Nike Turns To The Metaverse With A Handful Of New Virtual-Focused Brands

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If a handful of newly filed trademark applications are any indication, Nike is gearing up to return to the metaverse. On the heels of partnering with the Roblox gaming platform in 2019 and obtaining a utility patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for an “asset delivery system and method Cryptographically Secure Digital “In the same year, the Beaverton, the Oregon-based sportswear titan, filed four new Intent-to-Use applications at the end of last month for its most famous brands – the word marks” Nike “and” Just Do It “, its iconic swoosh logo and a stylized combination of its name and swoosh – for use on various virtual goods / services.

In the newly filed trademark applications (serial numbers 97095855, 97095944, 97096236 and 97096366), as first noticed by trademark attorney Josh Gerben, Nike attorney specifically points to a number products / services in relation with which the company intends to use its well-known brands, including ‘downloadable virtual goods’ (in class 9), ‘retail store services featuring virtual goods’ (class 35) and ‘entertainment services, namely, providing online non-downloadable virtual shoes, clothing, headgear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, works of art, toys and accessories for for use in virtual environments’ (Class 41).

The nearly 60-year-old Nike, which currently claims a market capitalization of $ 263.27 billion, owns trademark rights and a number of registrations for each of the aforementioned brands across a range of products and services, with one of his recordings for the name Nike. and another for its swoosh logo for use on “sports shoes and uniforms” dating from 1974 and 1972. However, while Nike has a strong arsenal of trademark registrations, it probably lacks enforceable rights to – and registrations for – the virtual aspect of the aforementioned goods / services due to its lack of consistent use of the marks of these classes in the virtual field. world.

It should be noted that Nike actually teamed up with Roblox in March and April 2019 for an Air Max event where it created “exclusive bundles” including virtual versions of its Air Max 270, Air Max 720, and Air VaporMax sneakers for the occasion. Since that partnership was short-lived (it only lasted from March 21 to April 11), and Nike and Roblox – which currently have over 200 million monthly active users – have since gone their separate ways instead of ‘a lasting deal, all the rights Nike has in virtual clothes and sneakers are probably not very strong due to such inconsistent use, on the one hand.

The advantages for the metaverse

It is not yet clear exactly what Nike’s ambitions look like in the metaverse, but what is clear is the opportunity that exists for brands when it comes to virtual worlds. Given the rise of the metaverse (i.e. a virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and with other users – or as Eric Redmond, Global Director, described it) of Nike’s technological innovation, the metaverse is “the all-encompassing a space in which the entire digital experience is to be found”), brands are rushing to engage with consumers in this medium through collaborations with Fortnite and Roblox, as well as through their own branded businesses.

More than just a place to play games or engage with (and buy) virtual fashion, the metaverse is “a vivid experience that exists cohesively for everyone and in real time,” Matthew Ball, Partner director of EpyllionCo and business partner at Makers. Fund, previously said, in its current form, the “worlds and experiences” the metaverse provides “have helped brands stay connected to consumers throughout the pandemic.”

In the background, “Every brand and business will need a metaverse strategy,” according to Cathy Hackl, managing director of the metaverse and CEO of the metaverse-focused consultancy Futures Intelligence Group, who says the brands presence in the metaverse will eventually become as commonplace as businesses with websites and / or being present on social media. Nike appears to be poised to join Warner Bros., Hyundai, Gucci, Burberry, and skincare company SK-II, among others, who have created their own virtual worlds, often in conjunction with existing platforms.

It’s also worth noting that while the focus on these burgeoning digital businesses has been on connecting with consumers during the pandemic, Stacy Marcus and Deborah Bessner of Reed Smith LLP argue that these virtual worlds and experiences have lasted. – and in many cases, benefits. After all, things like virtual stores “are easily modifiable and can adapt more quickly to consumer preferences and trends than a physical store”, and it goes without saying that “the reach of a world and of a virtual experience goes far beyond that of a physical, ”making such initiatives appealing even after the world has reopened and COVID-related restrictions relaxed.

Virtual brand creation

Unsurprisingly, brands are reflecting on the role – and protection – of their branding in relation to the metaverse. Not actually the first brand to file trademark applications that match the virtual domain, TFL reported in September that Elf Cosmetics, for example, has filed an Intent of Use application for the registration of the trademark “Crypto Cosmetics. “in class 9, and namely, for use in connection with” digital media, namely, digital collectibles, digital tokens, non-fungible tokens and digital art…

Prior to that, digital fashion brand RTFKT had filed applications with the USPTO for its name (which is pronounced “artefact”) and word marks such as Meta Haze, Krypto Kush, Metamall, Metawear, Cybersneaker and Metajacket, between others, as well as its logo, which consists of “a stylized design of a blade”, for use in connection with “downloadable virtual goods” and “virtual goods, namely non-fungible digital asset tokens used with the blockchain technology to represent a collector’s item ‘and, in some cases, physical shoes.

Meanwhile, the number of apps in which “digital assets” are listed as goods / services has also increased, albeit a little more gradually. The World Intellectual Property Organization database listed nearly 750 trademark applications for use in connection with “digital assets” as of September. This is an increase from 460 something in 2020, around 500 in 2019, 710 in 2018, 193 in 2017, 48 in 48, 68 in 2015 and 54 in 2014.

And given the enduring appeal of virtual fashion, as well as NFTs, there’s a good chance Nike isn’t the latest company to look to brands for their virtual efforts. Trademarks will continue to look to the USPTO and other relevant trademark offices to amass registrations in this space, assuming, of course, that they actually use those trademarks in “real” and virtual trade.


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