NFTs, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and the Next Frontier of Trademarks

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With the recent collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, cryptocurrencies have received a lot of negative news coverage lately. Renowned international publications, such as the New York Times and The Economist published articles heralding the “End of Crypto.” Likewise, layoffs at Meta and other tech companies have cast a similar pall over similar forward-facing industries. Nonetheless, nationally recognized brands seem to remain bullish on expanding into next-generation frontiers, such as Web3, non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”), virtual goods, and even cryptocurrencies.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) public records reveal many of the country’s most prominent companies filing multiple trademark applications relating to NFTs, the Metaverse, and cryptocurrencies. These brands apparently still see promise in decentralized finance, the blockchain, and commerce in the Metaverse. Taking their cue from giants in other industries, ambitious cannabis, beverage, and other highly-regulated industry companies may want to shore up their brand protection assets in these important spaces before it’s too late.

Why Register Your Trademark In the First Place?

One of the most important ways for a cannabis, beverage, or another highly-regulated industry company to protect a brand is to register trademark rights with the USPTO. A trademark registration establishes rights throughout the entire United States and its territories, allowing a California company to enforce its trademark against parties in other states. The USPTO also publishes registered in its publicly accessible database, providing the public with notice of ownership. It additionally allows a trademark owner to include the ® symbol next to its mark. These all represent crucial ways for cannabis, beverage, and other highly-regulated industry companies to secure valuable trademark rights as their businesses expand. 

Ensure Your Trademark Registration Covers Growth into Web3, NFTs, the Metaverse and Cryptocurrencies

Ambitious companies should take steps to secure their rights to virtual versions of their goods and services before someone else tries to claim the digital space first, as recently befell legendary fashion brand Hermés and its iconic Birkin bag. Hermés was forced to file a trademark infringement lawsuit against the artist Mason Rothchild, over the latter’s sale of “MetaBirkins” NFTs. While this matter remains undecided in court, cannabis, beverage and other highly-regulated industry companies can proactively reduce their risk of a similar dispute by ensuring their trademark registrations cover NFTs, and other facets of commerce. 

Popular Trademark Classes for Cryptocurrencies, NFTS, Digital Merchandise, or Metaverse Experiences

USPTO trademark applications must include a list of the goods and services the trademark owner uses or has a bonafide intent to use with its trademark. Trademark owners can identify cryptocurrencies, NFTS, digital merchandise, or Metaverse experiences among the list of goods or services within a trademark application. Companies can even bundle their trademark applications for new physical products with their digital versions. Popular trademark classes for these types of goods and services include:

  • Class 009, which covers “downloadable software containing virtual objects, digital collectibles and NFTs“, 
  • Class 035, which covers “retail services for virtual objects, digital collectibles and NFTs“,
  • Class 036, which covers “services managing assets in digital currencies (cryptocurrencies)“, and
  • Class 041, which covers “entertainment services using virtual objects, digital objects and NFTs.”

Many other trademark classes could apply as well, and a business should ensure its registration accurately identifies the ways it uses or intends to use its brand. 

Conclusion: Forward-looking Brand Protection Strategies Will Help Your Business Save Long-term and Grow

These and other forward-looking brand enforcement strategies can save trademark owners significant amounts of money in the long-term. Securing early trademark rights in emerging areas can help brand owners avoid costly litigation down the line. The experienced IP attorneys at Rogoway Law have extensive experience counseling clients on Web3, NFTs, the Metaverse and Cryptocurrency matters, and we are here to help with these exciting new opportunities.

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