19th INTA-EUIPO Industry Day Focuses on IP and Virtual Goods

Published: January 11, 2023

Diana Lipecka

Diana Lipecka Maucher Jenkins Munich, Germany Trademark Office Practices Committee

Late last year, INTA and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) held their 19th Industry Day. The event focused on several intellectual property (IP) issues related to virtual goods (intangible assets that can be traded in a virtual economy). This topic is of great importance to brand owners given the growing market potential presented by virtual goods as well as the new challenges they pose.

This Industry Day took place as a hybrid event for the first time, so participants could choose to attend either online or in person. More than 150 participants joined the event, including representatives from national IP offices across the EU.

Director of the EUIPO Academy, Patricia Garcia-Escudero, opened the event and welcomed the participants.

Tom Barrett (EnCirca, USA) provided the audience with the fundamentals for understanding virtual goods and discussed IP principles for blockchain. As Chair of INTA’s Emerging Committee, Blockchain Subcommittee, Mr. Barrett also summarized INTA’s upcoming white papers on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and trademarks in the metaverse and suggested potential areas of collaboration between INTA and the EUIPO.

Oscar Olarte (Mr. Factory, Spain) presented an industry perspective on the topic. He emphasized that the virtual goods market is already enormous in the gaming and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) sectors. He also explained why businesses are interested in the metaverse and shared examples of how the entertainment, gaming, tourism, and fashion industries are already operating in the metaverse.

Eduardo Zamora (Giró Martínez, Spain) led a discussion on the challenges that virtual goods pose specifically for legal practitioners, including classification issues, infringement and enforcement matters, and the potential liability of platforms. He also delved into the matter of proving use of virtual goods and touched on relevant cases covering virtual goods, including Nike v. StockX and Hermés v. Rothschild.

Arnaud Folliard-Monguiral, a lawyer at the EUIPO, moderated the panel discussion. The speakers emphasized the importance of understanding the virtual goods sector and answered participants’ questions related to different scenarios on how such goods should be treated by law. The speakers also discussed if the metaverse, NFTs, and blockchain require a completely new regulation or if the existing laws can facilitate these new technologies.

This event is held annually, and it is based on the longstanding cooperation between the EUIPO and INTA. It serves as an excellent opportunity for exchange between industry representatives and other participants from the EUIPO, INTA, and national EU IP offices. The event was organized by part of INTA’s Trademark Office Practices Committee, EUIPO Subcommittee.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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