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How does the virtual world affect your intellectual property rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Trademark Law

Most people find understanding how to protect their intellectual property (IP) hard enough in the physical world. Yet, thanks to massive technological advances, you now must worry about protecting your IP in the virtual one too.

You might think that you have nothing to do with the virtual world, so you don’t need to concern yourself with protecting your IP in it. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work.

Let’s say your company makes beautiful leather bags

You have a team of skilled craftsmen hand-stitching each bag, and people are willing to pay top rates for these highly regarded items. 

You might think you’re safe. After all, what’s anyone going to do with a virtual handbag? They can’t exactly carry their things in it. Sadly, you’d be wrong. One of the most high-profile lawsuits involving the virtual world was brought by luxury bag maker Hermès.

An artist made and sold digital representations of their famous Birkin bags. Or, to be precise, he sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs), each of which linked to a digital piece of art of a dressed-up Birkin bag. He even called them “Metabirkins.”

Sound confusing? It is, and the legal battle is still ongoing. The artist claims he is only doing the same as Andy Warhol did when he sold pieces of art depicting Campbell’s soup cans. Hermès claims he is infringing, diluting and misappropriating their trademark, injuring their reputation and more.

As you can see, understanding how to protect your intellectual property from all possible angles of attack is not straightforward. Fortunately, there is legal help available.