An Introduction to the Metaverse

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Wednesday, June 1, 2022
12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Central Daylight Time
09:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Join us for a panel discussion on the metaverse—what it is, why you should be paying attention to it, and what legal issues you should be on the lookout for. This is an introductory presentation in a series on the metaverse that will delve into the legal issues that companies may face in the 3D virtual world.

Key Takeaways

Metaverse 101

  • “Metaverse” is used to describe any virtual world where users can interact using digital avatars. There are seven layers to any metaverse: infrastructure, human interface, decentralization, spatial computing, creator economy, discovery, and experience, such as games, social, esports, theater, and shopping. By 2024, the metaverse is projected to be valued at approximately $800 million.
  • Cryptocurrency is key to the metaverse. It can be used to pay for virtually anything, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), real estate, and virtual clothing, among many other uses. Creators of decentralized, open-source metaverses have minted their own digital currencies.

Legal Issues in the Metaverse

What Should a Business Consider Before Entering the Metaverse?

  • Choose a metaverse in which to house one’s business. Will it be in a decentralized metaverse, such as Sandbox or Decentraland, with many companies collaborating and housing their businesses? This type of metaverse is attractive as the decentralized aspect provides users with more ownership, control over their spaces, and the ability to create content on the “land” that is owned. Or will you choose a centralized metaverse, where there may be more users present but the company has less ownership and control over its virtual space?
  • Consider the terms of use and governance for each metaverse in order to determine which suits your business.
  • Determine if metaverse land needs to be acquired, developed, and managed. While the parcel of land is under one’s ownership, rules within the metaverse where it lies will need to be followed.
  • Business opportunities in the metaverse include higher education, virtual events, retail, enterprises and collaborations, and social media.
  • There are no current laws regulating the metaverse. Each virtual world has its own set of rules.

IP Considerations

  • Companies should review existing trademark and copyright licenses to make sure they extend to digital goods and services in a virtual space.
  • Brands should consider whether to expressly reserve rights for use of existing trademarks and copyrights in a virtual space in future agreements.
  • There has been an uptick in patent filings on various metaverse-related technologies, creating virtual objects or user interface and navigation.
  • As expected, data privacy is a major concern. With large amounts of big data and information shared on a daily basis, there are questions surrounding what levels of protections should be put in place and whether the metaverse applies to public or private space.

Looking ahead, more users are expected to interface with the virtual world and mixed reality. In the near future, individuals may interface in the metaverse as often as they currently use the internet. Corporate and industrial metaverses are expected to gain traction and growth.