May 16, 2022


Forget Mediocre Fashion

Nike is Eyeing the Metaverse with New Hires and Virtual-Focused Trademarks

If a handful of recently-submitted trademark apps for registration and a string of hires is any indication, Nike is making ready to head back into the metaverse. On the heels of partnering with gaming platform Roblox again in the 2019 and also obtaining a utility patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Business office (“USPTO”) for a “system and approach for supplying cryptographically secured electronic assets” that similar year, the Beaverton, Oregon-based mostly sportswear titan submitted 7 new intent-to-use programs late past month for its most renowned logos – phrase marks “Nike,” “Just Do It,” “Jordan,” and “Air Jordan,” its iconic swoosh logo, the Jordan silhouette emblem, and a stylized mix of its title and the swoosh – for use on a variety of digital goods/services. 

In the newly-submitted trademark programs for registration (serial nos. 97095855, 97095944, 97096945, 97096236, 97096950, 97096952, and 97096366), as 1st spotted by trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, counsel for Nike specially points to a variety of products/products and services in relationship with which the company intends to use its famed marks, which include “downloadable virtual goods” (in Class 9), “retail store solutions featuring digital goods” (Class 35), and “entertainment providers, namely, providing on-line, non-downloadable virtual footwear, garments, headwear, eyewear, baggage, sports baggage, backpacks, sports machines, art, toys and equipment for use in virtual environments” (Class 41).

In the meantime, exterior of the U.S., Nike has submitted similar apps with trademark places of work in Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico, and Canada.

Pretty much 60-several years-old, Nike – which at the moment offers a current market cap of $263.27 billion – maintains trademark rights in and a range of registrations for every single of the aforementioned marks across an array of items and companies, with just one of its registrations for the Nike identify and one more for its swoosh emblem for use on “athletic footwear and uniforms,” for instance, courting back to 1974 and 1972, respectively. Nevertheless, whilst Nike has a robust arsenal of trademark registrations for its numerous, a lot of marks, it lacks registrations for virtual renderings of the aforementioned goods/solutions.

Nike’s lack of registrations does not indicate that it is without the need of trademark rights in the metaverse. After all, the corporation teamed up with Roblox back in March and April 2019 for an Air Max party in link with which it made “exclusive bundles,” such as digital variations of its Air Max 270, Air Max 720, and Air VaporMax sneakers. That partnership was shorter-lived (it only ran from March 21 to April 11), and Nike and Roblox – which now boasts more than 200 million month-to-month energetic customers – have given that absent their different means. As this sort of, its trademark rights for use on digital garments and sneakers possible are not incredibly potent because of to inconsistent use as a result, the intent-to-use filing basis.

Further than that, even though, Nike may well now have rights in they area thanks to its partnerships with video match businesses, this sort of as Xbox, whose avatar market at the moment lists at the very least a person Nike-branded providing, which is presumably the consequence of a collab with the Swoosh.

The Positive aspects of the Metaverse

It is not still clear what exactly Nike’s ambitions look like in the metaverse despite the fact that it is value noting that the business is presently hunting to fill a range of “Virtual Product Designer” roles right after bringing previous Director of Innovation Engineering Andrew Schwartz into the recently-made Director of Metaverse Engineering task in September 2021. One particular of the digital-focused positions that Nike is currently employing for states that the prospect will have responsibilities that include things like “exploring, iterating, and visualizing new materials concepts,” and notes that the particular person “will reach this through generating procedural materials that can be parameterized and shared with design and style, [and will] play a key function in redefining our electronic landscape, ushering us into the metaverse, and increasing our team’s abilities.”

What is clear are the alternatives that exist for brand names when it arrives to digital worlds. Supplied the rise of the metaverse (i.e., a virtual-fact area in which consumers can interact with a personal computer-generated surroundings and with other people – or as Nike’s World wide Director of Know-how Innovation Eric Redmond has described it, the metaverse is “the all-encompassing house in which all electronic encounter sits”), makes are rushing to have interaction with consumers in this medium by way of collaborations with the likes of Fortnite and Roblox, as perfectly as as a result of their own branded ventures. 

More than just a place to perform video games or engage with (and obtain) digital fashion, the metaverse is “a living experience that exists continuously for everybody and in authentic time,” Matthew Ball, the Running Associate of EpyllionCo and a undertaking lover at Makers Fund, formerly stated, and in its existing form, the “worlds and experiences” that the metaverse delivers “have helped makes continue to be related to consumers all over the pandemic.”

Versus the qualifications, “Every model and business will have to have a metaverse method,” in accordance to Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer and CEO of metaverse-centered consulting company Futures Intelligence Group, who suggests that brands’ existence in the metaverse will eventually turn out to be as commonplace as companies’ obtaining internet websites and/or getting existing on social media. Nike appears to be readying to be part of the likes of Warner Bros., Hyundai, Gucci, Burberry, and skincare firm SK-II, amid other people, which have developed their own digital worlds, oftentimes very own collaboration with present platforms.

Whilst significantly of the emphasis on these burgeoning digital ventures has centered on connecting with buyers throughout the pandemic, Reed Smith LLP’s Stacy Marcus and Deborah Bessner contend that these virtual worlds and ordeals have enduring – and in several circumstances, simple – gains. Just after all, matters like virtual stores “are conveniently changeable and can adapt much more speedily to shopper choices and developments than a brick-and-mortar keep can,” and it goes with no declaring that “the arrive at of a virtual world and experience goes well over and above that of a actual physical a single,” creating this sort of initiatives appealing even after the globe carries on to reopen and COVID-related restrictions are eased.

Virtual Brand name Setting up

Manufacturers are, unsurprisingly, thinking of the part – and protectability – of their branding when it arrives to the metaverse. Not actually the first model to file trademark purposes that correspond with the digital realm, TFL documented in September that E.l.f. Cosmetics, for occasion, submitted an intent-to-use application for registration for the “Crypto Cosmetics” mark in Course 9, and particularly, for use in relationship with “Digital media, specifically, digital collectibles, electronic tokens, non-fungible tokens, and electronic artwork … to signify a collectible product and showcasing collectible illustrations or photos, audio, video clips, and electronic art.” 

Courting back just before that, electronic trend brand RTFKT has been lodging programs with the USPTO for its name (which is pronounced “artifact”), and word marks like Meta Haze, Krypto Kush, Metamall, Metawear, Cybersneaker, and Metajacket, among other people, as effectively as its emblem, which consists of “a stylized design of a blade,” for use in relationship with “downloadable virtual goods” and “virtual goods, particularly, non-fungible electronic asset tokens used with blockchain technological know-how to stand for a collectible item,” and in some circumstances, physical footwear products. 

All the while, the amount of apps in which “digital assets” are mentioned as items/expert services has also been on the increase, albeit, a little bit more progressively. The Planet Mental Residence Organization’s database listed almost 750 applications for marks for use in link with “digital assets” as of September. That is up from 460-anything in 2020, roughly 500 in 2019, 710 in 2018, 193 in 2017, 48 in 48, 68 in 2015, and 54 in 2014.

And presented the enduring attractiveness of digital trend, as properly as NFTs, prospects are, Nike will hardly be the past enterprise to seem to logos for its digital endeavors. Models will keep on to glimpse to the USPTO and other appropriate trademark places of work in purchase to amass registrations in this space, assuming, of system, that they are basically employing these types of marks in “real” and digital commerce.

Updated (November 18, 2021): On the heels of creating headlines for submitting a range of trademark apps for registration for digital products, Nike has teamed up with Roblox for Nikeland, a digital working experience that permits enthusiasts of the sportswear large to “connect, make, share encounters, compete,” and, of study course, shop. In a release, Nike states, “There’s a new area on Roblox for Nike lovers to join, generate, share activities and contend: NIKELAND. Nike established this bespoke planet with the backdrop of its environment headquarters and within Roblox’s immersive 3D place, creating on its goal to convert sport and enjoy into a way of living.” In addition to connecting and competing, admirers can also store in Nikeland, with the digital encounter enabling users to “gear up in classics like the Air Power 1 and Nike Blazer and in new drops like the Air Drive 1 Fontanka and the Air Max 2021,” of which can be identified in the digital showroom, “along with a host of other Nike attire staples like ACG and Nike Tech Pack.”