China Begins Trademark Registration for NFTs and Metaverse Goods
China's Trademark Office has greenlit trademarks for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual goods in the metaverse. While previously hesitant, this move allows flexibility in descriptions for these trademarks.
China's National Intellectual Property Administration's Trademark Office has recently granted approval for trademarks related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual goods for use in the metaverse. These trademarks cover a range of digital assets, including downloadable digital files authenticated by NFTs, virtual goods for retail, and more. This marks a significant departure from China's previous stance on approving trademarks for such emerging technologies.
Unlike several other countries, China had been hesitant to accept trademarks related to NFTs and virtual goods. The Chinese Trademark Office typically only accepted trademarks for standard goods and services that were pre-approved. However, this recent change in approach is seen as a positive development for United States-based companies, as it doesn't require prior use or the registration of the same mark in the U.S.
Examining the registered marks, it's evident that the Chinese Trademark Office has allowed flexibility in customizing descriptions for virtual goods and services. For instance, the nail polish brand "SALLY HANSEN" was registered with an unusually long description, allowing for downloadable computer software for creating digital designs and characters, avatars, and more.
Despite this flexibility, it's uncertain whether the Chinese Trademark Office will continue to accept non-standard descriptions for virtual goods and services. This may be a temporary exception before adopting standardized descriptions in the future. U.S. applicants are advised to consult the list of standard goods and services when filing for trademarks in China to avoid complications.
China's move to promote domestically built digital tokens, NFT platforms, and metaverses further adds complexity. It's unclear whether registrants will need to demonstrate use within China's specific NFT and virtual platforms or if international use will suffice under Chinese trademark law.
As China continues to explore its own digital landscape, it remains to be seen how trademark holders will navigate the evolving requirements and regulations, both domestically and internationally. The growing significance of NFTs and the metaverse in China's digital economy makes this a crucial area to watch for businesses operating in this space.