As nonfungible tokens (NFTs) continue to garner interest, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Copyright Office are set to launch a study into their impact on intellectual property rights.
The examination of NFTs comes after a request from senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis in June for a deep dive into the potential ramifications the burgeoning asset class could have in regard to intellectual property rights.
The two departments have agreed to conduct the study in correspondence with Leahy and Tillis, conducting preliminary discussions to plot a plan of action which will include consultations with various stakeholders well-versed in the NFT landscape.
A broad range of topics will be considered that was initially raised by the Vermont and North Carolina senators. This includes potential intellectual property challenges with future applications of NFTs, the rights associated with transferring ownership of an NFT, licensing rights and infringements and the potential IP rights given to NFT creators.
The scope of its coverage and which industry stakeholders will be consulted. They did not immediately respond.
The NFT space has already caused plenty of strife for companies that have seen their products or intellectual property infringed upon in recent months. A number of high-profile brands have sought legal recourse against NFT marketplaces and platforms that may have infringed on associated IP rights.
Global sportswear brand Nike made headlines in February as it instituted court proceedings against online reseller StockX for infringing on its trademark through the sale of unlicensed sneaker NFTs. The company had sold Nike NFT sneakers which were set to include redeemable, real-world versions of the shoes.
American rapper Lil Yachty is fighting his own legal battle in California, after filing a trademark infringement lawsuit against two music companies. The 24-year-old claimed the firms used his likeness and name to raise more than $6.5 million in venture capital to bankroll the launch of a collection of NFTs.
Production company Miramax also went the legal route in November 2021 after critically-acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantino looked to launch NFTs derived from his blockbuster 1994 film Pulp Fiction. The studio claimed Tarantino infringed on copyrights as he set out to launch an NFT collection featuring seven uncut screenplay scenes, exclusive commentary and original handwritten scripts.