Virtual clothing trade marks jump by a third to 2,146 in past year, as more and more brands look to capitalise on meta fashion.
According to a new study by intellectual property law firm Mathys & Squire, trade marks were up 35 per cent to 2,146 this year, as fashion powerhouse like Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren.
Digital clothing or ‘metafashion’ is a fast-growing market, which investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts could be worth $50bn by 2030.
Mathys & Squire said brands are taking action to protect their digital brands just as they would physical goods, given the enormous growth potential and huge sums of revenue at stake.
“Registering trade marks for virtual assets will give luxury brands legal ammunition to protect their intellectual property (IP), which accounts for a considerable proportion of their value”, Partner at Mathys & Squire Gary Johnston explained.
“Luxury brands will be particularly keen to control their brand identity and taking action against unauthorised use of their IP by copycats looking to profit from the equity its owners have built up is likely to increase.”
“Ensuring that their brand value does not become diluted in the metaverse will be a major concern. High-end brands are extremely protective about where their clothing is stocked in the real world, so they will be equally determined to exert control about how they appear in the metaverse.”
In the metaverse, consumers may interact with items of clothing, trying them on virtually before buying them, either in real life or digitally. These virtual versions of fashion items are often in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The firm said these NFTs can be created cheaply, with relative ease, making it easier for clothing brands’ designs to be exploited by copycats. This has led to a number of high-profile cases between brands over alleged IP infringement.
The French design house, Hermès, is currently involved in a dispute with an American artist over a collection of 100 virtual designs inspired by its Birkin bags. The artist had previously sold a one-off NFT ‘Baby Birkin’ for $23,500 compared to $9,500 the French brand charges for a physical Baby Birkin bag.
Brands that have registered trade marks for ‘virtual clothing’ include Nike, which has filed applications to protect its ‘Just Do It’ slogan and swoosh logo in the metaverse. Fashion brands YSL, Gucci, Prada and Off White have also registered trade marks.