The Practice Amendment Notice PAN released by the UK government has detailed IPO’s approach towards the classification of NFTs. The release also details the IPO’s approach towards virtual goods and virtual services, especially in the metaverse. Per the guidelines contained in the document, the guidelines serve to clarify customers applying for UK trademarks.
According to the Intellectual Property Office- IPO, the guidelines are to answer requests for guidance on the acceptable ways in which the involved terms can be framed as well as the appropriate class in which they fall.
The IPO explained that an NFT is a token of data on a blockchain and inextricably linked to the asset to which it relates. It represents ownership but not necessarily the ownership of any underlying IP such as copyright. Hence, NFTs will not be accepted as a classification term alone; the IPO said that without an indication of the asset to which the NFT relates, the term is inherently vague.
The acceptable term by the IPO as NFTs include digital arts, downloadable graphics, digital files, audio files, and downloadable software, authenticated by non-fungible tokens. The guidelines follow the 12th Edition of the Nice Classification in class 9.
Moreover, physical goods defined as being authenticated by NFTs will also be accepted in the appropriate goods class, including artwork, handbags, and training shoes authenticated by non-fungible tokens. The definition falls under classes 16, 18, and 25 respectively.
Additionally, the IPO stated that it may be possible to link membership of a club or entry to an event to an NFT; however, the service would fall within Class 41 as an entertainment service
Virtual goods are classified in class 9 of the Nice Classification system. This is because the goods to which they relate consist, essentially, of data, such as digital images. The acceptable terms are downloadable virtual clothing, footwear, or headgear and downloadable virtual handbags.
“If a service is capable of being delivered via virtual means, IPO will continue to accept such services, with examples of acceptable terminology being: education and training services delivered by virtual means and conducting interactive virtual auctions,” the IPO stated. This also applies to virtual services in the metaverse.
Ultimately, the IPO stated that if the examiner considers that the specification applied for is vague, a statement of objection will be raised under the Trade Mark Rules of 2008.
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