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November 21, 2021

Just Buy It: Nike Wants to Bring Sneakerheads into the Metaverse


Technology and innovation attorney Samir Patel spoke with Cointelegraph about Nike's interest in the Metaverse and what role the company could play in constructing a legal landscape around it. Patent filings dating to 2018 reveal Nike has been amassing tools such as avatars and virtual branding to conduct business in the Metaverse, an area of which few judges and lawyers have knowledge. Mr. Patel said this lack of knowledge means judges will initially look to areas like property rights when deciding Metaverse-related cases.

"Legal doctrine like real property rights, breach of wet contracts and copyright infringement of human-derived work will govern the relationships in the metaverse (MV)," he explained. "So, when Nike wants to participate in the MV, whether that be with virtual storefronts, gear for avatars or create new products exclusively for the MV, then its lawyers need to build a nexus between the MV legal violation or claim and meatspace."

However, with the lack of law in this area comes an opportunity for Nike to help build a legal structure around Metaverse disputes. For example, Mr. Patel said, a judge would probably view a purchase of virtual land as a sale of goods and not a transfer of real estate — current statutes do not recognize virtual real estate or virtual land registries. Nike could help change that through litigation, though the reality is that the only viable way forward is to amend existing laws to accommodate virtual reality.

"Nike has the resources to educate judges through trial because they can afford to pay their lawyers to drag out litigation, but other smaller petitioners would have a hard time convincing a judge that they own virtual property that exists on a virtual land registry, maintained by a decentralized blockchain," he commented. "...Nike would be prudent to hire attorneys that are well-versed, and I mean really well-versed, in real property, the Uniform Commercial Code, as well as experts in blockchain technology."

READ: Just Buy It: Nike Wants to Bring Sneakerheads into the Metaverse

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