Probably you already heard about cryptocurrencies, NFTs, blockchain technologies, coins, etc. Exciting developments, but what influence do these developments have for brand owners (and intellectual property in general)? In this blog, we focus on NFTs.
What is it?
An NFT stands for a non-fungible token. It is a unique digital copy that represents a file (or part of a file). What you will receive is the unique code that is stored in a blockchain (digital cash book). The NFT can therefore always be retrieved and makes a file unique.
You could compare an issue of different NFTs of a work of art with, for example, a silkscreen of art with 100 copies. The only difference is that an NFT is digital and stored as code. It is good to realize that you do not buy rights with an NFT. The copyright of a work of art remains with the maker, this is no different with the silkscreen, of course.
What applications are there?
Recently in the news: Beeple digital art (auctioned at Christie's), the first Tweet, short sports clips (NBA) and the new Kings of Leon album. Many applications are possible. From a digital artwork to digital merchandising: in addition to the physical Rolling Stones t-shirts, you may soon be able to buy exclusive digital t-shirts for your avatar. Or an NFT of a ringtone. The value of the NFT is determined by the scarcity and, of course, the demand.
NFT and Intellectual Property Law
The question is of course: what gives you the right to issue an NFT. As the creator of a work of art, the underlying right is clear: you are the creator and owner of the copyright. But an NFT of the most important data in world history (it exists!), or an NFT of a Van Gogh, that is a lot more questionable: you can issue an NFT of this, but is it not worthless? After all, anyone can issue this NFT.
NFT and trademarks
A trademark distinguishes products and services from other trademarks. It indicates the origin of a particular product, including a particular NFT. As we saw above, the origin is very important to know whether an NFT is from the original source. And whether the NFT has value. All the more reason for artists, bands, etc. to register their name as a trademark in order to take action against abuse and to have the opportunity to issue NFTs themselves.
Much new under the sun? No, even before the existence of NFTs, securing your brands and, broader, intellectual property was highly recommended of course. The NFTs underline this once more.
Most everything is capable to be an NFT. It is therefore really a new sales method for digital products. For artists it is a new way to market digital art (or a digital derivative of an artwork), for bands it is a way to bypass the publishers and reach an audience more easily. For well-known brands the possibility to sell digital merchandising. A very interesting development. We might issue an NFT for our blogs 😊.