Intellectual property rights will continue to be a growing area of tension within Web3 and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as intellectual property rights are often dependent on a single “identified entity”, while Web3 is often decentralized.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, David Kappos, partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, said that traditionally an IP is owned by a specific entity, which makes it necessarily centralized from a legal point of view.
Kappos suggested that the tension between intellectual property and decentralization has no clear resolution, asking “how does a DAO really own the intellectual property of the protocol it is supposed to govern?”
Over the past year, there have been several lawsuits against NFT projects allegedly infringing intellectual property, copyrights, and trademarks.
When asked about third parties creating digital artwork or wearables from branded products, Kappos suggested that “an unauthorized performer in a Web3 environment should refrain from creating a wearable that confusingly resembles a third-party branded product – as is The case is in actual fact. The world.”
One example is French luxury group Hermès suing digital artist Mason Rothschild for creating Metabirkins, an NFT collection inspired by the group’s popular Birkin bags.
In August, NFT subsidiary Yuga Labs released a new IP rights agreement for CryptoPunks Group and Meebit, allowing all CryptoPunk and Meetbits holders to use the NFT for commercial or personal purposes.
Related topics: Explaining NFTs and Intellectual Property
Nathanael Lim, co-founder of Web3 media startup Avium, said this was a positive step for users, but the real change is that the market will take more notice of intellectual property.
In August, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16z) announced a set of six licenses designed specifically for NFTs under a Creative Commons license. These are essentially improvements over the Creative Commons licenses that were released twenty years ago, Lim suggests, and have helped clear up some of the confusion people had about licenses by updating the most relevant parts, but more innovation needs to happen within the space.
Both Lim and Kaboos were speakers at IP Week @ SG 2022, a global conference organized by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).