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Volume XII, Number 176

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Are You Well “Versed” in the Legal Issues with Metaverses?

As frequently as you heard “NFTs” in 2021, you will hear “metaverse” in 2022. The common denominator with these topics is that both heavily leverage blockchain technology. The other common denominator is that both NFTs and metaverses involve a long list of complex legal issues. We have addressed some of the legal issues with NFTs here and here. The link below provides an overview of some of the legal issues with metaverses. We view metaverses as a confluence of technologies and business models which may include some or all of those set forth below.  Many companies are jumping into NFTs and the metaverse but don’t have a full understanding of all of the potential legal issues. As each metaverse is unique, it is important to obtain an assessment of the potential legal issues with your metaverse implementation or participation and the various technical and business elements you plan to use.

Two of the key elements of metaverses are virtual worlds and blockchain/NFT technology. Virtual worlds are shared, immersive social spaces where users, represented by an avatar, interact with the world and other users, where often land is sold to users for users to build spaces and experiences, often involving an in-world economy. Some of the legal issues implicated by virtual worlds include governance issues for the platform and individual spaces therein, IP protection, infringement and enforcement issues due to the large quantity of user-generated content and entertainment experiences that make up the virtual world, regulatory issues with virtual currencies and NFTs used in-world, including issues with money laundering with in-world marketplaces, securities laws and gambling, and a host of issues with virtual advertising.

Copyright © 2022, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 59
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About this Author

James Mattinson Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency Lawyer Sheppard Mullin Washington DC
Partner

Jim Gatto is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He is also Co-Team Leader of the firm's Digital Media Industry and Social Media and Games Industry Teams, Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency team, and Team Leader of the firm's Open Source Team. 

Areas of Practice

Mr. Gatto leverages his unique combination of nearly 30 years of IP experience, business insights and attention to technology trends to help companies develop IP and other legal...

202.747.1945
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