In view of the huge increase in popularity and use of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) over the past few years, as well as the increasing value attached to such NFTs which ranges from a few cents and a few millions, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) announced that it is being inundated with applications containing terms relating to virtual goods (such as virtual clothing, bags, accessories) and NFTs, especially in the metaverse.

As a result, the EUIPO recently published its approach for classifying these virtual goods and tokens.

According to the EUIPO, all downloadable material is proper to Class 9. "Virtual goods" are understood by the Office to be non-physical items that are purchased and used in online communities or online games, which usually constitutes metaverse. Thus, all virtual goods are proper to Class 9 because they are treated as digital content or images.

The EUIPO states that attention must be paid to the correct description during the classification procedure. For example, the terms ‘downloadable goods' and ‘virtual goods' lack clarity and precision and the content related to the virtual goods must be specified. An acceptable example would be ‘downloadable virtual goods', namely, ‘digital art'.

The 12th Edition of the Nice Classification includes the term "downloadable digital files authenticated by NFTs". Within this context, NFTs are defined as unique digital certificates that are registered in a blockchain and are used as a means of recording ownership of an item such as a digital artwork or a collectible. The term is not understood to mean the digital item itself, but instead is the means of certification and cannot be accepted for classification purposes. An acceptable example would be ‘downloadable digital art, authenticated by an NFT'.

The Office also noted that services relating to virtual goods and NFTs will be classified in line with the established principles of classification for services. An acceptable example of this would be ‘provision of an online marketplace for downloadable digital art images authenticated by NFTs' in Class 35 (Advertisement, business management, organisation and administration, office functions).

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