What role does IP play in the digital/technological revolution?

IP laws identify legal and economic rights, encourage creativity and innovation. The role of IP in the digital revolution cannot be understated. Consider web 3.0, the metaverse, cryptocurrency, NFTs, software programming etc. all of which are very much IP based.

How has digital technology helped artistes in thedistribution of music?

A big way is the possibilities presented by streaming. Ownership is more certain and it is a revenue source. Streaming has also helped combat piracy.

What does web 3.0 mean?

The internet has worked in distinct phases. In the 90's, web1.0 was primarily 'read-only' information through sites like Google. Web 2.0 shifted focus to interaction and allowed more control over what content is produced. Web 3.0 refers to anything built upon distributed ledger technology such as blockchain. It is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web which incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies, and token-based economics.

And the metaverse?

Contrary to the belief of some, there is no one singular metaverse. The metaverse refers to any network of 3d virtual worlds which are focused on social interactions and has actually existed for a while now without the branding. Open world sandbox games such as Minecraft, Second Life and even Fortnite can be classed as metaverses, as they all allow you to interact with friends virtually through an 'avatar' that you can buy accessories and clothing for1.

Creatives and entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of this 'new' frontier will be able to produce branded content and accessories for sale (like Nike is currently doing), advertise through traditional and enhanced means alike in spaces within these worlds, and even curate experiences which further immerse people into their own slice of the metaverse at significantly reduced costs. Digital Artists, are able to showcase their works in massive virtual galleries which consumers all over the world can access from the comforts of their own home, all without having to pay for a square foot of real estate.

What is the relationship between self-driving vehicles and IP?

The computer code deployed in the development of technologies such as the new collision-avoidance camera systems, high-precision GPS and navigation technology, improved operating and security software, and more advanced sensors, are authored/or owned by organizations or even individuals in society. IP laws are invoked to protect the makers of these innovations, as well as determine who benefits from such product.

How do IP Laws determine the rights and liabilities of Artificial Intelligence?

There are various views as to who owns the intellectual property right to AI generated content. One argument is that data generated by Artificial Intelligence should belong to the public domain. It is argued that since Artificial Intelligence is non-human, copyright cannot be ascribed to any content generated by it. A driving force behind this is the ideology that making data freely available will contribute to the development of Artificial Intelligence.

The potential commercial value of AI-generated content is a factor that can promote investment and subsequent development in AI technology. To this extent, deciding who to attribute ownership of intellectual property of AI-generated content can go a long way to facilitating the commercial viability of such content.

Jurisdictions such as the United States of America and Germany on the other hand have made it expressly clear that for a thing to be subject of copyright, it has to be created by a human being. The US Copyright Office has announced that it "will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.

How does IP support Esports?

Esports is very much rooted in IP. Copyright, trademarks, designs, patents, trade secrets, etc. IP protects the software, designs, signs logos and names, characters, art, music/sound etc. Game publishers and developers typically own or control the IP rights underlying esports game titles, allowing them to exert significant control over how such titles are used and commercially exploited in the esports arena. Video games themselves are also subject to copyright protection, as well as individual elements of a game such as the underlying source code, game characters, maps, music, and other literary, audio, or audio-visual elements. By owning or controlling exclusive rights for a particular game title, a game publisher could create, structure and maintain their own league for the game according to their own rules and franchising preferences. It is important to note that IP in the esports industry is not only associated with ownership of the games themselves, but also the advertising and licensing agreements that allow stakeholders to monetize their brands.

Why do you think companies should pay attention to digital transformation?

Someone once said that digital transformation means changing your whole business model to be fit for the future. We absolutely agree with this comment. Failure to pay attention too and or embrace digital transformation could spell the end of the business in its current state.


What are NFTs?

NFTs stand for 'Non-Fungible Token'. This is a type of cryptographic record on a blockchain that is or relates to a unique asset or form. Put simply, an NFT is a form of digital asset that cannot be subdivided, replaced or duplicated unlike other cryptographic assets. . The most common NFTs at the moment are digital art, sport NFTs and collectibles. You also have music NFTs.

Are there IP rights in NFTs?

Yes. NFTs may involve a range of intellectual property rights, including copyright, trademark rights, moral rights and "NIL rights" (i.e. name, image and likeness rights").

What happens if an NFT is created from an IP but without authorization?

This constitutes an infringement. The owner of such IP right(s) can initiate a takedown process on the marketplace where such NFT is minted or placed and or proceed in action against the infringer. Rigorous monitoring of marketplaces your brand is operating in is essential for anyone looking to flag infringements and limit unauthorised use. This work normally falls under the purview of our brand protection lawyers, so it is crucial that a robust team that can dedicate itself to rooting out these instances is created. If you come across any unauthorized NFT,

Smart contracts, what are these?

A smart contract is a collection of codes with contract terms that can be executed automatically once preset conditions are fulfilled. They are used to automate the execution of an agreement without the need to involve an intermediary. Advantages of smart contracts include:

  • It can be programmed to execute almost instantaneously, which makes it ideal for transactions where time sensitivity matters.
  • It ensures safety as the data in the decentralised registry cannot be lost and cyber attacked.
  • It automatically generates a record of all transactions that is highly resistant to forgery.
  • It provides security and reduces surplus transaction costs.

NFTs are minted through smart contracts that assign ownership and reassign it when transferred or resold. At a basic level, smart contracts act as a tool to implement a sale agreement for NFTs.

Are lawyers still needed for smart contracts?

Yes. Smart contracts have been around since the 1990s and still have not obviated the need for lawyers. Despite the fact that smart contracts self execute based on already laid down and understood instructions, lawyers are still very much needed. Lawyers could from a legal point of view, advise on the instructions and conditions needful to validate a transaction. Additionally, in cases of disputes occasioned by human error -by persons on both ends of the transaction, lawyers can also advise on how such disputes can be resolved.


1 For further reading see https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2022/02/exploring-the-metaverse/

2 For further reading, please see https://www.dlapiper.com/~/media/files/insights/publications/2021/09/a10442_nft_qa_slipsheet_v2.pdf?la=en&hash=AAB512A8D7CF70ACE19503BB138BFA118D5F86CA

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