Legal issues in the metaverse – part 1: The consumer
By Leanne Mostert partner at Webber Wentzel
The metaverse has seized the attention of global brands and big technology companies. Some brand owners have applied to register trademarks over downloadable virtual goods, for example, Nike and Abercrombie & Fitch. Some corporates have filed patent applications, for example, Disney has obtained a patent in the US for a virtual world simulator. From an M&A and funding perspective, the metaverse has attracted much attention too. For instance, in January 2022, Microsoft announced its planned multibillion-dollar acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard. This strategic acquisition is part of the technology company's plans to expand its metaverse offerings.
Businesses that wish to expand into the metaverse will need to be mindful of some legal issues. We have compiled a series: "Legal issues in the metaverse", in which we will unpack some of the legal considerations surrounding the metaverse. In this edition, we are focusing on the metaverse user (consumer). We have outlined some use cases and terminology frequently used in the context of the metaverse, and given some insights into consumer protection and liability issues that are likely to be prevalent in the metaverse. Many of these legal issues are not new, as they are still being debated in relation to the internet and social media.