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Legal Questions Remain as the Sports World Rushes to Trademark NFT Ventures

A sports marketing curiosity not that long ago, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are becoming mainstream as creators tap into sports fans’ hunger for novel collectibles related to their favorite athletes and teams. Athletes, teams, leagues and sports brands are embracing NFTs as a new way to connect with fans and promote their interests.

The potential to make serious money in the sports NFT marketplace is also a factor — the digital assets are expected to generate more than $2 billion in 2022, according to a report by Financial News Media. The NFT metaverse — an interactive, virtual reality environment — is still very new, and legal issues are rapidly arising. Intellectual property issues, and in particular trademark protection, are at the top of the list, and sports NFT minters are now running to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect their virtual collectible ventures.

In this Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article written by Loeb Advanced Media & Technology partners Douglas Masters and Seth Rose, the authors discuss how athletes, teams and brands utilize NFTs and trademark their new ventures to monetize their personal and business brands. Although trademark law falls behind the fast-paced world of technological innovation, ongoing cases like Nike, Inc. v StockX LLC will continue to lay the groundwork for current and future brand battles over IP rights in the metaverse.