Earlier this month, New Balance filed for three trade marks in the US the specifications for which include “downloadable virtual goods”, “virtual merchandise”, and “[online] non-downloadable virtual footwear, apparel, sports bags, sports equipment, and accessories for use in virtual environments”.

New Balance’s filings could indicate its intention to finally enter the Metaverse. Protecting its trade marks in this emerging virtual space will be key to monetising its intellectual property and leveraging new commercial opportunities.

Until recently, companies launching projects in the Metaverse were predominantly high-end fashion houses and luxury brands: from established houses such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to luxury streetwear labels such as Off-White and Balenciaga.

However, in the past months, there has been a raft of other brands entering this space. In December 2021, Adidas launched a series of non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) in collaboration with the revered Bored Ape Yacht Club. The same month, Nike acquired RTFKT, the NFT collectables and fashion startup.

While its direction of travel is unclear, brands like New Balance are alive to the Metaverse’s opportunities for growth and connection with untapped customer bases, and monetisation of intellectual property in exciting new ways. Brand protection in the virtual world is key for companies eyeing up their first foray into the Metaverse.