March 31, 2023
Intellectual property (IP) will be critical to incentivizing innovation and investments in the borderless virtual world known as the Metaverse, WIPO Director General Daren Tang said in opening the 7th WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and the Metaverse.
The event, which drew interest from over 3,000 people in 140 countries, began in the Metaverse, where Mr. Tang's and Assistant Director General Kenichiro Natsume's avatars set the tone for the March 29-30, 2023, discussion on the role of IP in shaping the virtual world for innovators and creators everywhere.
In his welcome address, Mr. Tang said: “IP will be a key tool in incentivizing innovation and investment in the Metaverse. For these virtual worlds to emerge, many technologies and innovations have to come together, ranging from hardware, goggles, and haptic sensors, to payment systems and platforms. Many of these will depend on co-development from a diverse set of players, at the heart of which will be IP agreements, licensing, and negotiations.”
Mr. Tang also touched on some consequences the Metaverse could pose to IP owners, saying: “IP will be the mechanism through which performers, designers, app developers, and others will make a living from the virtual world. We need to think carefully about how IP can protect these groups from counterfeits, non-fungible token (NFT) re-minting, deep fakes and more.”
Mr. Natsume reiterated WIPO’s commitment to promoting understanding of the Metaverse. “The WIPO Conversation will continue to be a forum to shape the future of the digital economy, creating better understanding and awareness of the issues raised. Intellectual property is going to be key and the Metaverse will touch upon every aspect of the IP system,” Mr. Natsume said.
Amandeep Gill, UN Under-Secretary-General and Envoy on Technology, delivered a keynote address.
The jury's out in terms of how much the Metaverse can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore it falls on private companies, governments, regulators and others to think about this wisely, and come up with solutions that go beyond the basic tenets of consumer safety to really address the growing demand, and invest more in governance and transdisciplinary insights,Mr. Gill said.
The first day of the event featured wide-ranging discussions on decoding the Metaverse—separating hype from reality, probing regulatory frameworks, and delving into blueprints, plans, and IP stories from the architects building the Metaverse.
The second day’s topics included decentralized autonomous organization, NFTs, smart contracts, gaming and video content, as well as IP enforcement. An open discussion followed that included participants from WIPO Member States, businesses and the private sector.
Overall, the event showcased the growing importance of IP in shaping the future of the Metaverse, underscoring the need for careful consideration of how to protect innovators and creators in the new virtual world.
The WIPO Conversation is a forum to engage with and facilitate discussion about the impact of frontier technologies on IP, including artificial intelligence. WIPO began this series of conversations as a way of convening a diverse group of stakeholders to exchange information, build knowledge and support well-informed policy choices in an area that is rapidly reshaping our economies and societies. If you would like to receive the most up to date information, please get in touch to subscribe to the frontier technologies mailing list.