Virtual sneakers? Nike files for trademarks on ‘downloadable virtual goods’

Nov 2, 2021

WHAT IF you could buy shoes… but not actually get to wear them?

Trademarks filed by Nike seem to suggest that the sportswear giant is moving into “downloadable virtual goods.” According to a Bloomberg report, Nike filed four requests on October 27 at the US Patent and Trademark Office to “protect its marks” in this product category.

Nike’s filings seek to impose its marks on “downloadable virtual goods, namely computer programs featuring footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys, and accessories for use online and in online virtual words.”

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    Nike heading into the metaverse?

    On Twitter, trademark lawyer Josh Bergen surmised, “Nike is heading to the metaverse.”

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    Bergen added: “These filings indicate an intent to make and sell NIKE-branded VIRTUAL shoes and clothing.”

    Players of the NBA 2K series may already be familiar with the concept, as Nike has been offering virtual items as microtransactions in the series’ MyCareer mode. The concept as a whole has been a contentious one for the fanbase, as the series has integrated more and more microtransactions through the years.

    Digital items have also made headlines over the pandemic year as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, broke into the mainstream. A blockchain-enabled process “mints” these items as a unique digital asset. Nike has not yet announced its own NFTs, though in December 2019, it secured a patent for “Cryptokicks.”

    The news comes as Mark Zuckerberg made the big announcement that his company Facebook would rebrand into Meta, and focus its attention on creating a “metaverse” that hopes to smash the real and digital worlds closer together through various technologies, including virtual and augmented reality.

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    Digital items will play a major part in this metaverse. As Facebook explains in its "Vision for the Metaverse": “We’re working on new tools that [augmented reality] creators can use to place digital objects in the physical world and let people interact with them, realistically, with depth and occlusion.”

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