KIPO Trademark Guidelines for Virtual Goods

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Featured, Trademark

Have you recently noticed that notable companies such as Nike, Samsung Construction and Technology Corporation (Samsung C&T), and Hyundai Motor Companies have been increasingly filling trademark applications to cover their virtual goods? Well, all these attempts are meant to protect their trademark rights in the metaverse market. However, each country is determining their own method of how to compare virtual and physical goods, and some countries’ examination methods are detrimental for trademark owners who have physical goods that are likely to be copied in the virtual world. For example, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) recently issued a new trademark examination to act as a guideline for trademark applications for virtual goods.

The New Guidelines

The new trademark examination guidelines for trademark applications that came into effect on July 14, 2022, were meant to help brands to cope with the current trends in the metaverse market. One of the notable issues specified in the guidelines was that virtual goods and physical goods shall not be considered conflicting. For instance, a virtual dress in Class 9 will not be considered the same as a physical dress in Class 25. In other words, the registration of a senior trademark covering “clothes” in Class 25 will not hinder the registration of a third party’s similar mark for “virtual clothes” in Class 9. So, how does this protect current physical goods trademarks? It doesn’t. According to an official from KIPO, a virtual good will be considered not similar to physical goods in terms of trade channels and terms of purpose, making it unlikely to be confused in the market.

Virtual Goods

For this reason, notable companies such as Samsung C&T have filed trademark applications covering their virtual goods for the first time in the construction industry. Their application was meant to safeguard their brand names “Raemian” and “Raemian” Brand Image” (BI), which are used in the physical world and are designated image files that are downloadable from the virtual space or filed related to real estate certified by NFT. The primary objective of Samsung C&T filed trademark applications is to cover their virtual goods and physical goods against trademark infringement that may arise in the virtual world or the metaverse.

Also, Hyundai has made a move in response to these new guidelines, and they’ve filed a trademark application for their logo, the “H symbol,” used in their virtual goods, recorded computer game products” or “virtual reality game software.” According to Hyundai Motor, this move will help them prevent their logo from being imitated in bad faith, particularly in the virtual world.

Is your company selling goods in the virtual world? Contact us today to see how we can help you protect your brand!

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