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The metaverse is a hoax, or not (and NFTs too). Fantasies, realities and expectations

"To address the phenomenon of the metaverse, it is convenient to do it from a triple perspective, technological, business and legal"
New York exhibits Gaudí's architecture 'alive' thanks to the metaverse. (EFE/Sarah Yáñez-Richards)
Background image: New York exhibits Gaudí's architecture 'alive' thanks to the metaverse. (EFE/Sarah Yáñez-Richards)

There is no day without news about him metaverse, it seems that the stories are not exhausted and although some are laughable, others make one think.

In a world of weak memory, it is worth remembering the fiascoes suffered around technology: The supposed new economy of .com, the Y2K apocalypse and app-based businesses. All of these were phenomena of possible technology-based businesses, where the expectations of many were frustrated and the savings of many others disappeared. And some things that are read and heard sound the same.

This is not skepticism, or perhaps it is, but in any case it is a call to prudence We live in a very different economic and social situation from the one in which those “technological scams” ​​took place. The economy is now digital and society navigates on mobile devices. Therefore, now as then, coming out triumphant or reaping resounding failure depends on making a rational approach rather than an emotional one.

To address the phenomenon of the metaverse, it is convenient to do it from a triple perspective, technological, business and legal. The technological environment tells us what is possible now and what is pending and this determines what can and will be done from a business point of view. And the legal framework must be reviewed, if only to determine if we need a radical change, just an adaptation or leave it as it is.

The technological environment

From a technological point of view, the metaverse, as defined by Matthew Ball, “A series of interconnected persistent virtual environments rendered in 3D that simulate reality”, is still a long way off. "Ready player one" would be a visualization of it.

This ideal environment has technological requirements that have not yet been met. An enormous computing capacity is required, communications superior to 5G and the development of artificial intelligence applied to virtual reality and augmented reality that we still do not have.

But this does not mean that we should wait for events. We know that in some applications of AI, such as autonomous cars, development will not be immediate or surprising, but continuous, sustained and incremental. 

What to do, when to do it and where

And if this is the technological landscape, the next question leads us to the Business environment: What to do depends on the company. Some may adopt the position of waiting for events, but it is better to deploy a more or less intense activity depending on the case. Therefore, it is vital to make a calm reflection, sit down and think, what am I going to do, why and in what period.

Another of the myths of the metaverse is that it is a new territory, where there is no law or order. This is not like this.

we live in europe, where the development of a solid legal framework for the digital world has been developing for a long time. We are creating standards for Artificial Intelligence, the data economy and digital markets and services and not only that, but we are influencing other areas of the world, the so-called “Brussels effect” applies to this new economy in a very clear way. Therefore, in economic activities related to the metaverse, as occurs in the others referred to, the rules of European Law on competition, data protection and consumer protection they will apply to all those who do business in Europe or with Europeans. 

The legal issues come in the first place from the conception of this form of Web 3 in which we are going to move. We don't know yet if it will be decentralized (like the Internet in its origins) or if the big players will prevail. At the moment we find metaverses with DAO schemes (which raise questions about organizational stability and responsibilities) and other owners. In both cases, knowing the terms and conditions is the key.

The themes of competition law will surely come up. Users will want to be able to move through various metaverses using a single avatar, platforms will have to find a solution based on interoperability, a concept from the 90s that has made a strong comeback in the data economy.

The themes of industrial and intellectual property They are already and will be of great importance. Three years ago we celebrated the XNUMXst congress in Alicante in March FIDE/AU “Can robots invent and create? A dialogue between Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property” and we talked about some related topics, as we did a few months later in the Congress FIDE “AI, Big Data and digital economy” held at Oxford. Later I made some comments in the magazine of the Leading Brands Forum on new scenarios for brands. What we saw then is materializing now

Companies consumer products they create virtual worlds to bring their brands closer to new consumers and that already raises questions: can you have a Vuitton bag for your avatar to wear at a reasonable price? And can it be resold? Do I have to register my marks in the metaverse, in which classes? Are real shoes and virtual shoes the same product? Trademark offices are already laying down criteria, it is a matter of little time before this issue is clarified.

Derived from this we find the litigation. We already have some notorious conflicts, the cases of the Birkin bag and Nike are two examples, there will be more.

It has been said that actions cannot be taken for actions carried out in the metaverse and that is not true, there are already judicial resolutions that order certain measures from the platforms. The metaverse is based on the Internet and in this environment we can make claims to the platforms, we have notice and take down systems in relation to content, etc. There will be harmonization, but not profound changes.

NFTs AND THEIR ROLE IN THE METAVERSE

NFTs play an important role in the metaverse. But they also have a life of their own, in art, video games and other sectors where tokenization opens up possibilities. We will see this in another article.

Final thoughts

In the metaverse there are current and future realities that we cannot ignore, that there is so much hype should not lead us to think that everything is a pure hoax. Perhaps the road is longer than it seemed at first, but we will see it as a new phase of the digital economy, in which it will be very difficult not to be involved. So, with prudence, it will be necessary to take positions, explore and make mistakes.

Javier Fernandez-Lasquetty

Lawyer, partner of Elzaburu. Academic Advisor of Fide.

Article originally published in the Blog Fide in the withfideinitial

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