In 28 October 2021 Facebook rebranded as Meta, with the aspiration "to be seen as a metaverse company". Since then, there's been a significant buzz about the metaverse – the "next chapter of the internet", according to Mark Zuckerberg. Whilst some commentators suggest that the metaverse is over-hyped, the pandemic (and the switch to remote working and virtual social events) has undoubtedly accelerated our reliance on, and appetite for, digital experiences. Eager to tap into that demand (and fearing being left behind), there has been a movement by platforms and brands to embrace the metaverse and NFT technologies. The advent of the metaverse raises a host of legal issues and will likely test boundaries and force the law to adapt to keep up with this new technology. This briefing sets out our top 10 issues for brand owners who are venturing into the metaverse to consider:
What is the metaverse?
There is no universally accepted definition of the metaverse. To put it most simply, it is a 3D version of the internet, accessed through the use of a virtual reality headset or glasses. But it ranges from a fully immersive, virtual reality world, to a layering of digital content over the real world, where people will socialise, shop, do business, buy real estate and learn. In that digital environment, businesses can replicate their products and services that exist in the real world to create more exciting and interactive virtual products and services. The metaverse may also be a misnomer; as yet there's no single metaverse contemplated, but multiple, overlapping metaverses.