The first ever MVFW has now come to an end but some wider questions remain about how designers can protect their designs and prevent copycats in future.
As well as providing an opportunity for luxury designers like Dolce & Gabbana to run truly “virtual” runway shows (including feline fashion models!) the event which ran from 24-27 March also created a big opportunity for niche designers to showcase new NFT designs and for high street retailers such as Selfridges and Tommy Hilfiger to launch immersive Metaverse “pop-up” stores.
As we discussed last week, there remains uncertainty over the extent to which “publication” of the designs in question meets legal requirements and we will have to wait and see if events like MVFW see designers having to test legal boundaries to assert their rights against copycats.
However, perhaps even more fundamentally from a law enforcement perspective is the question of how regulation of the Metaverse develops in the enforcement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. In particular, just as with other digital environments such as social media channels and online market place platforms, it is worth considering if dedicated IP right complaint mechanisms will be put in place by regulators to help designers and brand owners prevent damage to their brands and confusion in the marketplace.
As in other new opportunities for promoting their designs, engagement and interaction with customers, part of the price for participating successfully in such a fast-developing new commercial forum while building and maintaining the exclusivity of their designs and brands is for designers and brand owners to consider how best to protect their IP rights and be vigilant to third party activity and to monitor new legal developments in this area.