This article was written by Rebecca Howlett, Partner and Head of Beauty and Personal Care, and Jaskeerat Sanghera, Beauty and Personal Care Lawyer, at national law firm Freeths.
Although the beauty industry is entrenched in sensory experiences that focus on touch, smell and feel, it has quickly adapted to the new age of the digital realm by embracing the metaverse.
Brands such as Fenty, L’Oréal and Clinique are increasingly using the metaverse as a new way to interact with consumers by opening digital stores, which allows customers to virtually try on and buy products, while also using the space as a platform to host exclusive launches.
The future of the beauty industry is seemingly shifting towards this virtual world, with the potential for new revenue streams and ways to engage consumers appearing infinite.
As with anything new, but particularly in the digital space, there are a number of legal issues to consider before expanding your activities into the metaverse, such as intellectual property (IP), advertising, consumer law and data protection issues.
For brand owners, protecting your company in the metaverse and having a robust legal strategy to aid in doing so, will be critical.
Clinique entered the metaverse this year with its virtual Clinique Lab
What brand protection do I need?
The metaverse is rife with IP issues and a key concern is brand protection.
Brands should conduct an audit of their IP rights to establish the rights they do have – who owns them, which rights can be enforced, are there vulnerabilities and whether any new trademarks or other IP rights should be filed for.
There is a debate as to whether brands should be robust in their trademark filings to cover all possible scenarios, or if current filings are sufficient to cover any digital versions of products.
The robust approach includes some risks related to defensive filing because this could lead to cancellation actions later on.