Even Shaquille O’Neal makes a leap into the metaverse.
The former NBA star, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, filed three trademark applications for the word “SHAQ” last month. According to the filings, these marks apply to items such as “non-downloadable virtual shoes, clothing, hats, eyewear” and more “for use in virtual environments”.
Authentic Brands Group currently owns and operates O’Neal branded products. O’Neal is also currently the second largest individual shareholder of the company, which has made headlines in dozens of brand and retail acquisitions including Forever 21, Barneys New York and JCPenney.
“Just as you can buy a branded product in the real world that is marked ‘Shaq’, you can now buy one in the virtual world,” said trademark attorney Josh Gerben of the law firm Gerben.
The launch of a virtual product line would align with O’Neal’s overarching goal of having his name “forever,” a reason he said he joined forces with ABG in first place. In addition to owning various brands and retailers, ABG also owns the rights to various celebrities including Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. ABG also filed for trademarks in December for Elvis Presley and Sports Illustrated, also indicating a desire to protect those marks in a new virtual realm.
“The existing registrations they have on these marks don’t cover virtual products because virtual products weren’t a thing five or 10 years ago,” Gerben said, explaining why so many brands are filing trademarks for brands. products and phrases in the virtual world. “No one really thought you could ever need protection on something like this.”
Over the past few months, ABG has doubled its expansion into the Metaverse. Forever 21, which was acquired by ABG in 2020 after the fashion company’s bankruptcy in 2019, recently launched an exclusive partnership with Virtual Brand Group, a metaverse creation company, which allows users to buy and sell Forever 21 merchandise and to customize their own stores on the Roblox Platform video game.
Other retail companies are also diving into the new arena. In December, Nike Inc. acquired RTFKT, a digital designer of sneakers, collectibles and virtual accessories. Prior to that, Nike filed seven trademark applications related to its goal of creating and selling virtual sneakers and clothing. It has also partnered with the video game platform Roblox to launch “Nikeland”, a digital world for Nike fans to play games, connect and dress their avatars in virtual clothing via a room. digital exhibition, which includes products like the Air Force 1 and the Nike Blazer. .
Adidas Originals recently released their first NFT (Non-Fungible Token) collection titled “Into the Metaverse”. NFT owners received exclusive access to Adidas Originals experiences and products, including virtual clothing for the gaming world based on The Sandbox blockchain and other platforms, as well as a corresponding exclusive physical product.
“All brands will want to have some brand protection around the products they might sell in the virtual world,” Gerben said. He also highlighted the income gains that come from being able to produce and sell goods without factories and materials, and how virtual sales can boost purchases of durable goods in real life.
Other brands have also hinted that they might take the virtual leap. When asked recently if it was possible to get into the Metaverse, GOAT group COO Yunah Lee kept an open mind without revealing any upcoming news.
“Anything is possible,” Lee said at the company conference. virtual presentation at ICR 24th annual conference on Wednesday. “NFT, Web 3.0, we continue to monitor very closely and we believe these spaces will continue to converge.