On November 23, 2022, the US Patent & Trademark Office and the US Copyright Office announced that they are seeking public input on intellectual property (IP) considerations related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The agencies will hold three public roundtables directed to patents, trademarks and copyrights, respectively, scheduled as follows:
- January 10, 2023 – Patents and NFTs
- January 12, 2023 – Trademarks and NFTs
- January 18, 2023 – Copyrights and NFTs.
The roundtables will be livestreamed, and the agencies will post instructions for registration to view them live. Requests to participate as a panelist in any of the roundtables must be received by December 21, 2022, to be considered.
The agencies also issued a request for comments, soliciting answers to 13 questions of particular interest:
- Describe current and potential future uses of NFTs in your field or industry.
- Describe any IP-related challenges or opportunities associated with NFTs or NFT markets.
- Describe how NFT markets affect the production of materials subject to IP protection.
- Describe whether, how and to what extent NFTs are used by or could be used by IP rights holders to
- Document the authenticity of an asset
- Document the seller’s ownership of or authority to sell an asset
- Document the seller’s authority to transfer any relevant or necessary IP rights associated with an asset
- Document any limitations related to IP rights surrounding the sale, or the purchaser’s use, of an asset.
- Describe whether, how and to what extent NFTs present challenges for IP rights holders, or those who sell assets using NFTs, with respect to the activities described in question 4.
- Describe whether, how and to what extent NFTs are used by, could be used by, or present challenges or opportunities for IP rights holders to
- Obtain their IP rights
- Transfer or license their IP rights
- Exercise overall control and management of their IP rights
- Enforce their IP rights.
- Describe how and to what extent copyrights, trademarks and patents are relied on, or anticipated to be relied on, in your field or industry to
- Protect assets that are associated with NFTs
- Combat infringement associated with NFT-related assets offered by third parties
- Ensure the availability of appropriate reuse of NFT-related assets.
- Are current IP laws adequate to address the protection and enforcement of IP in the context of NFTs? If not, explain why and describe any legislation you believe should be considered to address these issues.
- Describe any IP-related impacts those in your field or industry have experienced in connection with actual or intended uses of NFTs. Describe any legal disputes that have arisen in the following contexts, and the outcome of such disputes, including citations to any relevant judicial proceedings:
- The relationship between the transfer of an NFT and the ownership of IP rights in the associated asset
- The licensing of IP rights in the asset associated with an NFT
- Infringement claims when either (i) an NFT is associated with an asset in which another party [...]