NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) are becoming more and more economically important, especially with the emergence of web 3.0. There, a host of new use cases in cryptocurrency, the metaverse, digital media and the arts becomes possible. This leads companies to try to secure the use cases for themself with IP, so that many new questions regarding IP risk and IP strategy appear.
This research project aimed to structure the existing understanding of the phenomenon of NFTs from the standpoint of a company considering engaging with the NFT space, and by addressing the research question:
Should NFTs be introduced into IP strategy within a company and if so, in which way?
By looking at the NFTs (1) from the perspective of a company, (2) through the prism of specific possible use cases, and (3) with the goal of identifying the NFT-related opportunities and risk elements relevant for the highest decision-makers within the companies, namely the boards of directors and executive management, this research project has unique interdisciplinary focus.
In the course of this research project, the diverse academic literature on the various aspects related to the NFTs was reviewed, along with certain general business literature in management accounting and control for as far as it concerned the information flow to the boards of directors and executive committees. This was followed by an iterative data collection process of semi-structured in-depth interviews and desk research.
Through the data collection process, the author identified specific NFT use cases outside the much-discussed art and gaming domains, highlighting the associated risks for the diverse use case scenarios. Subsequently, the legal tensions between the NFTs and property rights, and between the NFTs and intellectual property rights were reviewed through the prism of the existent academic research and emerging case law.
The outcome of this research project serves to provide the actionable attention points for the highest strategic decision-makers within a company on opportunities and risks related to NFTs. Finally, the author makes the case for discussing the NFTs within the 360-degree IP strategy framework, as well as enumerates practical recommendations and suggestions for further academic research.
This research project is conducted by MIPLM graduate Maria Boicova-Wynants and supervised by Prof. Dr. Alexander Wurzer and Dr. Thibaud Lelong both CEIPI.
Maria Boicova-Wynants is a partner with Starks, an IP and International trade law firm in Ghent, Belgium. She holds LL.B. from the University of Latvia, MBA from Vlerick Business School and LL.M. (MIPLM) from CEIPI. Maria is a Latvian Patent and Trademark Attorney, European Trademark and Design Attorney, as well as European Mediator in civil and commercial cross-border disputes for almost two decades. Her main areas of expertise are IP strategy, contracts, and alternative dispute resolution. She is also a mediator and art law expert on the list of the Court of Arbitration for Art (the Hague), and the Mediator on the WIPO ADR Centre’s List of neutrals.
Here is a description of the research project: