Unifred Unifred 14.03.2024

U.S. Government Says Current IP Laws Are Sufficient for NFTs

The United States Copyright Office and the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently stated that there is no need for a change in the existing intellectual property (IP) laws concerning NFTs. The latest decision comes after back-and-forth deliberation on the matter for nearly two years.

In June 2022, an IP subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee requested that the joint body review the existing IP laws and consider if an adjustment is required to accommodate NFT applications. Before arriving at its latest conclusion, both government offices “solicited public comments via a notice of inquiry, held three public roundtables, and examined existing literature and case law.”

Results from the public comments show that commenters believe that artists can impose a royalty fee on NFTs they create, a subject matter on which non-fungible degens express varying opinions. Commenters also believe that NFTs can help brands grow their businesses and “play a supportive role in the management, transfer, or licensing of IP rights.” At the same time, these commenters admitted that NFT traders have no idea what IP laws are implicated during the creation, marketing, and transfer of NFTs. The joint body acknowledged all comments while making its decision.

Highlighting the participants in the public comments and the government’s role in upholding IP rights, Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, said:

“The report reflects extensive input from a broad spectrum of commenters, including creators, brand owners, innovators, academics, and practitioners. We look forward to continuing to engage with stakeholders on emerging technologies and implications for IP rights.”

The joint body encouraged the spread of public education on IP laws alongside product transparency on NFT assets. The government believes that this will help curb the risk of copyright infringement involving NFTs.

While the latest decision did not provide explicit guidelines on how NFTs can be used, the joint study's outcome shows that enthusiasts can continue to explore the non-fungible realm.