Given the multifaceted nature of the metaverse, there are an infinite number of conflicts that can arise. Therefore, it is important that the dispute resolution mechanisms used when dealing with metaverse-related disputes are agile enough to respond to the new legal environment.
The term Metaverse was first used in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, published in 1992. The term described a dystopian future world where people escape into an alternate 3D connected reality.
More than 30 years later, we are already experiencing the integration of the Metaverse into many aspects of daily life, including:
Qatar hosted the first EA Sports FIFA Metaverse tournament in 2022, where viewers received free non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that could be exchanged for merchandise and player interactions.
In 2022, Nike introduced Nikeland, a virtual environment where users can try on virtual products and participate in mini-games with their avatars. They can visit Nike’s digital showroom to purchase any clothing item or even create their own Nike-branded accessories from scratch.
Held from March 28 to 31, 2023, Decentraland’s 2nd Metaverse Fashion Week featured more than 60 brands (including Balenciaga, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, and DKNY), and visitors were treated to runway shows, I was able to virtually participate in panel talks, shopping experiences, and the “after.” -party”.
The Metaverse market is expected to reach US$758 billion by 2026 (see “The Metaverse and International Arbitration – How to Forecast and Resolve Web 3.0 Disputes”, Switzerland, Global, March 4, 2022). As you grow, new and complex legal issues arise.
How will legal disputes evolve with the rise of the Metaverse?
Types of metaverse conflicts
To understand the conflicts that may arise, we need to consider the basic components of the metaverse. The metaverse can be broadly classified as follows.
“Roads” and “bridges” that allow users to connect to the Metaverse platform. The hardware and technology behind the Metaverse and how users can access it.
Software and tools that determine how users access the Metaverse and continue to build it.
Immersive experiences and applications that allow people to interact and participate in activities on the Metaverse.and
Metaverse rules and regulations (including accessible content).
Given the multifaceted nature of the metaverse, there are an infinite number of conflicts that can arise. Metaverse disputes can arise from investments in currencies and cryptocurrencies, virtual items and assets, virtual real estate, data, policies, rules, and governance systems.
Authors: Karl Blom (Partner), Anél De Meyer (Senior Associate), Brittany Leroni (Associate at Webber Wentzel)