A number of metaverse-related trademark applications have been denied registration by the National Intellectual Property Administration These included submissions made by NetEase, iQiyi and Xiaohongshu
The Chinese government has started rejecting various metaverse-related trademark applications, as authorities move to prevent abuse of the registration process amid the frenzied pace of submissions by many companies since last year.
Multiple trademark applications containing the word yuan yuzhou – translated as metaverse in Mandarin – have been denied registration by the National Intellectual Property Administration, according to the latest data from business and trademark registration tracking firm Tianyancha. Some of those refused registration were applications from video gaming giant NetEase, streaming video provider iQiyi and social commerce platform operator Xiaohongshu.
Applications filed by the likes of Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and ByteDance were still pending review by the regulator, according to information from Chinese business registration tracking platform Qichacha. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. The recent action taken by China’s intellectual property (IP) regulator showed a deliberate strategy to deal with the rush of metaverse-related applications, while preventing trademark squatting and misunderstanding among consumers, according to a person inside the agency who declined to be named on Monday. This person, who has no authority to comment on official matters, indicated that the procedure for a second review of an application that was denied might take six to eight months to complete. Some 153 denied applications are now awaiting second review as of Monday, according to Tianyancha.
About 1,510 mainland Chinese companies, mostly in the technology sector, have recently applied to register trademarks related to the metaverse – the concept of a shared virtual environment that users access via the internet – according to a report on Sunday by Chinastarmarket.cn, an affiliate of the state-backed Shanghai United Media Group, citing data from Tianyancha. That number was up from the 130 companies which filed applications four months ago, according to Tianyancha.
Many consider the metaverse as the next phase of the internet. The term, which was coined by American writer Neal Stephenson for his 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash, refers to a lifelike, immersive virtual world where people can meet, work and play using devices including virtual reality headsets, video gaming consoles, and gadgets that offer augmented reality technology like smartphones and smart glasses.
The recent rejection of certain metaverse-related applications, according to one mainland IP researcher, showed how Chinese authorities are attempting to strike a balance between this concept’s potential economic impact and the hype surrounding it in the tech industry.
“What I see is the government encouraging enterprises to enter the metaverse arena with genuine technological capability,” said Chen Gaojie, from IP research firm PatSnap. “The metaverse involves many core cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.”
NetEase, China’s second-largest video games publisher after Tencent, received notices of rejection earlier this month on several of its metaverse-related trademarks, including “NetEase Metaverse” and others corresponding to its gaming studio Leihuo, artificial intelligence laboratory Fuxi and virtual meeting platform Yaotai. NetEase applied to register 26 such trademarks in total, according to a report by state-owned Securities Daily in December. The company’s other applications are still pending review, according to Tianyancha. Xiaohongshu, which applied to register “Xiaohongshu Metaverse” last September, received a notice of rejection earlier this month. The metaverse-related application of iQiyi was denied last December. It is now in the process for a second review. Alibaba had filed 31 applications since September through its Singapore subsidiary for various metaverse trademarks related to its corporate name and business units such as AliCloud, Taobao and DingTalk. TikTok owner ByteDance applied to register six trademarks last October, while Tencent submitted 99 metaverse-related applications since September, according to Qichacha. Chinese electric vehicle makers, including NIO and Xpeng, have also filed applications for metaverse-related trademarks in recent months.