Navigating the Virtual Realm: UKIPO's trademark guidelines for virtual goods and services

The rapid advancement of technology has given rise to new forms of goods and services, particularly in the virtual realm. As a result, there has been a surge in applications for trade marks related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual goods, and services provided in the metaverse. In response to this trend, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has released guidelines to provide clarity on the classification of these goods and services for trademark purposes. These guidelines are essential for businesses operating in the virtual goods industry to navigate the trademark registration process effectively and protect their intellectual property rights.


Igor Demcak

Trademark classes and virtual goods and services

NFTs, which originated from cryptocurrency networks, function as unique and unalterable digital certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets like art, collectibles, and gaming items. The UKIPO acknowledges the growing importance of NFTs and their association with various types of assets. However, it emphasizes that the term "NFT" alone is insufficient for trademark classification due to its inherent vagueness. Instead, the UKIPO suggests specific terminology in Class 9, such as "digital art authenticated by non-fungible tokens [NFTs]" or "downloadable software authenticated by NFTs." These guidelines align with the 12th Edition of the Nice Classification, which includes "Downloadable digital files authenticated by non-fungible tokens [NFTs]" in Class 9.

While NFTs are primarily associated with digital assets, they can also authenticate physical goods. Therefore, the UKIPO accepts clearly defined physical goods authenticated by NFTs in their respective classes. For example, artwork, handbags, or training shoes authenticated by NFTs may be classified in Classes 16, 18, and 25, respectively. Additionally, NFTs can be retailed and provided via online marketplaces. The UKIPO allows the use of terminology like "Retail services connected with the sale of virtual clothing, digital art, audio files authenticated by NFTs" or "Provision of online marketplaces for buyers and sellers of goods and services authenticated by NFTs" in Class 35.

Virtual goods, unlike physical goods, are classified in Class 9 of the Nice Classification system. However, the UKIPO emphasizes the importance of clarity and conciseness in defining virtual goods. Terms like "downloadable virtual clothing, footwear, or headgear" and "downloadable virtual handbags" are considered acceptable in Class 9.

Furthermore, the guidelines address virtual services provided in the metaverse. The metaverse refers to digital realities where users can access virtual worlds and interact with others. The UKIPO recognizes that services traditionally provided in person can now be delivered virtually through internet-based applications. Examples of acceptable terminology for services delivered through virtual means include "education and training services delivered by virtual means" in Class 41 and "conducting interactive virtual auctions" in Class 35.

In the case of services delivered within the metaverse, the UKIPO acknowledges that services capable of virtual delivery can also be provided within the metaverse environment. For instance, education and training services can be provided via the metaverse, and interactive auctions can be conducted within the metaverse. These services would be classified in the same class as their traditional forms of delivery, using terms like "education and training services provided via the metaverse" and "conducting interactive auctions via the metaverse." However, services related to ordering food and drink within the metaverse for consumption within the virtual realm would not fall under Class 43.


The release of the UKIPO's trademark guidelines for virtual goods, NFTs, and services in the metaverse marks a significant and pivotal moment for the industry. These guidelines provide much-needed clarity and recognition of the evolving landscape of virtual assets, ensuring that businesses can effectively protect their intellectual property rights in this rapidly expanding domain. By addressing the classification of NFTs, virtual goods, and services, the UKIPO demonstrates its commitment to keeping pace with technological advancements and supporting innovation. These guidelines not only enable businesses to navigate the trademark registration process with confidence but also signal the growing importance of virtual goods and services in our digital era.

Igor Demcak
Igor Demcak

Trademark Attorney

Founder & CEO of Trama

7 year experience in IP protection

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