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The basics of Web3 intellectual property

Amberfi engaged the services of Lance Koonce of a leading Web3 intellectual law firm, Klaris, to answer questions from members of the community.  

Have a question about digital collectibles and the law? Let us know and your question may be answered in a future column. Ask the Attorney appears Wednesdays in Amberfi.


Q: Can you give us a rundown of how copyright law offers protection to intellectual property in Web3?


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A: The key pieces of intellectual property that we typically have to deal with are copyright protection, trademark protection and occasionally patent protection.


Beyond that, there are things that fall into realm of intellectual property or on the edges of it. These include rights of publicity, which is the right to use people’s likeness and image — you need their signed permission if you’re going to use someone’s likeness in a commercial setting. Intellectual property also covers items like trade secrets, which aren’t really as applicable here.


But the underlying thrust of IP protection is copyright. Copyright protects the content you create. In the United States, you have that protection from the moment you put pen to paper, or click your shutter on your camera, or create a piece of music. You can also register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office if you’d like, but you have intellectual protection from the word go in anything that comes out of a human’s mind — original music, a screenplay, a novel, whatever it is.


On top of that, trademark obviously is more connected to brands. So, if you have something that signifies that a product comes from a particular source, like a logo or tagline, that’s the realm of trademark law, and then patent law, which covers inventions that are unique. So those are the main sort of pieces of the intellectual property framework. And it applies equally to Web3, NFTs and the digital realm as much as it does to the physical world.


Image at top: Simon Berger/Unsplash


Editor’s note: This is another in a series about NFTs and the law. Check out our blog for additional articles on the subject that will appear each week. Listen to our podcast episode with Lance Koonce on these topics here.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this Web page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information and content on this page are for general informational purposes only. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter, and you should not act nor refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.

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