The apparel giant has taken its first steps into the metaverse. The Oregon-based company has filed several new trademarks this week that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Nike filed applications on Oct. 27 for “Nike,” the brand’s famous slogan “Just Do It,” and its swoosh logo. The following day, two more applications, for the “Air Jordan” and “Jumpman” logos, were filed. In total, seven different applications have been submitted.
“Nike is protecting their trademarks for this new era,” said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney.
The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on its future plans. However, people familiar with its strategy said the space is a priority for the brand and consumers can expect to see more virtual rollouts in the months ahead.
In addition to the trademark requests, Nike also is looking to staff up in the space. According to a search of Nike jobs, the company recently posted openings for a virtual material designer of footwear and other virtual design roles. The job listings, posted on Oct. 23, said, “this role sits in the Digital Product Creation group, a team focusing on igniting the digital and virtual revolution at Nike.”
The trademark filings “would very clearly be a nod to this idea of the metaverse,” Gerben said. “They’re filing new applications for the company’s main trademarks, saying that they’re going to launch and start selling virtual clothing, headwear, shoes, in online and virtual worlds.”
According to Gerben, the new trademarks also provide Nike extra protection in the event others attempt to use the brand in an unlicensed way.
“If you want to police your trademarks in that world, it’s going to be easier if you just own registrations for virtual goods,” he said. Gerben said the trademark filings will also add value to the overall brand portfolio as trademarks are a form of property.
“You can imagine the value that Nike’s name or logo holds if you were just selling, so the more protection you build into your trademarks, arguably the more value you’re adding to the book value of the company,” he added.
This is not the brand’s first foray into the virtual world. In May 2019, the Jordan brand partnered with Fortnite, where characters wore Nike-branded sneakers. Nike has also had several collaborations with the online gaming platform Roblox.
The company is still waiting on a patent filed in April 2019 for “Cryptokicks,” which Nike plans to use as a nonfungible token.
As Nike prepares for the virtual world, its physical world has most recently been impacted by supply chain issues. In its most recent earnings report, on Sept. 23, the company lowered its fiscal 2022 outlook to account for longer transit times, labor shortages and prolonged production shutdowns in Vietnam.
Nike shares are up 18% year to date, putting its market value at more than $265 billion.
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