Earlier this year, in an effort to safeguard Kobe Bryant's name in the metaverse, his estate applied for three trademarks for virtual goods. Bloomberg.com says that the filings include “Kobe Bryant” and “Mamba Forever” for digital items such as clothing, jewlery, avatars, emotes, toys and trading cards, and “Mambacita” in reference to Gianna Bryant, for "virtual and digital interactive representations of Gianna 'Gigi' Bryant for use in virtual experiences and the metaverse," also including NFTs..
In order to have direct control over his commercial dealings, Bryant founded Kobe Inc. in 2013. The Bryant family has already registered trademarks under the company. Under Kobe Inc., the business that has owned all of the basketball legend's trademarks since his passing two years ago, the Bryant family has registered for a number of trademarks during the past year in the categories of footwear, apparel, and wine.
Josh Gerben, a Washington-based trademark attorney that follows many of the trademark filings of celebrities, noted that the estate’s filings were the first trademarks of such on behalf of an NBA star. “There's been this avalanche of trademark filings from different companies and celebrities to protect their rights as it pertains to things in the metaverse," Gerben said.
The sports sector is becoming more aware of virtual goods as they gain popularity. Nike Inc. purchased a digital collectibles business late last year and launched its own virtual world on the Roblox gaming platform.
I guess it’s safe to say that as technology evolves, so will the ways and options to protect one’s brands.