UCL Faculty of Laws


Recording: IP and the Metaverse

28 March 2023, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Metaverse and IP

UCL IBIL Brands Seminar 2023

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws Events


Gideon Schreier Lecture Theatre, UCL Laws
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens

About this talk

Everyone, it seems, is talking about the Metaverse: the parallel virtual worlds, where communities of users – via their avatars - play, socialise and collaborate. The next paradigm shift.

It’s not just about games. Increasingly, the Metaverse is about business too, fuelling a burgeoning new economy in virtual products. As in real life, inhabitants of these virtual worlds like to shop, and buy their favourite brands of (virtual) clothing, furniture and other accessories so that they may express their individuality, enhance their surroundings, and acquire and trade other symbols of social status.

Undoubtedly, the Metaverse has created opportunities for IP owners, opening up new markets and licensing strategies which would have been difficult to imagine only a few years ago. But, as the Metaverse is growing, so too is the number of disputes that are arising, including those involving IP rights. For example, in the USA, luxury retailer Hermès is set to go to trial against Mason Rothschild, a digital artist, over his unauthorised sales of ‘MetaBirkin’ nonfungible tokens (NFTs) which depict the well-known Birkin handbag, while Nike is suing online trainer retailer StockX for commercialising Nike’s footwear designs as NFTs.

Taken together, these risks and opportunities raises important questions for IP owners, practitioners, and scholars alike, including:

  • How well are our current IP protection schemes – which already protect ‘intangible’ assets – suited to the virtual Meta-age?
  • Should IP law adapt to the Metaverse, or is it the Metaverse that must adapt?
  • What are the main IP challenges and possible solutions?
  • Where does infringement take place? Who can be sued? Which exceptions might apply?

UCL's Institute of Brand and Innovation Law has brought together a distinguished panel to shed light on this debate.

Chair: The Rt. Hon. Sir Colin Birss, Lord Justice of Appeal and Deputy Head of Civil Justice


  • Darya Firsava, Head of Intellectual Property, Senior Counsel, Wargaming.net
  • Tom Grogan, CEO of MDRxTech and a Director of The Institute of Digital Fashion
  • Dr Stephen Hughes, Lecturer at UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies
  • Dr Michaela MacDonald, Lecturer at School for Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Teaching Fellow at Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University London

Watch the recording

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/vSrCcshz5w0


About the speakers

Dr Stephen Hughes is a lecturer in Science, Technology and Society at UCL’s Dept of Science and Technology Studies. He studies emotional relationships between scientists, innovators, and the public, paying close attention to uncomfortable issues like controversies and conspiracy theories.
Dr Michaela MacDonald is a lecturer at the Queen Mary’s School for Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, as well as being an interactive entertainment law scholar. She is the co-editor-in-chief of the Interactive Entertainment Law Review and an organiser of the More Than Just a Game. Michaela has recently co-authored a WIPO study on copyright infringement in the video game industry and is co-author on a report on IP and The Metaverse commissioned by the UKIPO which is due to be published shortly.
Darya Firsava is the Head of the Intellectual Property Department at Wargaming, the company behind “World of Tanks”, “World of Warships” and other successful videogames. Working with online videogames, Darya deals with the legal issues that will become event more significant once we move into the metaverse, including user-generated content, use of real-world objects, AI, and data protection.
Tom Grogan is CEO of MDRxTech, The Mishcon de Reya Group's technology consultancy. Formerly a lawyer, he now works with some of the world's most innovative organisations, writing strategy and building software to harness the Metaverse and other technology frontiers, while navigating risk.