This week in the metaverse: Best year yet for Web3 trademark filings, Cristiano Ronaldo NFTs, and ‘the world’s first digital nation’

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Welcome to This Week in the Metaverse, where Fortune rounds up the most interesting news in the world of NFTs, culture, and virtual worlds. Email marco.quiroz-gutierrez@fortune.com with tips.

Just three years ago, there were basically no filings for metaverse trademarks, but in 2022 that changed for many companies, according to trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis.

“Now it’s just a part of doing business,” he told Fortune

Since Facebook rebranded to Meta last year, individuals and companies have filed hundreds of related trademarks per month for things like branded NFTS, digital merchandise, or metaverse experiences. The number of metaverse-related trademarks filed each month peaked at 612 in March, and the 4,700 trademarks filed as of October already surpassed the number filed in all of 2021, according to data compiled by Kondoudis.

For large companies, it’s become essential to secure their rights to virtual versions of their products so someone doesn’t associate their brand with similar digital versions of their product, as in the case of Birkin bag creator Hermès’s lawsuit against the creator of the “MetaBirkins” NFTs.

Kondoudis has seen companies increasingly bundle the trademark application for a new physical product with its digital version. Companies can file these trademarks for a few thousand dollars which then allows them to avoid costly litigation, often with a simple cease and desist letter, he added.

“V​irtual products and NFTs are going to be part of the standard trademarking strategy for brands going forward,” Kondoudis said.

In January, Samsung became one of the first companies to jump into the metaverse, and file a trademark in the process. The company launched a digital version of its flagship New York City store called 837X in the Web3 virtual world Decentraland earlier this year and later expanded its metaverse presence to Roblox. 

Michelle Crossan-Matos, the chief marketing officer of Samsung Electronics America, told Fortune that the company created its Decentraland space to help connect with people around the world, especially younger customers. Crossan-Matos, with some input from her 9- and 11-year-old kids, designed the company’s metaverse experiences to give customers an interactive way to experience the brand, and especially its sustainability initiatives.

“Gen Z and Gen Alpha are just going to blow us away with the innovation they can create by joining dots that have no boundaries. There are no borders in the world anymore,” she said. 

Despite the downturn in crypto prices and waning hype surrounding the metaverse, Crossan-Matos said the company will continue to build experiences with the technology. For next year, she said she wants to experiment more with NFT badges or wearables like branded digital clothing.

“The Metaverse won’t be determined by the next six months,” she said. “I think it’s a long-term play of how the next generation really wants to interact with each other and with brands.”

But while Samsung doubles down on its metaverse strategy, the number of metaverse-related trademark applications filed in recent months shows others are slowing down. The number of trademarks filed has declined nearly every month since peaking in March, and a looming recession could mean they taper off further in 2023.

“As the economy slows down,” Kondoudis added, “it’s hard to expand a business or start a new one, so trademark filings tend to come down.”

In other news: 

Nike launched a new Web3 platform called .Swoosh to enable customers to “to learn about, collect, and eventually help co-create,” digital items like virtual shoes or jerseys. The company plans to launch its first NFT products that users can wear in Web3 games starting in 2023. Nike also said in its announcement that some customers could get physical products or an invite to conversations with athletes or designers.

Courtesy of Nike

Just in time for the World Cup, Adidas featured its Bored Ape NFT, also known as Indigo Herz, in an ad alongside soccer stars like Leo Messi of Argentina and Karim Benzema of France. The ad features the Bored Ape NFT, which Adidas bought for 46 Ethereum, or about $156,000, last year on a box of cereal that Benzema eats from in the video. Indigo Herz’s Twitter account retweeted the ad on Monday and incorporated a notable Web3 tagline, “When football is everything, impossible is (probably) nothing.”

Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo partnered with Binance to release a line of more than 6,000 NFTs featuring animated statues of four rarity levels. The five most rare NFTs will be auctioned off on Friday starting at about $10,000 in crypto. Each rarity level has its own perks that could include a personal message from Ronaldo and autographed CR7 & Binance merchandise. 

Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe told the COP27 climate summit this week that the Pacific island nation will create a double of itself in the metaverse as rising sea levels threaten its existence.

Mario Tama—Getty Images

The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu plans to recreate the country in the metaverse as it faces the increasing threat of climate change. “As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation,” Foreign Minister Simon Kofe told the COP27 climate summit this week via video address. In the metaverse, digital Tuvalu will include islands and landmarks aimed at preserving the nation and its heritage.

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