Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) And Trademark Infringement: Real-World IP Rights in the Virtual Space: Art, Technology, and the Law?


From the Bored Apes collection to Jack Dorsey’s auctioned Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) of his first-ever tweet, “just setting up my twttr”, which sold for over US$2.9 million, the creation and sale of NFTs is one that took the world by storm, generating millions for its owners, and establishing a whole new branch of blockchain exchange; and in turn, a legal system for its protection. As in the words of John F. Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present, are certain to miss the future”. It is however pertinent that for the proper dissection of this topic, the true meaning of NFTs, how they operate, and what they entail should be studied. NFTs are blockchain-based units of value or “tokens”, with a unique ID linked to an underlying asset.  The blockchain most frequently used for NFTs is Ethereum. However, it should be noted that NFTs can be held on other blockchains. NFTs comprise of software code in the form of “smart contracts”. These smart contracts consist of the details of the central digital or physical asset to which the NFT relates, and also the rules and rights attached to the NFT (for example, a rule that the original creator of the NFT gets paid a percentage of any subsequent resale value).  The blockchain, an innovative technology, has established itself as a crucial component of modern technology. NFTs are one of these innovations and the subject of this article. NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital certificates registered on a blockchain, that represents ownership of a given virtual or tangible item such as a work of art, real estate, music, books, memes, or videos. Examples of NFTs are digital artworks, fashion accessories, avatar customization, sports highlights and memorabilia, music, etc. Impressively, the NFT market has gained so much popularity in Nigeria.

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Blessing Ajunwo – Choko

Managing Associate

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