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New Balance trademark filings hint at NFT and metaverse ambitions

Sneaker manufacturer appears to file trademarks that protect its IP in digital world.

21 January 2022 Steve McCaskill
New Balance trademark filings hint at NFT and metaverse ambitions

New Balance

  • New Balance files three trademarks in the US
  • Other sneaker manufacturers such as Adidas and Nike have already entered the metaverse

Sportswear brand New Balance looks set to enter the market for sneaker-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs), joining rivals who have already made forays into the metaverse.

The company appears to have filed three trademark applications in the US that mention ‘downloadable virtual goods’, ‘retail store services featuring virtual merchandise’ and ‘entertainment services’ that relate to footwear and other sporting equipment.

These trademarks would help protect New Balance’s intellectual property (IP) in the digital world should it proceed with any plans for the metaverse. Such a move is speculative at this point as the company has yet to provide confirmation that it has either filed the trademarks or if it has a strategy in place.

SportsPro has approached New Balance for comment, but the benefits of a footwear company transitioning to the digital world would seem obvious.

There are many similarities between the real-world sneaker market and NFTs. Both rely on limited edition ‘drops’, rare items can sell for significant amounts of money, and there is a huge number of collectors that want to acquire items either for prestige or in the hope their value will increase.

Meanwhile, the virtual environments that comprise the metaverse are seen as a valuable tool of engagement and revenue opportunity for companies in all industries. Sportswear manufacturers can use their brand and design expertise to create NFTs and other digital items that can be used and traded across various metaverse spaces.

Nike has acquired virtual sneaker and collectible creator RTKFT to aid its NFT efforts, while it also recently launched a digital space in the Roblox online game platform. The virtual ‘Nikeland’ includes the backdrop of the company’s headquarters, as well as arenas where players can compete in various mini-games. Adidas has also dabbled in NFTs, partnering with Prada and the Bored Ape Yacht Club, among others.

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