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Chinese companies embark on a metaverse trademark race

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Despite the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) warning on metaverse and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) in November, more than a thousand Chinese companies have submitted thousands of metaverse-related trademark applications.

In a summit back in November, Gou Wenjun, the PBOC’s AML and Analysis Center Director, warned about the dangers of digital assets. According to Gou, because virtual assets have no physical basis, they can be used for illegal financial activities. Gou cited activities such as “illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and fraud.”

However, ignoring the PBOC’s warnings, Chinese companies rushed to register metaverse-related trademarks such as “metaverse satellite” and “metaverse exhibition.” According to the South China Morning Post, more than 1,360 Chinese companies submitted 8,534 trademark applications related to the metaverse by Sunday.

Most of the companies that applied for trademark registrations are tech firms. This includes big companies like Huawei and Hisense. The former applied to register “Meta OS” while the latter applied with several trademarks in various areas like social services, advertising, and science. Gaming and tech giant Tencent also joined in, having registered almost a hundred metaverse-related trademark applications including “QQ Metaverse”, “QQ Music Metaverse,” and “Kings Metaverse.”

Aside from the PBOC’s warning, People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, also issued a warning about the metaverse back on Dec. 9. The newspaper warned people who engage in digital asset purchases — namely, that property sales within metaverses carry high risks of volatility.

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The trademark applications didn’t come as a surprise to many as demand for NFTs is on the rise. According to the NFT sales tracker Crypto Slam, NFT sales in the past seven days alone amount to $580.7 million. According to research by Cointelegraph Consulting, NFT sales are expected to top $17.7 billion in 2021.