Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

NFTs, Intellectual Property, and Art: An Overview in Three Parts (Part 3 of 3)

woman in front of digital tech

In the first and second parts of our series on NFTs,[1] we discussed where NFTs derive their value and what this new breed of digital tokenization means for IP-rights creators, holders, and users. 

In this third and final instalment, we look at the history of NFTs from an artistic perspective and what their emergence means for the world of digital art.

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NFTs and Intellectual Property: An Overview in Three Parts (Part two of three)

woman in front of digital tech

In the first part of our series on NFTs,[1] we discussed what an NFT is and what “ownership” of an NFT provides.  You’ll recall that a non-fungible token is a unique blockchain-based “token” that consists of a chain of digital references to a specific intangible asset (e.g., digital files encoding music, art, video, icons, etc.). 

In this instalment, we consider what NFTs could mean for IP rights creators, owners, and users.

Part 2: NFTs and IP Law

As discussed in part 1, the purchaser of an NFT cannot automatically claim ownership over the underlying digital asset, or any rights to that asset. What is acquired is simply the ability to exclusively transfer the NFT’s ownership status. What, therefore, is the value of NFTs to creators, holders, or users of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in those digital assets? Surely the NFT’s owner is the only person who can display, download or access the digital work?  Not surprisingly, the answer is not as simple as many would like.

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NFTs, Intellectual Property and Art: An Overview in Three Parts

woman in front of digital tech

Earlier this year, something called an “NFT” sold for $69 million USD at auction.[1] This was likely the first time most people had ever heard the term “NFT.” From that point forward, discussions of various NFTs were everywhere; as a result, they entered mainstream consciousness, much like Bitcoin had nearly ten years ago. In fact, NFT or “non-fungible token” was named word of the year for 2021.[2]

Artists, musicians, and other creatives now saw in their work the potential for monetization. Investors woke up to the value of digital art assets. Indeed, in the first half of 2021, NFT transactions totalled in the billions.

Despite their near ubiquity, it is unclear to many what NFTs are and what role they play in the digital marketplace.  Just as it may be unwise for investors, collectors, and creators to ignore the burgeoning NFT industry, it may be equally unwise for those same people to ignore potential issues arising from this new asset class.  Even more unclear is what, if anything, these new digital assets mean for the users and owners of intellectual property (“IP”) rights. 

This series of articles tries to demystify NFTs and discuss what impact they may have for creators, users, and owners of IP rights. We aim to shed light on the intersection of technology, the creative industries, and IP law that arises with NFTs.

In our first article, we will discuss the nature of NFTs. In our second article, we will discuss the impact of NFTs on IP rights holders. In our final article, we will discuss the applicability of NFTs in the world of digital art.

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Promoting Canadian Intellectual Property on World Intellectual Property Day

Today, April 26th, is World Intellectual Property Day.  This year’s theme is shining a light on the critical role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the economy and how they can use intellectual property (“IP”) to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.

On April 19th, 2021, the Canadian government released its first budget under the COVID pandemic (“Budget 2021”).  Budget 2021 addresses the Government of Canada’s fight against COVID-19 and its desire to ensure a robust economic recovery.  As part of the latter, Canada is investing in innovation.

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Because It’s 2020: Will Virtual Hearings Become the Norm?

The legal profession is already feeling the impacts of the coronavirus, and following recent judgements in Arconti v. Smith  and Natco Pharma (Canada) Inc. v. Canada (Health), videoconferencing technology is fast becoming a fixture of court proceedings[1] .

In Arconti, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that if the Plaintiffs wanted to examine for discovery one of the Defendants, they had to do it by videoconference, or forfeit the examination. Judge Myers ruled that there was no reason to hold up the proceedings until a traditional, in-person examination could take place once the pandemic restrictions had been lifted. He deemed videoconferencing “more efficient and less costly” than in person examination, reminding us that, after all, “it’s 2020”, and courts should make use of the technology available to them rather than clinging to the usual ways of proceeding. He also stated that in this day and age, a certain level of skill in using technology should be expected of lawyers and the courts.

The plaintiffs resisted discovery by videoconference, arguing that as opposed to in-person examination there is loss of communication and a risk of coordination by the witness and their counsel. The plaintiffs also argued that the lack of a courtroom setting might remove some pressure on witnesses to tell the truth, could facilitate abuse of process, and would reduce the ability to observe witness demeanor.

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