After NFTs exploded over the past year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Copyright Office are launching a joint study to investigate the digital assets’ impact on intellectual property rights.
The study comes about a month after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, wrote to the offices asking them to look into NFTs given their exponential growth in a short period of time.
“Tillis has been out front looking to revise the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] for quite some time,” Gordon Allott, president and CEO of regulatory tech for digital assets and virtual currency at BroadPeak Partners, said to TechCrunch. “Everyone is reasonably familiar with the phrase, ‘I got DMCA’d.’”
The letter from the senators piqued the interest of the agencies: “As requested, we write to confirm our receipt of your letter and to advise that we will indeed conduct the study,” the offices wrote. “The USPTO and the USCO have had preliminary discussions on next steps and on how to best consult with stakeholders about this topic.”
This is the first move to get NFTs on Congress’ agenda next term, Allott said. “Stakes on copyright infringement have gone up with NFTs. Someone can steal your copyright, sell it as an NFT and then vanish. You can DMCA until the cows come home but you’re not going to get your money.”