Metaverse and NFTs, or the mutation of e-commerce

In the beginning there was nothing… or very little. Based on barter, the man never stopped innovating in his own way to trade, almost as if it were his second nature… Farming and breeding, maritime explorations in search of new products, development of transport on land and the sea as in the sky. Trade gradually crossed borders, cities, villages, roads and dangers to be met directly at home encamped before one computer, tablet or smartphone. Who has never shopped online these days? Since already several years, the stars have aligned in favor of marketplaces, these giants of digital commerce through which almost everything buys…

The law has widely worked to make room for digital trade to the benefit of consumers, but also to ensure competition and market stability. The legislature has it
also warned against forms of disloyalty, problems with compliance and set deadlines for deliveries and withdrawals. The Ministry of Economy was quick to condemn
drifts off drop shippinga newer and yet legal practice of digital commerce.

Despite this rapid and everyday adaptation, it seems that digital commerce is evolving in a significant and different way. Initially focused on
consumption of tangible products or services, digital commerce is gradually slipping into the sale of virtual products and services… via other worlds…

The Metaverse: Towards a Transformation of Digital Commerce

What if Steven Spielberg’s movie Ready player 1, released in 2018, turned out to be a prophetic picture of tomorrow’s market? Virtual worlds connected to the Internet where everything can be bought
via virtual currencies and securities? Where everyone would have the opportunity to live their dream life through their avatar? If reality does not yet exceed fiction, some companies have understood
the potential that the metaverse could generate in e-commerce and data collection. It is no coincidence that in 2021 the Facebook company changed its name to
Meta in light of its futuristic program. If the concept seems to come out of a science fiction novel, the number of people connected in these virtual universes continues to increase, and new
new practices… From buying virtual apartments, clothes and artworks…

that metaverse is above all based on an immersive experience made possible by 3D technologies that throw the consumer into a virtual world. As surprising as that
may appear, the user’s avatar may purchase products that are designed virtually and do not necessarily exist in reality. Recently, Nike has invested heavily in
virtual state by selling its selection of shoes: CryptoKicks, whose prices can cover more than 10,000 dollars… Others have the ambition to turn the metaverse into a
vector for the acquisition of virtual real estate through sales, development, rental management, on the same model as standard real estate agents.

Virtual reality headsets, tablets, controllers, there are many products sold physically that aim to optimize the experience of the metaverse. A high-level experience
definition that gives users a higher degree of confidence in the quality of the products they buy. With stores and virtual inventory, the digital trade of
metaverse will no longer be subject to the limitations of opening hours, compliance with delivery deadlines, compliance issues, recruitment of salespeople, etc. If the system seems too
beautiful to be true, it is in any case virtual and all the more advantageous, as it allows the popularity of a product to be tested without manufacturing it, while at the same time giving the consumer a
optimal experience.

The first experience of NFTs

The strong enthusiasm experienced by metaverse today is mainly due to the success of NFTs, which laid the foundation for the new electronic commerce. Started in
the art market sector with the blinding success of the “Bored Ape Yacht Club” collection, whose pictures sell at exorbitant prices, the NFTs have gradually opened up to others
sectors… The cinema took advantage of this momentum to invest the NFT’s market with a first film completely financed in this way and directed by a certain director named Martin
Scorsese… As you will have understood, the NFTs will have benefited from powerful relays, stars, entrepreneurs and influencers in their infancy. They are even a sign of belonging
social, a closed and exclusive club that brings together a community of individuals who have the same family of NFTs.

First experience of the commercial metaverse, the enthusiasm surrounding NFT’s has only pushed the big companies to gear up to conquer a new world.
Amazon has begun equipping itself with technology from the metaverse, while eBay plans to launch its platform for selling NFTs. Avant-garde and visionary, the fashion sector has none
escape this dynamic to take on this new form of creativity. Fashion products, games and NFT’s works diversify the arsenal designed by Gucci, Louis Vuitton or even
Balenciaga in collaboration with renowned designers…

Even if the harvest of glory may experience setbacks such as the recent fall of NFTs with the bursting of the speculative cryptocurrency bubble, it is a fact that
mechanism fascinates and will continue to improve. NFTs have proven to the world that digital commerce is undergoing profound changes across the metaverse. More
than a simple investment, it has transformed into a gateway to a new way of consuming by carving out the lion’s share of 21st century business.

A legal world to rebuild?

The changes in digital commerce are not without clouds and bring their share of questions. If digital, consumer and competition rights
occupy a ready-made place when it comes to classic marketplaces, certain sprains and hesitations must be raised in metaverse. On the one hand, it seems difficult to imagine the future of the metaverse without the decisive action of GAFAM, raising the question of a competitive asymmetry. On the consumer side, there are some who advocate a legal extension of it
personhood and legal protection in the metaverse, while the more conservative propose a distinction of regimes.

Intellectual property law also seems to be affected by this development, with the uncertain legal qualification of NFTs having something to do with it. Being “legal aliens”, fluctuating
between deed and simple token similar to virtual currency, the actions attached to them are uncertain. The relationship between counterfeiting and NFTs has been the focus of particular attention
several disputes in the United States. The New York Court ruled particularly in favor of Hermès about the reverse reproduction in a digital work of his iconic bags
in the work Meta Birkin.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, it will definitely take a few years for the metaverse to take root in practice and digital commerce to take on a new
dimension. The rules of the game will certainly be determined by the practice and the development of this new form of business and the mentalities surrounding it. Some regret
disintermediation of exchanges and disruption of morality at the cost of a new way of consuming that will change in depth. Nevertheless, this phenomenon
already at our doorstep… it’s not about the future… but about now!

Tribune written by Raphaël A. Hérimian, commercial lawyer

<< Læs også: GhostMarket: Enkel og rentabel NFT-handel >>>

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