While it’s uncertain at this point just how profitable the food industry’s efforts to build out a presence in the metaverse will be, what we do know is those sure to make out in the near term around all these food web3 initiatives are trademark attorneys.
All anyone has to do is make a casual search of the USPTO’s trademark database or check out trademark Twitter (there’s a Twitter for everything) to see that there’s been a rush by food brands to file web3-related trademarks to ensure they have their place reserved in the metaverse for whenever they’re ready to make a trip.
Coverage of these filings in the crypto-press is often templatized, usually featuring tweets from one of a couple of trademark attorneys making a name for themselves on crypto twitter by talking about different trademark filings. Whether it’s Snickers or Chuck E. Cheese or Panda Express or you name it, the stories generally tell us these brands are set to enter or headed to or already have entered the metaverse.
And the reality is that many – if not most – of the food brands aren’t heading anywhere right away but are more than likely hedging their bets by filing trademarks to make sure they stake a claim for their brand in the metaverse and have some form of trademark protection for whatever their eventual plans are.
And these hedges often take the form of an exhaustive list of different ways the company may use an NFT. Take, for example, Panera’s filing, which not only hints at Panera’s virtual world called the Paneraverse or presence in a third-party virtual world with the same name, but goes into extensive detail about every which way a restaurant could connect with their consumers via an NFT: virtual goods, tokens for real-world food, NFTs as a foundation for loyalty and incentive programs for discounts on Panera’s food, virtual food, virtual beverages, etc., etc. It’s like Panera’s legal team took a web3 word list, put it in a blender with food terms, and listed the first 200 word combinations on their trademark filing.
But not all brands are just filing long trademark applications. Some, like Wendy’s, are already building out their presence in the metaverse. On April 2nd, they opened their virtual restaurant in Horizon Worlds, a virtual destination called Wendysverse that features a restaurant, town square, and more. Last week, they announced Sunrise City, which is, believe it or not, a breakfast-oriented expansion of the Wendysverse that features gameplay complete with bacon bridges and flying biscuits. Those that enter Sunrise City can get a complimentary breakfast sandwich with purchase.
No matter what stage the effort, food-related brands of all types seem to be reserving their spot in the metaverse for whenever they decide what they want to do, including big beer companies like Miller and Budweiser, CPG brands like Mars and Kraft, and even home appliance companies like Instant Brands.
Just how seriously many of these are remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: the filings – and the buzz around them – will continue for some time.