UKIPO Guide: Classification of non-fungible tokens (NFT), virtual goods and services provided in the metaverse

The UK Intellectual Property Office, also known as UKIPO, published a guide entitled “The classification of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual goods and services provided in the metaverse”. What is it about? We’ll take a look at it in this NFTexpress article.

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) published on April 3 a comprehensive guide entitled “The classification of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual goods and services provided in the metaverse.“. The aim of the UK Government Office is that those brands that want to register any of these services can understand and know how the NFT sector is being regulated due to its rapid growth and expansion worldwide.

This release called PAN 23/2 was made after many registration authorities have seen an increasing number of trademark applications containing digital services such as NFTs, real estate and metaverse.

Also, these entities have received requests for guidance on acceptable ways to frame these terms and the right kind of framing, as, being a completely new field, many companies and brands still need to know in more depth what this ecosystem is all about.

Accordingly, this NAP aims to provide clarity and recognize terms representative of new forms of goods and services in the fast-moving technological field. In addition, they have already confirmed that the idea is to update this guide as new developments and fields to be explored by companies emerge.

¿How does UKIPO explain and define NFTs??

UKIPO starts its guide by saying that non-fungible tokens were born as a consequence of cryptocurrencies and serve as certificates of ownership of digital authenticity. Also, it adds that these certificates are unique and unalterable for both virtual and physical assets (art, collectibles and games).

On the other hand, he cites the exact definition of NFT according to the Cambridge Dictionary, which states:

“NFT is a unique unit of data (the only existing one of its kind) that is linked to a particular piece of digital art, music, videos, etc. and can be bought and sold between two parties.”

Then, following on from the statement released by the UK Intellectual Property Office, it adds that non-fungible tokens are primarily used to represent ownership of an asset, although not necessarily IP such as copyright.

For example, a unique piece of digital artwork or an audio file can be minted as NFT, allowing the ownership of that digital asset to be proven and managed through the corresponding entry on the blockchain.

UKIPO also broke down which types of terminology it will accept:

  • Digital art authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Downloadable graphics authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Downloadable software, (list product type), authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Digital audio files authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Downloadable digital files authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

On the other hand, he clarifies that NFTs are commonly related to digital assets, but non-fungible tokens are likely to be used to authenticate anything such as physical goods.

Accordingly, physical goods authenticated by NFTs will also be accepted in the corresponding asset class, which are:

  • Works of art, authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Handbags, authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

    Sneakers, authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

UKIPO logo – source: Intellectual Property Office – GOV.UK

They also made it clear that NFTs can be retailed through online marketplaces and in the same manner as other goods and services. Accordingly, UKIPO will accept the following terminologies:

  • Retail services related to the sale of e.g. virtual clothing, digital art, audio files, authenticated by non-fungible tokens.

  • Provision of online marketplaces for buyers and sellers of authenticated goods and services using non-fungible tokens.

Finally, it boasted of explaining other services such as: linking membership of a club or entrance to an event to non-fungible tokens. In this case it provided that they be taken as an entertainment service under Class 41.

¿How does UKIPO explain virtual goods?

The Intellectual Property Office in the United Kingdom clarifies that unlike their physical counterparts, virtual or digital goods are classified according to the Nice Classification System.

This is because the products to which they refer consist of data, such as digital images. However, just as the term “goods” would not be acceptable for physical goods, since they do not meet the clarity requirement, virtual goods will also be treated in the same way.

In other words, virtual goods will only be accepted if they are clearly defined. Some examples that UKIPO shows to understand this are:

  • Downloadable virtual clothing, footwear or headgear.

  • Downloadable virtual bags.


This recent guidance presented by UKIPO on trademark registration in relation to NFTs, virtual goods and the metaverse is a great step in continuing efforts to help companies understand the sector, which has been growing exponentially in recent years.

By providing essential information and guidelines for clients, UK commercial brands that want to relate their services to these new technologies such as NFTs, digital assets, virtual goods and the metaverse, will be able to understand more and more about the subject and develop a more stable and transparent regulatory environment in an industry that is just being born.

NFTexpress wishes to make it clear that all opinions and financial information contained in this website are for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment recommendations. It is important for readers to understand that all investments involve certain risks and should conduct their own research before making any financial decisions. NFTexpress is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information, but is not responsible for the financial decisions made by users.

Written by Rodrigo Catalan (TW: @RodrigoCatalanB) for NFT Express.