In a striking counterpoint to the heightened crypto skepticism during the current bear market, financial services giants Visa, PayPal, and Western Union were among the notable firms that filed new trademark applications involving crypto and Web3 related products and services in the past week.
Visa eyeing a crypto wallet and metaverse
According to Visa's filings, the firm is contemplating a "cryptocurrency wallet," describing it as "software for users to view, access, store, monitor, manage, trade, send, receive, transmit, and exchange digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital and blockchain assets, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)."
Visa may also set up shop in the metaverse, as it is mulling "providing virtual environments in which users can interact for recreational, leisure or entertainment purposes accessible in the virtual world."
PayPal still working on its own wallet
PayPal's trademark application mentions "crypto" 18 times, beginning with "downloadable software for sending, receiving, accepting, buying, selling, storing, transmitting, trading and exchanging digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, stablecoins, digital and blockchain assets, digitized assets, digital tokens, crypto tokens and utility tokens."
PayPal already allows its users to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC), and send it to wallets elsewhere, but it is clearly still building out its own crypto wallet.
Western Union going bigger on digital currency
Western Union's filing appears to cover every aspect digital payments, including "the management and maintenance of digital currency and electronic wallets." Like the others, WU plans "downloadable software for generating cryptographic keys for receiving and spending cryptocurrency."
Despite the protracted crypto winter, crypto trademark filings have been flowing steadily for some time, as noted by trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis on Twitter, including by Viking Cruises, and cosmetics retailer Ulta last week.
To be sure, trademark filings are often defensive legal actions, and don't guarantee that the covered products and services will actually be developed and sold. But they do demonstrate that a company recognizes a potential future market and wants to be prepared to enter it.
In October alone, Web3 and NFT filings have emerged from brands as diverse as musical instrument maker Fender, food giants Del Monte and Kraft (regarding its iconic Wienermobile), burger chain Inn-N-Out, snack maker Takis, wine and spirits company Moët Hennessy, auto racing firm Formula One, online betting platform DraftKings, and singer Lizzo.
NFTs and digital goods and collectibles appear to be the hottest category among potential areas of interest for American businesses. So far this year, more than 6,300 U.S. trademark applications have been filed for NFTs and related items, Kondoudis reported, compared to only 2,100 applications in all of 2021.
For the broader digital currency and cryptocurrency space, 2022 has seen over 4,300 U.S. trademark applications, compared to 3,500 in 2021.