In the beginning there was nothing… or very little. From barter, man never stopped innovating in his own way to commerce, almost as if it were second nature… Agriculture and breeding, maritime explorations in search of new products, development of land transport and the sea as in the sky. Trade gradually crossed borders, cities, villages, roads and hazards to be met directly at home, camped in front of a computer, tablet or smartphone. Who nowadays has never shopped online? Since For several years now, the stars have aligned in favor of marketplaces, these giants of digital commerce through which almost everything is bought…
Widespread, the law has worked to make space for digital commerce in favor of consumers, but also to ensure competition and market stability. The legislator has
in addition, it alerted to forms of disloyalty, compliance problems and framed delivery and retraction deadlines. The Ministry of Economy hastened to denounce the
deviations from dropshippinga recent and still legal practice of digital commerce.
However, despite this rapid, day-to-day adaptation, it seems that digital commerce is evolving significantly and differently. Initially focused on
consumption of tangible products or services, digital commerce is gradually sliding into the sale of virtual products and services… through other worlds…
The Metaverse: Towards a Digital Commerce Transformation
What if the Steven Spielberg movie Ready player one, launched in 2018, turned out to be a prophetic image of the market of tomorrow? Virtual worlds connected to the internet, where everything can be bought
through virtual currencies and bonds? Where everyone would have the opportunity to live the life of their dreams through their avatar? If reality still doesn’t overcome 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
Goal in view 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
emerging practices… From buying virtual apartments, clothes and artwork…
The metaverse it is mainly based on an immersive experience made possible by 3D technologies, immersing the consumer in a virtual world. as surprising as that
it may seem, the user’s avatar can buy products that are designed virtually and that do not necessarily exist in reality. Recently, Nike has invested massively in the
virtual mode selling their range of shoes: CryptoKicks whose prices can reach over 10,000 dollars… Others have the ambition to make the metaverse a
vector for acquiring virtual real estate through sales, incorporation, rental management, in the same model as standard real estate agencies.
Virtual reality headsets, tablets, controllers, there are many products sold physically that aim to optimize the metaverse experience. A top-notch experience
definition that gives users a greater degree of confidence in the quality of the products they buy. With virtual stores and hardware, the digital commerce of
metaverse will no longer be subject to the constraints of opening hours, meeting delivery deadlines, compliance issues, recruiting vendors, etc. If the system seems too
beautiful to be true, it is in any case virtual and all the more beneficial as it allows testing the popularity of a product without manufacturing it, at the same time as it offers the consumer a
The first NFT experience
The strong enthusiasm felt by the metaverse today it is mainly due to the success of the NFT’s that lay the foundations for the new electronic commerce. started in
art market with the resounding success of the “Bored Ape Yacht Club” collection, whose images are sold at exorbitant prices, the NFTs gradually opened up to other
sectors… Cinema took advantage of this moment to invest in the NFT market with a first film entirely financed in this way and directed by a certain director named Martin
Scorsese… As you may have understood, the NFTs benefited in their childhood from powerful broadcasters, stars, entrepreneurs and influencers. They are even a symbol of belonging
social, a closed and exclusive club that brings together a community of individuals who own the same family of NFT’s.
The first experience of the commercial metaverse, the enthusiasm around NFTs only made the big companies arm themselves to conquer a new world.
Amazon has begun equipping itself with metaverse technology while eBay plans to launch its NFT sales platform. Avant-garde and visionary, the fashion sector has no
escaped this dynamic to assume this new form of creativity. NFT’s fashion products, games and works diversify the arsenal designed by Gucci, Louis Vuitton, or even
Balenciaga in partnership with renowned designers…
Even though the glory harvest may suffer setbacks such as the recent crash of NFTs with the bursting of the cryptocurrency speculative bubble, the fact is that the
mechanism fascinates and will continue to improve. NFTs have proved to the world that digital commerce is undergoing profound changes across the metaverse. Most
than a simple investment, it has become a gateway to a new way of consuming, conquering most of the business of the 21st century.
A legal world to rebuild?
Changes in digital commerce are not entirely cloudless and bring their share of questions. If digital, consumer and competition rights
occupy a ready place when it comes to classic marketplaces, certain sprains and hesitations must be raised in the metaverse. On the one hand, it seems difficult to imagine the future of the metaverse without decisive action by GAFAM raising the issue of competitive asymmetry. On the consumer side, some are advocating a legal extension of their
personality and legal protection in the metaverse, while the more conservative ones propose a distinction of regimes.
Intellectual property law also seems to be affected by these developments, with the uncertain legal qualification of NFTs having something to do with this. Being “legal aliens”, swinging
between title deed and simple virtual currency-like token, the shares linked to them are uncertain. The relationship between counterfeiting and NFT’s has been, in particular, the subject of
several disputes in the United States. The New York Court notably ruled in favor of Hermès on the skewed reproduction in a digital work of his iconic handbags
in the work Meta Birkin.
Rome was not built in a day, it will surely take a few years before the metaverse takes root in practice and digital commerce takes on a new lease of life.
dimension. The rules of the game will certainly be defined by the practice and evolution of this new form of business and the mentalities that surround it. Some regret the
the disintermediation of exchanges and the disconnection of morality at the expense of a new way of consuming, which will change in depth. Nevertheless, this phenomenon is
already on our doorstep… it’s not about the future… but about the now!
Tribune written by Raphaël A. Hérimian, corporate lawyer
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