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The Tech Affecting Licensing image

The Tech Affecting Licensing

The licensing industry focused on technology in 2023, incorporating artificial intelligence into consumer products programs and finding new ways to approach NFTs. As the industry makes plans for 2024, we’re taking a look back at some of the most significant tech stories from the past 12 months.

The Issue with AI
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in entertainment may have been a sticking point for the joint strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) this year, but many in the licensing industry are already looking for ways to incorporate the technology into their business practices. For example, chatbots can be used to streamline customer service offerings and data processing applications powered by AI can cut down processing time for large amounts of data.

When it comes to brand licensing, specifically, AI has emerged as a major area of focus for intellectual property infringement. A number of lawsuits were filed in 2023, particularly when it comes to generative AI, which involves models that identify patterns in existing data to create new content. For example, Getty Images sued Stability AI in the U.S. and the U.K., arguing the platform copied millions of its photos without permission or compensation. Moving forward, contracts will be under the microscope as more companies work to narrowly define the quickly evolving technology.

What’s Next for NFTs?
The height of the NFT craze saw brands rush to jump on the bandwagon and stake new trademark claims. The bubble popped, however, and the average price of token sales dropped 92% between 2022 and 2023 (declining from $3,984 to just $293). Now, the licensing industry is experimenting with different formats to breathe new life into NFTs. The majority of deals being inked are focused on positioning NFTs as a marketing tool, launching them in partnership with a physical product to increase value, or bowing NFTs as part of a limited-time offer that features less risk for all parties involved.

The Fight Against Counterfeiting
According to the 2023 State of The Fake report from Entrupy, approximately $2.8 trillion worth of counterfeit products are confiscated each year around the world. The licensing industry has sought out a number of new technologies and strategies as part of its ongoing battle against counterfeit goods. This includes Amazon’s launch of the Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange, a platform that allows participants to share information about confirmed counterfeiters.

Additionally, a number of brand owners are filing Schedule A (Lanham Act) IP complaints against online merchants of counterfeit goods. These complaints start with a motion for a temporary restraining order, which is typically filed under a seal that means defendants are not initially publicly identified or served with a complaint to avoid alerting them. This means they are prevented from moving assets or further evading the law, according to IP attorneys.

A Blast from the Past
The nostalgia trend was especially strong in consumer electronics this year. For example, records and cassettes made a comeback thanks to artists like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Billie Eilish releasing music in multiple analog formats. Those sales were enabled by companies like Retrospekt and Innovative Technology, which owns the Victrola brand, increasing their focus on nostalgic products like turntables.

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