Snoop Dogg has filed two trademark applications that pertain to digital retail stores and virtual cannabis NFTs.
The applications, made under his legal name Calvin Broadus, attempt to trademark the terms “Uncle Snoop” and “Uncle Snoop’s.” The wording seems to hint at a possible retail venture for the rapper, with the trademarks centering around, “Online retail store services featuring virtual goods.”
It won’t surprise you to see what’s at the top of Snoop’s list of digital shopping list: “virtual cannabis goods.” The trademark application goes on to include digital smoking paraphernalia for use in virtual environments, as well as audio files and virtual clothing. It cites non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a way to authenticate these digital goods.
While the trademark application is no guarantee of what Snoop is planning, these sorts of filings are good indicators, says trademark attorney Michael E. Kondoudis, who first flagged the news of Snoop’s application on Twitter. “By law you are making statements to the federal government in a federal legal matter, so you are making verified statements, under the penalty of perjury, when you say you have an intent to use a trademark for the products and services listed in the application,” says Kondoudis. “When Snoop filed a trademark application saying he was going to sell virtual products and virtual cannabis, especially under those trademarks, he made a sworn legal statement to the federal government that that’s what his intention was.”
“I would be surprised if Snoop Dogg didn’t already have a plan in place to provide this product and service,” Kondoudis continues. “Usually in our experience what we find is people file trademark applications after the plans have already started being formed and in motion — not when they get this idea. Because it does cost money, it does take some time and it is a federal legal matter. So when you have an attorney file it there has to be some kind of concrete plan to go from where they are today to selling the products and service in the metaverse.”
Over the past year, Snoop has become the most mainstream celebrity proponent of NFTs and metaverse technology. After buying Death Row Records, in February he said he planned to make it “an NFT label” and the first major record company to operate in the metaverse. He also — seemingly as a proof of concept — sold NFTs worth tens of millions of dollars tied to his album B.O.D.R. (Bacc On Death Row). In April, he also partnered with metaverse platform Sandbox to create the “Snoopverse,” a virtual game world where you can purchase land and party with Snoop in exclusive metaverse events. But he’s not alone. Artists like The Weeknd, 3LAU, Madonna and Doja Cat have all made forays into the world of Web3 as well.
As for what Snoop’s virtual cannabis might actually be like, Kondoudis likens it to dressing an avatar in Nike shoes. “It’s something to buy both for the novelty of it and perhaps as something you might be able to buy, sell or exchange for other digital products in the metaverse,” he says. “Because, of course, you’re not going to get high off virtual cannabis.” Still, even for virtual appearances only, there’s a lot of potential in this market. Gamers spent about $50 billion worldwide on in-game items like “skins” that change a character’s appearance in 2020, according to MIDiA Research — more than the entire music business took in. And that number is only expected to grow as the metaverse takes off in the next several years.
“The reasons these artists are filing these applications are the same reasons that all the businesses have rushed to file these applications: The metaverse is just a few years away, businesses are trying to figure out how to transition into the metaverse, how to monetize their efforts in the metaverse and to make sure their brands are protected as they make that transition they’re filing these kinds of trademark applications,” says Kondoudis. “And quite honestly we expect the number of filings from recording artists, music labels and the entertainment industry to continue.”
The “Uncle Snoop’s” trademark application also hints at a real-life retail presence — something other brands like McDonalds have done as well, with plans to sell both actual products and virtual products in a physical store location (or physical goods from a virtual store delivered to your house). Under “goods and services,” Snoop’s application includes clothing, apparel, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and cannabis products. Soon enough, Uncle Snoop’s stores might be coming to a city — and a metaverse — near you.