​A mural of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in the Arts District.
Photo by Decerry Donato

Kobe Bryant’s Legacy Will Live On—In the Metaverse

NBA fans may be able to see the late Kobe Bryant again one day—in the metaverse.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend’s estate filed three trademark applications—for “Kobe Bryant,” “Mamba Forever” and “Mambacita” (in reference to Bryant’s late daughter Gianna)—with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 28, according to Business Insider. The trademarks cover “virtual and digital interactive representations” of both Bryant and his daughter “for use in virtual experiences and the metaverse,” as well as “virtual and digital goods” including art, avatars, games, trading cards and NFTs.

It’s been more than two years since Bryant, his daughter and seven other people died in a January 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, stunning the Southern California region and the wider world. Last month, a bronze statue of Kobe and Gianna Bryant was unveiled at the crash site in the memory of the Lakers legend and his daughter, a youth basketball player in her own right.

Since the accident, Bryant’s estate—led by his widow Vanessa— has trademarked footwear, apparel and wine under Kobe Inc., a brand development firm Bryant created in 2013 to control his business interests. Those interests may soon extend to the metaverse, with the much-hyped virtual realm emerging as a platform through which brands and businesses can expand their reach.

“There’s been this avalanche of trademark filings from different companies and celebrities to protect their rights as it pertains to things in the metaverse,” Washington-based trademark lawyer Josh Gerben told Bloomberg.

In December, brand management firm Authentic Brands filed trademark applications on behalf of Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s old Lakers teammate and frenemy, that cover Shaq’s name and likeness in the metaverse.

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