While these reports are non-binding, FESI praised the European Parliament’s proactive efforts in addressing key issues for the sporting goods sector, including the application of existing EU IP laws to virtual worlds, the distinction between AI-assisted and AI-generated creations, and the recommendation for effective identity management systems.

Recognising the need for the EU to adapt swiftly and shape policies to define the digital future, FESI underscores the importance of addressing legal issues and challenges to the single market posed by virtual worlds. The reports drafted by the European Parliament’s committees are seen as a crucial step in the right direction.

However, FESI points out certain absent issues in the current EU debate that it considers crucial for clarification. These include:

  • Tax classifications for digital goods,
  • The similarity between digital and physical goods and services,
  • The distinction between the genuine use of goods in the real versus digital world.

FESI expressed the hope for more concrete actions in the upcoming political mandate, emphasising the importance of further clarification for positioning the EU as a leader in international digital policy and providing legal certainty to EU businesses operating in the field.

Experts anticipate that virtual worlds may realise their full potential within the next 10 to 15 years, accompanied by significant risks and opportunities.

Several FESI members are already active in virtual worlds, seizing new opportunities to engage with consumers. These virtual platforms allow sporting brands to market and sell digital footwear and apparel.

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However, the lack of regulation and clarity in these markets poses significant risks for those providing innovations to these “novel marketplaces.”

In a statement, Jérôme Pero, FESI secretary general, touched on the importance of the EU parliament’s approach and said: “Virtual worlds are marked by an elusive, fast-paced, and ever-changing field, pivotal to the future of the sporting goods world in how we understand trade and markets.

“Its dual nature in being both of monumental importance and extremely difficult to ascertain marks the reasons for which FESI is delighted to see the European parliament’s forward-thinking approach that hopefully sets us on the path towards a resilient digital Europe.”

Today’s (22 January) Week in Review discussed how the fashion sector is increasingly taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence’s benefits, and how with any emerging technology its potential risks are slowly being brought to light.