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US trademark filing hints at Arizona State University planning classes in the metaverse


One of the largest public universities in the United States by enrollment may be planning to launch virtual classes in the metaverse in the future. 

According to records submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, on June 7 and June 8, the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University filed seven applications for variations of its name — ASU, Arizona State, Arizona State University — as well as that of its football team, the Sun Devils, to be used in a virtual environment. The trademark filings included the university’s name as well as the Sun Devils’ pitchfork symbol and logo for use in “virtual environments in which users can interact for recreational, leisure or entertainment purposes” as well as for educational purposes.

For its Fall 2021 semester, ASU reported 77,881 students were enrolled at physical campuses in the U.S. states, while 57,848 people attended through ‘digital immersion’. It’s unclear whether the university’s potential move into the metaverse may have been prompted by having more than 42% of its enrolled students in online classes. ASU senior director of strategic learner and program mobilization Casey Evans said digital immersion coursework was the schools “best tool to enable students to continue learning during this time of physical separation,” likely referring to the ongoing pandemic.

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The trademark filings also suggested ASU could be exploring the use of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, to authenticate many documents from diplomas to tickets for university events. ASU has previously adopted blockchain technology for various uses within the university, including tracking the spread of the COVID-19 infection in November 2020 and sharing data from the academic records of its students in 2019.

Other universities have made similar initiatives to ‘go meta’ in 2022. Cointelegraph reported in May the University of Sao Paulo plans to conduct research on the effectiveness of virtual and augmented reality devices, as well as how their use could affect human behavior.