American footwear and apparel powerhouse Nike appears primed to be the latest major oncomer to the arena of tokenization — that is if a patent the company has just received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is any indication.
The patent, first filed back in the spring and awarded by the USPTO on December 10th, is for a token system that would be built around Ethereum’s ERC721 token standard, which allows a smart contract to represent a non-fungible asset via a tradeable token on Ethereum.
These tokens, known more specifically as non-fungible tokens (NFT), are programmed to be irreversibly scarce and thus nonduplicatable, making them ideal for digital collectibles, gaming assets, and the like.
In the case of Nike’s patent, the outlined system would entail linking pairs of limited-edition CryptoKicks footwear, a line the company has envisioned to launch the aforementioned token meld, to unique owner IDs and virtual collectible NFTs representing digital versions of physical shoes.
The company’s filing also noted it could launch similar lines of apparel and beyond, for example “CryptoThreads,” “CryptoLids,” and “CryptoGear.”
Like CryptoKitties But With Shoes
It remains up to Nike whether to bring this token system into actual production.
But now the firm has the patent to do so if they choose, and with that patent now awarded the cryptocurrency ecosystem’s various stakeholders can start considering the outlined design of the CryptoKicks effort more closely.
Notably, Nike has envisioned the possibility of linking CryptoKicks shoes to virtual collectibles that track the unique traits, e.g. colors, of real limited-edition shoes — not unlike how CryptoKitties tokens track the traits of their associated digital pets.
This structuring opens up new kinds of commerce possibilities, which Nike foresaw and took note of in its patent filing:
“In some embodiments, an originally created CryptoKick may include cryptographic token data that is representative of attributes from a companion physical shoe […] After acquiring a CryptoKick, the owner may buy, sell, intermingle, collect, or trade CryptoKicks, e.g., using physical, fiat, and/or digital currency. In some examples, an entity may maintain a digital online marketplace that includes an inventory of CryptoKicks for sale and/or a marketplace that may broker transactions between individuals.”
Perhaps the most interesting word in the paragraph above is intermingle, insofar as it indicates that CryptoKicks tokens could be breeded and affect the later manufacturing of unique Nike apparel:
“[O]wners may be provided some indication of the genetic traits of their CryptoKicks to facilitate more deliberate Collab events. In an example, a user may desire a CryptoKick of a particular model in a certain exclusive color. That user may then search out a CryptoKick that has the genetic code for that color and attempt to Collab with them […] a CollaboKick that may receive a preset threshold number of upvotes may automatically trigger the manufacturer to produce the CollaboKick in real life.”
If Nike does bring this system to fruition, then Uniswap’s dynamically priced Unisocks won’t be DeFi’s only claim to apparel fame for long.
CryptoKicks in Video Games?
Nike’s newly awarded patent also outlined the possibility of marrying its CryptoKicks system with video games through potentially allowing the token’s virtual representation to be “imported” into compatible products.
“For example, if the user was active in a certain basketball video game, the CryptoKick could be imported to that game and worn by the user’s player or team,” the patent read.
Furthermore, the filing noted that CryptoKicks with rare traits could correspond with special skills in in compatible video games, like “a rare CryptoKick [imparting] better jumping ability or lateral quickness” to a user’s character. For Nike, the NFT possibilities seem wide open for now.