Brussels, 17th January 2024

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) welcomes the European Parliament’s adoption of IMCO and JURI’s own initiative reports on virtual worlds[1], the first of their kind. Whilst non-binding, FESI commends these reports’ contribution to shedding light on critical concerns surrounding the development of virtual worlds, particularly in highlighting the difficulties, needs and tools for protecting IP rights, and in paving the way for any future legislation on the topic.

“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”, stated Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General.

Experts believe that virtual worlds may reach their full potential within the next 10 to 15 years, accompanied by substantial risks and opportunities. Hence, it is imperative for the EU not only to adapt swiftly to impending changes but also to actively shape policies that will define the future of our digital landscape. Therefore, in addressing the legal issues posed by virtual worlds, as well as the challenges to the single market, the reports drafted by the European Parliament’s committees signal a major step in the right direction.

A number of FESI members are already active in virtual worlds as these have presented new opportunities for sporting brands to engage with their consumer base. In providing additional possibilities to purchase goods in the form of digital footwear and apparel, they have incited sport brands to engage in marketing new products. However, as noted, a lack of regulation and clarity in these markets presents important risks for those providing innovations to these novel marketplaces.

FESI is therefore happy to see the proactive efforts of the European Parliament in addressing issues of significant importance for the sporting goods sector such as the application of existing EU IP laws to virtual worlds, the distinction between AI-assisted creations versus AI-generated creations and recommending the creation of effective identity management systems.

Nevertheless, FESI notes the absence of certain issues it considers key for clarification in the current EU debate. These include tax classifications for digital goods, the similarity between digital and physical goods and services, and the distinction between the genuine use of goods in the real versus digital world. Moreover, FESI hopes to see more concrete actions being taken by the Commission in the upcoming political mandate by further clarifying the next steps in the process. This will be crucial not only for positioning the EU as a leader in international digital policy but also for providing much-needed legal certainty to EU businesses operating in the field.



About FESI: Founded in 1960 FESI, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, is the unique pre-competitive platform representing the interests of the sporting goods industry in Europe, advancing its members’ priorities and promoting initiatives that benefit the sector, EU citizens and the society as a whole. FESI represents the interests of approximately 1.800 sporting goods manufacturers (85% of the European market) through its National Sporting Goods Industry Federations and its directly affiliated member companies. 70-75% of FESI’s membership is made up of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. In total, the European Sporting Goods Industry employs over 700.000 EU citizens and has an annual turnover of some 81 billion euro.

Media contact: Ariane Gatti – FESI Communication & Policy Manager / [email protected] / +32 (0) 2 762 86 48