The number of metaverse-related trademark applications in China has reached 16,000, according to a local media report, as the frenzy over what some consider the next iteration of the internet continues despite government warnings over “market hype”. That figure – reported on Monday by Shanghai-based Thepaper.cn , citing data from the National Intellectual Property Administration – is nearly double the number recorded two months ago, when the country had a total of 8,534 metaverse-related trademark applications, according to business and trademark registration tracking firm Tianyancha. Tencent, NetEase are front runners in global metaverse race, CS says Despite the rising number of trademark applications tied to the metaverse concept – or yuanyuzhou in Mandarin – the government agency has so far approved few applications. Authorities have also warned against “abuse” of the trademark application process, vowing to reject “malicious” registration of trademarks aimed at hyping up the concept rather than for actual use. The agency’s message is the latest sign that Beijing is committed to clamping down on metaverse speculation. On Monday, the China Mobile Communications Association on Metaverse Consensus Circle – a new state-backed association comprising more than a hundred companies – issued a guideline, stating that the industry needs to prevent market speculation and bubbles. “Illegal financial activities, such as fabricating fake metaverse investment projects and issuing metaverse virtual currencies, should be resisted,” said the statement, which was posted on the group’s official website. Metaverse, a term coined by American writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash , commonly refers to a lifelike, immersive virtual world where people can meet, work and play online using devices such as virtual reality headsets and augmented reality gadgets. Advocates consider the metaverse the next iteration of the internet, and Chinese tech companies have been scrambling to register metaverse trademarks as a first step to dabble in the concept. E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding filed 31 metaverse trademark applications last September through its Singapore subsidiary, including some tied to the company’s name and business units, such as Alibaba Cloud, Taobao and DingTalk. Alibaba is the parent of the South China Morning Post . TikTok owner ByteDance applied to register six trademarks last October, while video gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings has submitted 99 metaverse-related applications since September, according to business registration tracking platform Qichacha. Chinese authorities have rejected a number of trademark applications in recent months, including those from China’s second largest video gaming company NetEase, Baidu-owned streaming video provider iQiyi, and social e-commerce platform operator Xiaohongshu, according to data from Tianyancha. The agency wanted to prevent trademark squatting and misunderstanding by consumers, an agency staff said last month. CEO says NetEase is poised to lead the metaverse race As of Tuesday, 163 denied applications were going through a second review as part of the appeals process, according to Tianyancha. Six of them, rejected in December, were filed by iQiyi. The appeals process usually takes six to eight months, the agency staff said.