In the next ten years, the hardware, software, and content associated with virtual reality might very well qualify as “magic,’ under Arthur C. Clarke’s definition. Conservative estimates from Goldman Sachs suggest VR will be an $80 billion business by 2025, while a more aggressive forecast from IDC Worldwide puts the number at $162 billion by 2020. Either way, VR will be the largest media content format in history. The possibilities for not only new forms of entertainment, but communication, commerce, education, exploration, defense, medicine, and even worship are “virtually” limitless.
With this new frontier comes new challenges for the legal system, as it adapts to the needs of a computer-generated environment or augmented reality. Apart from innovations in systems, methods, processes, and devices for delivering the VR experience to consumers, which would be subject to traditional concepts of patent and trade secret law, copyright and trademark concerns arise within the artificial environment itself, as well as contract and procedural law principles. Here are two examples:
- One of the first court opinions related to VR is Bragg v. Linden Research, Inc., 487 F. Supp. 2d 593 (E.D. Pa. 2007), which analyzes questions of personal jurisdiction, following a dispute arising out of “real” and “personal” property ownership in the realm of “Second life.”
- More recently, Novalogic, Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, 41 F. Supp. 3d 885 (C.D. Cal. 2013) deals with the use of the registered mark “DELTA FORCE” in the context of the Activision’s “Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3” video game.
While these two anecdotes on the intersection of VR and the legal world are interesting, we still have yet to discern how courts will handle the growing complexity of issues surrounding data and content creation and ownership in the VR space. Companies like MandtVR, which produces a rapidly expanding number of original content VR programs will undoubtedly set the precedent for future purveyors in the VR industry for years to come.
For more information on the virtual reality revolution, consider attending EvoNexus’ event, Virtual Reality Beyond The Hype on October 20th.