Metaverse 3D Replicas Spark Open Questions Over IP Protections
Intellectual Property litigation attorney Jacob Schneider was interviewed for a Bloomberg Law article about the metaverse and the rights attached to digital goods. With virtual reality gaming and other metaverse applications going mainstream, digital goods modeled after their real-life counterparts take on new significance, and lawyers and courts must grapple with how to apply intellectual property law to fast-moving technology. Mr. Schneider commented on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's ruling against The Play Pen, a Los Angeles strip club that objected to the use of similarly styled signage in the landscape of the game "Grand Theft Auto." Decided in 2008, the case exemplified generally favorable rulings regarding artistic expressions that seek to mimic a real-world environment in works like video games.
"They want to make the city in the game look and feel like Los Angeles, and part of that is putting elements from Los Angeles into the game," he said. "The court said, 'Hey, this is a piece of art. This is an element of the creative work that's important.'"
However, Mr. Schneider added, the courts have not fully addressed designs in virtual spaces that users can manipulate and whether designs that include brand-specific elements are protected.
"Do we call that artistic, or is it just a functional space that you're in?" he asked. "I don't know. The courts haven't dealt with that yet."