In the past decade, innovation in digital technology has made it possible for humans to have interactions beyond the realm of physical reality and get immersed in ‘virtual reality’ or even experience a state called ‘mixed reality’. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies hold the key to transform the way we see the world and communicate, but it also would open the door to a myriad of legal questions and concerns. The inability of the law to keep up with technology will deter it from maximising utility and profitability. An example that is often cited in this discussion is that of AR-powered Google Glass, which was welcomed with much enthusiasm in 2013, however it failed to meet the expectations of its developers due to its unappealing design and the range of privacy and piracy concerns that eventually outweighed the benefits of such technology.
This article briefly examines the law on Intellectual Property (IP) to address two primary questions. Firstly, whether the protection under the current regime can accommodate IP created in the virtual world and secondly, whether real-world IP proprietors have any legal recourse for infringement of their IP in the virtual world. While VR creates a reality differentiable from the physical world, AR merely augments the physical reality permitting the user to interact with both virtual and real-world objects. Thus, due to their varying interactions with the real-world entities, the two technologies raise varying IP concerns.