At the apex of current intellectual property crossroads exists The Vision of Infinite Dimensions – or, THE VOID™. Self-characterized as a world leader “in a new form of immersive entertainment,” but critically-acclaimed enough to back it up, THE VOID takes consumers from watching movies and playing games, to “liv[ing] in them.” A cross-collaboration of patented technology, heavily trademarked brands and gear, and copyrighted content from a conglomerate of corporate powerhouses, THE VOID promises to be the next great evolution of live entertainment technology.
What THE VOID brings to entertainment intellectual property is a visionary application of the current market domineers of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). AR, which has claimed mainstream fame through Pokémon GO and heads-up displays on car windshields, is the overlay of digital information onto the real world, applied in a variety of ways. VR, which has gained market prominence through devices like the Oculus Rift and Samsung VR, focuses on immersion in an artificially-generated environment closed off from the real world. MR, marketed mostly by MagicLeap and Microsoft’s HoloLens, is a combination of the two that anchors virtual objects to the real world, generating a more tangible connection between digital and genuine. Each of these technologies incorporates some sort of hardware (such as an opaque or transparent head-mounted display) and software (what generates the content) to make their products and services work for consumers.
THE VOID takes these intellectual properties a few steps further by molding and combining them to create what has been branded as HYPR REALITY™. In their own words, “Hyper-Reality” is “a combination of physical sets, real-time interactive effects, and virtual reality . . . utilized to create powerful . . . experiences that meld digital and physical worlds together.” While traipsing through a stage enveloped with digital information, users experience “sensory and emotional immersion” with the help of the RAPTURE™ hardware. The gear includes items such as a head-set, a haptic feedback vest, and a multifunctional gun, all protected by various levels of intellectual property. This heavily-branded proprietary technology is the foundation for limitless franchise and licensing opportunities that legal practitioners can soon find themselves facilitating.
THE VOID’s first experience open to the public is its “Ghostbusters: Dimension” installation, prominently placed in Times Square at Madame Tussads New York. Launched just before the premiere of the 2016 summer reboot of the “Ghostbusters” movie franchise, customers strap on the heavily-protected Rapture gear, step into the stage, and find themselves mounted with their very own proton gun ready to hunt ghosts.
THE VOID collective (a group of at least six “key partners”) collaborated with Sony Pictures, Ghost Corps (a Columbia Pictures subsidiary dedicated to expanding the Ghostbusters brand), and others to bring this immersive interaction to life. Where these intellectual properties collide, success seems to sprout, as the installation has already grossed nearly $1 million in ticket sales.
In attempts to live up to its name and reach its ‘infinite’ benchmark, THE VOID is expanding its proprietary reach with both original content and expanded access to increase the availability of its dimensions.
For instance, Forbes contributor Steven Rosenbaum experienced an ancient temple immersion, complete with “stone-lined pathways” and “flaming torch in . . . hand.” Other reviewers foreshadow content such as dinosaur jungle rampages or Egyptian pyramid treasure hunts. Works such as this will require multiple levels of copyright protection, from the lines of code generating the content to the overall work itself, and everything in between.
As for expansion along the physical plane, THE VOID has already gone international, recently opening a temporary “Ghostbusters: Dimension” installation in Dubai. This makes way for international intellectual property specialists to get involved as more proprietary info becomes increasingly globalized. In 2017 alone, the company plans to open an additional twenty Void Experience Centers (trademark also pending) to provide their hyper-reality experiences. Opening these new platform locations may provide a new, invigorated revenue stream for dying real-world establishments like malls and movie theaters, while providing brands with yet another medium to expand their franchises.
Legal practitioners who dare to enter this new “hyper-reality” will undoubtedly have their hands full with work focused on every stage of the intellectual property life-cycle as mainstream society begins to embrace THE VOID and others like it. These new brands and technologies will need skilled attorneys, both domestic and international, to secure the proper intellectual property protection from the outset. Practitioners will be needed to help guide these companies through joint ventures and licensing opportunities as the industry’s reach continues to expand. And of course, when the litigation floodgates open as they are wont to do in new and profitable industries, intellectual property lawyers will be needed there too. Whether battling patent infringement, trademark dilution, or illicit copying, it is easy to see how prevalent intellectual property disputes will be with so much synergy of different proprietary information pooled from multiple companies.
As more enterprises begin to follow THE VOID/“Ghostbusters” collaborative business model, the number of dimensions possible truly does seem infinite. It is only a matter of time before more franchises attempt to capitalize on the next evolution of interactive entertainment. So, while hunting ghosts through a New York City apartment sounds incredibly enticing to this Contributor, I eagerly await my opportunity to don Iron Man’s suit or Batman’s cape as I deliver justice to a virtual world of villains. Perhaps I’ll even be fortunate enough to help craft the agreement that makes that experience possible.