The American Bar Association has published an article titled "From Gamers to the Runway: Brand Protection for Digital Fashion" in their online journal Landslide. The journal is published within the association's Section of Intellectual Property Law. The March-April 2022 issue of Landslide is dedicated to the theme "Protecting Fashion with IP."
The article begins by exploring the particulars of IP protection for tangible fashion design and digital fashion design. There is also a section on utility patents and design patents, which are concerned respectively with functionality and aesthetics. In conclusion, the article contemplates ownership in light of NFTs and blockchain systems.
Among the more intriguing assertions made in the article is that the licensor of the 3D software used to create digital fashion pieces is actually the owner of the IP for the digital garments. This would seem to indicate that brands need to be particularly aware of the relationships they are forming when working with creatives outside of the company. It is also interesting to note that video game companies own the IP to garments that appear in their games, because they own or are the license holders to the software used to make the game.
Kerry Murphy, founder and CEO of leading digital fashion house The Fabricant, is quoted in a Forbes article from 2020 stating that his company owns everything that it creates. The Fabricant has been involved on a number of high profile brand partnerships, and so they make an ideal case study. In general the article offers a favorable outlook for brands hoping to control their IP in the metaverse. The closing sentence urges brands to "embrace the future and participate in the digital fashion revolution."