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Cartier 'Himalia' in Second LifeTrademark infringement in virtual worlds is getting more lucrative. A Second Life Herald writer going by ‘Tenshi Vielle’ (herself a designer) reports that designer ‘Elexor Matador’ (doing business as “Elexor Matador Jewelry”) is selling twenty-five knockoff Cartier Himalia jewelery sets as limited editions for L$10,000 each (just under US $40). Proving that all press is good press, the sets are now advertised as having been “Featured in the Second Life Herald.” If the sets all sell, the designer stands to make a little under US $1000.

Real Cartier Himalia Necklace To put this in perspective, when VB covered widespread trademark abuse in Second Life last month, the most expensive single infringing item found was a virtual Ferrari selling for about US $7.75.

Prediction? This is just the tip of the iceberg; well-crafted limited-edition luxury goods selling at relatively high prices will become trendy accessories, and that will make it much more likely that a real-world company will take action to protect its trademarks in virtual worlds. Nothing will invite attention quite like an army of miniature Paris Hiltons flaunting knockoff jewelry that costs more than most games themselves do.

‘Elexor Matador’ appears to be trying to avoid treading on Cartier’s intellectual property, however unsuccessfully. For example, the set is not referred to as “Cartier” jewelry in in-store advertising — in marked contrast to the products featured in VB’s earlier article on trademark infringement in Second Life. However, the set is called the “Himalia,” which is a registered trademark of Cartier that is used on the real jewelry that this set appears to be based on. As such, there is little question the designer is infringing at least that Cartier-owned mark.

As is traditional when one designer accuses another of something in the SLH, there’s all sorts of associated drama. If you’re interested, the comments to the Herald piece are here, and ‘Elexor Matador’ has responded on his blog here.

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12 Responses to “Expensive Luxury Knockoffs in Second Life Raise Trademark Stakes”

  1. on 21 Jun 2007 at 11:38 amcsven

    I’ve been meaning to pay more attention to this, as it hits very close to home. The one thing I wanted to determine is how Elexor verifies that only 25 items were replicated. If I paid a lot of Lindens for something because it was “limited”, I’d want to know that the thing wasn’t all over the virtual world.

    Like you, I believe high-priced luxury goods will sell. But I also believe that scarcity will keep prices high instead of bottoming out. How to do this is something I worked on shortly after joining SL, but I don’t recall ever having seen a system put in place. Does this have one?

  2. on 21 Jun 2007 at 1:19 pmIota Ultsch

    If Cartier take action against Elexor Matador, I will NEVER buy another real-life piece from them again!

    If Real life companies are too stupid to work out that they are getting free press, or too conservative or lazy to hire in-world builders to fabricate their pieces and set up shop, then they should just get over it! And so should the talentless so called “designer” come journalist! BTW, I’d like to see Ms. Vile’s qualifications for either of these professions!

    Bringing Real World copyright law into SL is ridiculous!
    I didn’t see God jumping up and down like a fruit-cake when the Japanese created Bonsai, or the Lindens trees!


  3. on 21 Jun 2007 at 3:36 pmTenshi Vielle

    Thanks for the background, Benjamin. I’ll definitely be tuning in to your blog more often.

    As for God, we’re not talking about that here. We’re talking about game developers (yes, anyone who creates in second life is automatically a “game developer, content creator” in my book) ripping off real-life, trademarked (sometimes even copyright) items.

  4. [...] Firstly, the product name Himalia is a registered trademark of Cartier so this is a clearly a move to make profit. This raises issues explained expertly by Benjamin Duranske in this post on the Virtually Blind blog. Ben is a leading authority on the legal implications of virtual worlds. [...]

  5. on 22 Jun 2007 at 2:18 amlinks for 2007-06-22 » What Future?

    [...] Virtually Blind – Virtual Law | Legal Issues That Impact Virtual Worlds » Blog Archive » Expensive Luxury Knockoffs in Second Life Raise Trademark Stakes Luxury goods selling at relatively high prices will turn into a trend, and that will make it much more likely that a real world company will take action to protect its trademarks in world. (tags: secondlife virtualworld law trademark copyright ip capitalism) Evangelize:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  6. on 22 Jun 2007 at 12:14 pmBenjamin Duranske

    csven – I’m not sure. I expect that the pieces are numbered individually, but other than relying on the designer’s reputation and integrity, I don’t imagine there’s any real way to know that there are only twenty-five. Of course, that’s true in the real world for numbered prints and things like that too (and in the real world, the problem is all too often a source of legitimate concern among art collectors).

  7. on 24 Jun 2007 at 7:22 pmcsven

    Which then begs the question: if a designer is willing to use someone else’s brand reputation, then what does that say about theirs?

    And wrt numbered prints, that problem could be resolved. Make a nice Web 2.0 app, actually. Wonder if one’s already been done. Will have to look into that.

  8. on 25 Jun 2007 at 4:27 ammarie bacquere

    Dear Benjamin Duranske

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Marie-Noelle BACQUERE, I am a french student in IP law. I am doing a report about IP rights in virtual worlds. I would like to know if you have any information, documents or anything it could help me to do it well, to understand all the problematics…
    Thank you for your help

  9. on 27 Jun 2007 at 10:50 amMoss

    Why all fuss/press about Second Life anyway? If you purchase and wear this jewelry (good luck getting it to lay correctly on your avitar) and then acutally teleport anywhere, your carefully sized necklace stands a great chance of ending up sticking out of your eyesocket. If you don’t simple crash the program first. Who can do anything in this world but stand in their carefully cached rooms and change their clothing endlessly? Horrible interface. But I digress off topic…

  10. on 07 Jul 2007 at 7:12 amBenjamin Duranske

    Marie – Thanks for your comment. I don’t really have any documents beyond what I’ve referenced on the site that will help with your report, but if you look at all the articles tagged “Trademark” that should give you some ideas.

    Here’s a link:

  11. on 12 Sep 2008 at 5:21 amHarriet Jacob

    Trademarks are for one reason to protect the companies commercial income or status, by covering the invention/term they have protected.

    Regardless of whether the company is “too lazy” to focus on providing virtual goods, do we really believe this is sufficient excuse to breach other’s rights. Surely if this designer had any ethics they would have approached the company for trademark licence and if approved then paid out of the profits for such licence (unlikely to be financially feasible I am sure in this particular case).

    With reference to Ms. Ultsch’s “Bringing Real World copyright law into SL is ridiculous!” I am at loss to see what is ridiculous about this. There are ways to handle it, e.g. the way Coca Cola do in terms of their logo but when an artist uses a trademark term with little regard for the law they show a complete lack of ethics. They are little different from the hawkers on street corners selling rip off designer bags or watches. Frankly, one would never want to be associated with that if they are building a business reputation.

    I think I would avoid Ms. Ultsch’s products as I couldn’t be confident she isn’t ripping off designs based on her stance. Poor form.

  12. [...] and Milan……..yeah sure they are Iota ;). There’s also an interesting little post here, by Iota regarding her views on SL and RL [...]

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