June 21st, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
Trademark 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.
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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