November 24th, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
I recently ran across a story about a dustup over alleged misuse of the “Miss Universe” trademark in Second Life (via Twisted and Tawdry). Cutting through the drama (and there’s plenty, if your drama levels are low) the story appears to be that “The Trump Organization” — as in Donald — is enforcing its “Miss Universe” trademark in Second Life, and Second Life’s provider, Linden Lab, is assisting with enforcement.
While mainstream organizations have taken steps to enforce trademarks in Second Life before, in this case, the recipient of the enforcement action apparently made the note received from Linden Lab public. Here’s the purported text of that notice:
Subject: Re: Notification of Trademark Infringement Received by Linden Lab
We’re writing to let you know about changes made to your profile in Second Life. Miss Universe L.P, LLLP — the owner of the Miss Universe trademark — has complained about use of the Miss Universe trademark in the Second Life environment.
Linden Lab respects the rights of both Second Life residents and trademark owners. Accordingly, Linden Lab has removed uses of “Miss Universe” and “Miss SL Universe” from your Second Life profile. Please do not continue to use “Miss Universe” or “Miss SL Universe” in the Second Life environment.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Assuming this is all accurate, it sheds some light the procedures and steps a trademark holder might wish to request that Linden Lab take in similar situations. Notably, the communication only refers to alteration to profile text, and not removal of in-world items. Verbiage in profiles is the low-hanging fruit of trademark enforcement in virtual worlds, of course, so I wonder if The Miss Universe Organization targeted only the profile text, or if Linden Lab limited their enforcement to that area. In any case, it’s interesting to see an example of what Linden Lab will currently do when contacted by mainstream brands (or their attorneys) claiming trademark infringement.
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