Linden Lab further clarify trademark policy

We mentoned last week that Linden Lab had launched a brand centre designed to clarify what’s acceptable use of trademarks like the Second Life logo. The response since has been forceful and arguably negative in the majority as the reality of needing to change domain names becomes apparent for some business people.

Today, Linden Lab have further clarified their policy and there’s certainly so sign of them resiling from their initial stance. One aspect that interests me revolves around what is appropriate use of the term ‘SL’:

3. Can I use SL with my product, domain or organization name?

Yes, under our special license to use “SL.” You can use “SL” with your own trademark. So, if you own the “Dell” trademark, you could call your presence in the Second Life world “Dell SL.”Or, you can use two common nouns with “SL.” For instance, SL Ballet is not ok (only one common noun) but SL Ballet Troup works. And SL China Portal is not ok (”China” is a proper noun), but SL Chinese Residents Association works. You need at least two common nouns so others don’t think you’re an “official” Second Life organization or website.”

Is it just me or is this taking things a little too far? Take our own original domain name: creativeshed.com – if we were still running this site under that domain it’d need to be changed within 90 days. It seems farcical to me. Say there was a blog called Sleaze that covered virtual sex (there’s an idea!) – would this meet the guidelines? I’m not certain – Linden Lab have certainly provided clarification of some aspects but i don’t believe clarity is anywhere near achieved.

Australian Second Life resident Shai Khalifa makes a pertinent comment on the Linden blog announcement: “So transitioning a web domain name – does that mean LL will compensate those who have to fork out real money for registration of a new name – and paying web developers and graphic designers to re-do work?? This after-the-horse-has-bolted approach is going to have a detrimental effect on a number of active and useful sites I’m sure.”

The whole issue isn’t a show-stopper but it’s certainly going to cause some friction in part of the Second Life community. What are your thoughts – are Linden Lab cutting off their nose to spite their face?

Update: New World Notes are running a poll on the issue.

Comments

  1. DR Dahlgren says:

    I own two domains that use secondlife in them. I have no problem putting a disclaimer on the site that clearly states I am not affiliated with linden labs. However, I will continue to use them as I see fit.

    A good analogy is Harley Davidson. They are almost rabid in protecting their name, logos, etc. I can not use Harley Davidson in a domain name, that is their company name, but if I want to make a domain using sportster, one of their model names, I can. I can not name a motor cycle Sportster, but I could name a car that.

    I can not use LindenLabs in a domain name, that would clearly confuse people, but secondlife is not theirs in the way that they seem to believe it is. I can not name another world secondlife2 and get away with it, but if I write a blog called my secondlife, LL doesn’t stand a chance of making me remove it. It has to be clearly a situation where people could confuse whatever it is I have made for the product being protected. That simply would not be the case.

    If I name a domain carsinsecondlife, there is no way the courts would take it away, just as if I created a site called allaboutsportsters, Harley would not be able to stop me.

    If Limping Labs wants the two domains I own, they can pay me for them. I think 5 islands and free tier for year would about cover it.

    DRD

  2. There are a significant number of people and companies upset, maybe even livid about the way that Linden has handled all of this. While none of those people seem to be denying Linden Lab the right to protect their trademark, it’s the heavy-handed and blanket way in which they’re doing it that’s the problem.

    Plus, the inSL logo sucks, as I posted here:

    http://dusanwriter.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/my-

    But the issue isn’t, as DRD discusses, the legal standing of the new guidelines, its that Linden has also revised the Terms of Service. So, while they might now have a legal basis in a court of law to have you change mySecondLife.com, they have reserved the right to terminate your account with the service.

    Therefore, residents are not being asked to make decisions based on legal merit, they’re being asked to make decisions about promotion and use of the SL brand, which under normal market and legal conditions would have some clear precedent and guidance, based on whether they worry about Linden shutting their accounts down.

    How’s it strike you to have your in world assets and identity in the hands of someone who on the one hand is trying to legally cover themselves but on the other is further reserving the right to cover themselves through their TOS if they wake up cranky one day and decide that courts of law aren’t sufficient?

  3. There are a significant number of people and companies upset, maybe even livid about the way that Linden has handled all of this. While none of those people seem to be denying Linden Lab the right to protect their trademark, it’s the heavy-handed and blanket way in which they’re doing it that’s the problem.

    Plus, the inSL logo sucks, as I posted here:

    http://dusanwriter.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/my-new-business-cards/

    But the issue isn’t, as DRD discusses, the legal standing of the new guidelines, its that Linden has also revised the Terms of Service. So, while they might now have a legal basis in a court of law to have you change mySecondLife.com, they have reserved the right to terminate your account with the service.

    Therefore, residents are not being asked to make decisions based on legal merit, they’re being asked to make decisions about promotion and use of the SL brand, which under normal market and legal conditions would have some clear precedent and guidance, based on whether they worry about Linden shutting their accounts down.

    How’s it strike you to have your in world assets and identity in the hands of someone who on the one hand is trying to legally cover themselves but on the other is further reserving the right to cover themselves through their TOS if they wake up cranky one day and decide that courts of law aren’t sufficient?

Trackbacks

  1. […] may lead to not much at all in that Linden Lab may decide not to challenge. We’ve discussed the trademark issue previously and the situation isn’t getting any less vexed. We contact SLCN for comment but […]

  2. […] Linden Lab started their trademark clampdown – Linden Lab struggled to deal with periods of high user concurrency – An […]

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