Trademark protection gone mad: Linden Lab takes aim at educators

sl-wikispacesI’ve had the pleasure of having a chat to Jokay Wollongong in RL on one occasion, and hope to again in the future. I was more than aware of her work in Second Life prior to that catch-up, but only then did I realise her passion for the work she does. Sure, it’s part of making a living but it’s also a lot more than that – she is fundamentally driven by seeing the outcomes virtual environments can provide in education. In that, she’s no different to hundreds of other educators in Second Life.

That’s primarily why I’m gobsmacked and somewhat angry at a move Linden Lab has made, as reported by Tateru Nino over at Massively. Essentially, Jokay’s use of the URL has come under attack by Linden Lab, who’ve asked Jokay to take it down because of the use of ‘sl’ in the URL. As Tateru Nino outlines:

Under the Lanham Act, which controls the registration, usage and control of trademarks in the United States of America, Wollongong’s usage appears to fall squarely under nominative fair use, and thus legally unable to be counted as dilution of Linden Lab’s trademark which finally saw registration on 22 September this year.

Aside from the questionable legalities, I just can’t get past the apparent futility of issuing a takedown notice for a wiki site devoted to showcasing some of Second Life’s main strengths.  Sure, I can understand protecting a trademark makes exceptions difficult, but this has the whiff of a scorched earth policy. To that end, I’ve contacted the ever-helpful Pete at Linden Lab to get his thoughts on four specific questions:

1. What was the impetus for Linden Lab tackling Jokay’s Wiki specifically?

2. Does Linden Lab see it’s in its interest to issue takedown notices to educators showcasing one of SL’s strengths (i.e. it’s power as en educational platform)?

3. How much confidence should educators have that further trademarks won’t be registered, leading to a further change of landscape that can’t be forseen?

4. How would Linden Lab respond to claims that actions like this provide further motivation for people to move to other grids or platforms outside of SL?

Linden Lab deserve full right of reply and they’ll certainly get it (Update 2: you can read their response here).  My guess is that the takedown was instigated by Linden Lab legal people without a lot of consultation with others. Time will tell. I also had a brief chat to Jokay in-world late this evening, and although insistent on keeping positive about things, she made one key point that sums up the senselessness of this decision:

I’ll also be working to consolidate and publish my research on other platforms and will seek to diversify the wiki.  In the end all of this only strengthens my desire to establish presence in a broader range of virtual worlds, and we’ll be working on that over the coming months.

Then again, expanding the outcomes derived from Second Life into other platforms can only be a good thing. Perhaps it’s been Linden Lab’s intention the whole time 😉

Update: Jokay has posted her thoughts in more detail on her blog

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

jokaydia-eurovision11. Second Life educator extraordinaire, Jokay Wollongong, is having a Eurovision party this coming Sunday.

2. Caleb Booker has an interesting article on funerals and virtual worlds. He links to a YouTube vid of an incident a few years back in World of Warcraft that I’d seen before, as a basis of showing how mindsets have changed about the death of avatars and their real world impacts. Well worth a read.

3. For those that missed last months Catalyst program on ABC TV about the use of virtual reality in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you can view it here. There’s also an extra 7-minute interview with a US Marine whose PTSD treatment was benefitted by the use of virtual reality.

4. Human Resources and training virtual world NoviCraft has picked up Finland’s best e-learning product for 2009 and was the only game-based product entered.

Merged realities: events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Habbo Australia are hosting World Wrestling Entertainment®’s Batista™ (nicknamed “The Animal”) tomorrow at 4:00pm AEST (Monday 9th March). This is a free event and the venue will be the ‘Opera House’ public room.


2. Australian educator Jokay Wollongong held one of her regular ‘Unconferences’ today and there’s some great notes and links from it here.

3. I receieved the following info over the weekend:

Researchers from the Seoul Women’s University Information Media College UX Lab (user-experience laboratory) in Seoul, Korea, are currently conducting positive research connected to “Impressions from 3D cyberspace.” We would like to invite anyone who active in Second Life to participate in our research.

We’ve done with applicants to make film to conduct a survey previously, according to 3 regions, Korea south, Japan and North America.
Now we are collecting people’s respond to questions with those videos we made with applicants. For driving people to our survey site. We will provide L$100 for each and every participants.

Live Future 2020 event in Second Life this Sunday

Global Youth Futures are running an event this weekend called ‘Live Futures 2020:A World of Possiblity’.

It’s being held in Newtown, Sydney but there’s a stream being coordinated by Jokay Wollongong, with some interesting speakers confirmed (all times in AEST):

12pm – Welcome and Second Life orientation

12:30pm AEST – Dell Wolfensparger shares some his work and insights, followed by a tour of his island.

1:30pm – Topophilia – Love of Land: AAEE Gallery Exhibition, Islands of jokaydia. Birut Zemits and members of the Australian Association for Environmental Education will share their exhibition in Second Life, titled Topophilia – Love of Land

3:00pm AEST – Global Challenges and Sustainable Futures – Cocreation and Collaboration Session
Janine Cahill and her team will lead an inworld discussion and collaboration session – which will explore some of the issues presented at the real life conference. Help co-create the future!

4:30pm – Dr. Andrew Wallace PhD, Director of the Network of European Technocrats
Dr Wallace will give a presentation titled Technocracy: Building a New Sustainable Society for a Post Carbon World live in Second Life.

If you want to join in, here’s where to go.

Growth of Australian educators in Second Life continues

One of Second Life’s intrinsic strengths is its education community and the Australian contingent of educators is well and truly up there. Three new presences are on the horizon:

1. Jokay Wollongong’s two Jokaydia islands are developing well – expect a launch in the new year with an accompanying profile here on TMJ.


2. Right next to Jokaydia is an island called Riverina. It’s apparently going to be developed by Riverina TAFE – we’re hoping to catch up with someone from that project in the near future.


3. Finally, Koala Island is in development by Swinburne University of Technology. Again – we hope to get more details soon.


There’s quite a list of Australian tertiary education presences in Second Life now. Notice how nearly all of them are the ‘newer’ universities. The sandstone universities like the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney are conspicuous by their absence.

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