Trademark infringement and counterfeiting in the Second Life® virtual world and other virtual worlds threaten to erode the rights of brand owners.
Ben Duranske wrote in his “Virtually Blind” blog that “Rampant Trademark Infringement in Second Life Costs Millions.” He identified numerous instances of counterfeit goods for sale in a myriad of stores in Second Life using marks such as NIKE, ROLEX, CHANEL, GUCCI, PRADA, RAY BAN, and FERRARI. His rough calculation back then was that 1.4 million infringing transactions took place on Second Life, yielding around $2 million in revenue. In his 2008 book, Virtual Law, which may be updated in 2012, Mr. Duranske raised his estimate for infringing revenue to roughly $3.5 million per year.
This amount is small today, in comparison with the huge market for retail goods, but it is growing. Even if the pursuit of damages for lost revenue may not motivate trademark owners, as it might in the physical world, the potential loss of the value of a mark should compel brand owners to act. Trademark owners have a duty to “police” their marks by monitoring the use of their marks and pursuing infringers to protect their rights. Owners who sleep on their rights may lose them.
Accordingly, if brand owners fail to police their marks in virtual worlds, they may be denied the ability to stop infringers in virtual worlds, and in the physical world as well. Since trademarks are worth billions to companies, and are the crown jewels of the company, synonymous with their good will and reputations, brand owners ignore virtual worlds at their peril.
We offer the following trademark enforcement services to help trademark owners preserve their rights in the Second Life® virtual world and other virtual worlds and multiuser online games:
- Trademark clearance
- Trademark applications
- Cease and desist letters to infringers
- Trademark monitoring services in virtual worlds and multiuser online games
- Investigations of trademark infringement and counterfeiting
- Litigation to enforce trademark rights
- Defending claims of infringement in cease and desist letters and lawsuits
The firm’s lawyers have deep expertise in intellectual property litigation, including trademark, service mark, and trade dress infringement.
Attorney Stephen Wu’s presentation on trademark infringement before the SL Bar Association is posted here.
If you are interested in following the trademark suit by Richard Minsky (SL’s “ArtWorld Market”) against Linden Research, the materials from the suit are on our Minsky v. Linden page here.
This website is designed for general information only. The website does not comprise legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.