Taser International Sues Second Life

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Taser International Sues Second Life

image

Taser International has decided it wants to try life on the other end of a lawsuit for a change and has therefore sued Linden Lab, the creator of the online world Second Life, for trademark infringement resulting from the unauthorized sale of virtual stun guns.

Linden Lab is causing harm to Taser's reputation by "selling virtual weaponry in a fully fledged copy of plaintiff's real ones for use in the Second Life computer simulation," according to the complaint. The suit names Linden Lab as a defendant along with various current and former executives in the company as well as third-party companies Virtuatrade LLC and XStreet SL, and seeks damages in excess of $75,000. The infringement is especially harmful, Taser alleges, because the game's online stores that sell the virtual Tasers also deal in "pornographic content."

"All of the defendants that sell virtual weaponry like plaintiff's real ones, under the mark Taser for use in the Second Life programs and grids, also sell adult-only explicit images and scenes," the company said.

But New World Notes has questioned the basis of the lawsuit, claiming that XStreet SL has no items for sale under the Taser name. The closest device listed on the site is called an NLSD, for "non-lethal stun device," but the Taser name only comes up in disclaimer noting that the company is not affiliated with NLSD. However, a couple of BDSM sex toys for sale in the XStreet SL "Uncensored" area also mention the brand name, which may be what earned Taser's ire.

Taser designs and builds "less lethal" weapons for use in law enforcement and military environments, but as the use of its products have become increasingly widespread critics contend that police forces have become prone to using them unnecessarily and that the weapons have caused numerous deaths. Civilian ownership of Taser weapons is prohibited in many countries, although in the U.S. they can be legally carried and used in most states. Taser also markets a line of weapons for use by private citizens.

Source: image, via Bloomberg

Permalink

...GAAAAAH!

This is just ridiculous, and kind of creepy. Why are Tasers being mentioned in a sex toy selling area to begin with?

Wait, no. Damnit, I thought of Rule 34, and thus, there is Taser porn. Everybody enjoy!

And the lawsuits get queerer by the day....

Ah yes, the mystery that is the internet, only the rules will help us understand, damn you 34!*shakes fist*

Don't they have anything better to do than file these lawsuits? We need to overhaul the intellectual property laws, it seems that if you mention intellectual property you can sue anyone for anything.

Every time Second Life appears in the news, its always something bad.

scotth266:
...GAAAAAH!

This is just ridiculous, and kind of creepy. Why are Tasers being mentioned in a sex toy selling area to begin with?

Wait, no. Damnit, I thought of Rule 34, and thus, there is Taser porn. Everybody enjoy!

Someone destroy that rule.
Furthermore....
Second life is VERY weird.

tasers in internet sex? Kinky. That said what the hell is the appeal behind second life, really anyone on it please explain to me what the hell is going on. Just the name its self "second life" for an avatar centered "world" based on the net i dont even need a smartass remark for that one.

Sewblon:
Don't they have anything better to do than file these lawsuits? We need to overhaul the intellectual property laws, it seems that if you mention intellectual property you can sue anyone for anything.

I have the IP on text in any form by the way. You can expect my lawyers shortly.

Indigo_Dingo:
Every time Second Life appears in the news, its always something bad.

I honestly haven't heard much about it in the news, though I'm not suprised to hear that previous hijinks have occurred.

Danzorz:
Someone destroy that rule.
Furthermore....
Second life is VERY weird.

What: you don't like Taser porn? Oh well, too bad for you then. As for how weird it is, I have a high tolerance for weirdness. How high on a 1-10 scale would you rate this (10 being tentacles EVERYWHERE)?

To be honest I think we should be worried about the "Less Lethal " weapons...

Ah, sounds like some smart legal counsel figured out a way to get some money out of Taser. Doesn't take much work to realize that Second Life doesn't claim ownership of the stuff you make, and that it forbids using other people's trademarks without permission.

So suing second life will, at best, get the users using the trademark booted.. until they get a new account.

Meanwhile, lawyers all around make money.

second life was really really weird

I felt like...I dunno, I never done LSD but maybe that was it right there hahaha

scotth266:

Sewblon:
Don't they have anything better to do than file these lawsuits? We need to overhaul the intellectual property laws, it seems that if you mention intellectual property you can sue anyone for anything.

I have the IP on text in any form by the way. You can expect my lawyers shortly.

Indigo_Dingo:
Every time Second Life appears in the news, its always something bad.

I honestly haven't heard much about it in the news, though I'm not suprised to hear that previous hijinks have occurred.

Danzorz:
Someone destroy that rule.
Furthermore....
Second life is VERY weird.

What: you don't like Taser porn? Oh well, too bad for you then. As for how weird it is, I have a high tolerance for weirdness. How high on a 1-10 scale would you rate this (10 being tentacles EVERYWHERE)?

I own the rights to all forms of verbal and non-verbal expression so I am counter-suing.

scotth266:

Sewblon:
Don't they have anything better to do than file these lawsuits? We need to overhaul the intellectual property laws, it seems that if you mention intellectual property you can sue anyone for anything.

I have the IP on text in any form by the way. You can expect my lawyers shortly.

Indigo_Dingo:
Every time Second Life appears in the news, its always something bad.

I honestly haven't heard much about it in the news, though I'm not suprised to hear that previous hijinks have occurred.

Danzorz:
Someone destroy that rule.
Furthermore....
Second life is VERY weird.

What: you don't like Taser porn? Oh well, too bad for you then. As for how weird it is, I have a high tolerance for weirdness. How high on a 1-10 scale would you rate this (10 being tentacles EVERYWHERE)?

My god, your....very............uhm.....Goodbye.... *Walks off* --->

In my own fantasy version of the world a completely lawful rebuttal to a lawsuit would be "yeah, fuck off mate"

"Hey boss! Did you see that people are selling virtual items in second life and making money doing it?"

"Nah, that'll never catch on..."

"But someone is already doing it with virtual items from our company!"

"Son of a.... WHY DIDN'T WE THINK OF THAT! Get our lawyers on the phone!"

Really? I wonder just how firm their trademark hold actually can be, given the history of the name:

Taser is an acronym, named for a fictional weapon: Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.[8][9] Taser is a registered tradename. It has prompted a backformed verb "to tase" which means "to use a Taser on", although "to taser" is also commonly used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taser#Name
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swift_and_His_Electric_Rifle

The source novel is long since in the public domain, having been published in 1911. I'm sure there's already a fair amount of case law related to the validity of trade marks/names based on third party sources, but any further exploration of that track would require someone with actual legal knowledge in the specialty.

Danzorz:

My god, your....very............uhm.....Goodbye.... *Walks off* --->

? You do realize I was messing with you right.

scotth266:
...GAAAAAH!

This is just ridiculous, and kind of creepy. Why are Tasers being mentioned in a sex toy selling area to begin with?

Wait, no. Damnit, I thought of Rule 34, and thus, there is Taser porn. Everybody enjoy!

xmetatr0nx:
tasers in internet sex? Kinky. That said what the hell is the appeal behind second life, really anyone on it please explain to me what the hell is going on. Just the name its self "second life" for an avatar centered "world" based on the net i dont even need a smartass remark for that one.

Okay. As a long-time member of both The Escapist and Second Life, I'm going to have to take up the voice of wisdom here.

1. Second Life

Second Life is a virtual world where the users can create all content: land, buildings, objects, avatars, avatar attachments, clothing and costume, interactive objects, interactive attachments (ranging from purely visual to world-altering) and more. The appeal is that of an online 3d chatroom combined with a collaborative development environment, 3d visualisation tool, video game, and general escape from reality. Yes, it's flooded with crap, just like the internet, and it current attracts more lunacy than stable people, but it has its functions, same as the World Wide Web. The key difference between SL and the WWW is that it only has one service provider: Linden Labs.

2. Linden Labs and XStreet SL

Linden Labs are a technology company that develops Second Life, hosts its servers and rents out servers for use as "islands" within the Second Life Grid. They recently acquired XStreet SL; a website, formerly owned by Residents of SL, that hosts product listings for inworld products, able to exchange inworld currency (L$) for inworld products. The site is more diverse than Amazon, selling virtual equivalents of clothing, housing, avatars, skins, textures, objects, furniture, just about anything that can make up a virtual world asset or collection of assets. With a single purchase you could redefine your look, land, property, and abilities.

3. Linden Dollar and Currency

The Linden Dollar (L$) is the inworld currency of Second Life. It has a fluctuating exchange rate of around L$270 to the US Dollar. It can be purchased with almost any prime currency, and can be converted back into prime currencies. Real people make real money selling virtual-world assets, land, and services, including skill-based gambling and virtual toys and weapons like this taser.

4. "What were tasers doing in a sex shop?!"

XStreet SL is all-inclusive; adult content is common. This includes pornography, realistic skins with genitalia, virtual replicas of copyrighted real-world designs, copyrighted content itself (paintings and illustrations), and as this case addresses, guns and weaponry based on their real-world counterparts. Obviously, this is a violation of copyright law.

5. So Linden Labs are to blame then?

Not quite. USERS/Residents are the creators of content, not Linden Labs. XStreet SL merely re-lists products produced by users; any resident may list their own work on Xstreet for any price (including free, as distribution is negligible cost). The correct response to finding your copyrighted work in SL is to file a DMCA request with XStreet SL (which they will comply with, being hosted in the USA) on the product listing; secondly, to file a DMCA request with the author of the given work and Linden Labs. The author may voluntarily delete their own assets (the work in question), or, depending on the specifics, have the item deleted by Linden Labs via the global inventory server.

TL;DR: Amazon also sells Anime tentacle porn alongside Tasers. That fact is irrelevant to the case. This is entirely a copyright/trademark case, where a user has created a 3d duplication of a Taser product, and sold it for in-world currency, which is exchangeable for real-world money. Linden Labs and their service for selling goods are being blamed for their user's violation.

BobisOnlyBob:

scotth266:
...GAAAAAH!

This is just ridiculous, and kind of creepy. Why are Tasers being mentioned in a sex toy selling area to begin with?

Wait, no. Damnit, I thought of Rule 34, and thus, there is Taser porn. Everybody enjoy!

xmetatr0nx:
tasers in internet sex? Kinky. That said what the hell is the appeal behind second life, really anyone on it please explain to me what the hell is going on. Just the name its self "second life" for an avatar centered "world" based on the net i dont even need a smartass remark for that one.

Okay. As a long-time member of both The Escapist and Second Life, I'm going to have to take up the voice of wisdom here.

1. Second Life

Second Life is a virtual world where the users can create all content: land, buildings, objects, avatars, avatar attachments, clothing and costume, interactive objects, interactive attachments (ranging from purely visual to world-altering) and more. The appeal is that of an online 3d chatroom combined with a collaborative development environment, 3d visualisation tool, video game, and general escape from reality. Yes, it's flooded with crap, just like the internet, and it current attracts more lunacy than stable people, but it has its functions, same as the World Wide Web. The key difference between SL and the WWW is that it only has one service provider: Linden Labs.

2. Linden Labs and XStreet SL

Linden Labs are a technology company that develops Second Life, hosts its servers and rents out servers for use as "islands" within the Second Life Grid. They recently acquired XStreet SL; a website, formerly owned by Residents of SL, that hosts product listings for inworld products, able to exchange inworld currency (L$) for inworld products. The site is more diverse than Amazon, selling virtual equivalents of clothing, housing, avatars, skins, textures, objects, furniture, just about anything that can make up a virtual world asset or collection of assets. With a single purchase you could redefine your look, land, property, and abilities.

3. Linden Dollar and Currency

The Linden Dollar (L$) is the inworld currency of Second Life. It has a fluctuating exchange rate of around L$270 to the US Dollar. It can be purchased with almost any prime currency, and can be converted back into prime currencies. Real people make real money selling virtual-world assets, land, and services, including skill-based gambling and virtual toys and weapons like this taser.

4. "What were tasers doing in a sex shop?!"

XStreet SL is all-inclusive; adult content is common. This includes pornography, realistic skins with genitalia, virtual replicas of copyrighted real-world designs, copyrighted content itself (paintings and illustrations), and as this case addresses, guns and weaponry based on their real-world counterparts. Obviously, this is a violation of copyright law.

5. So Linden Labs are to blame then?

Not quite. USERS/Residents are the creators of content, not Linden Labs. XStreet SL merely re-lists products produced by users; any resident may list their own work on Xstreet for any price (including free, as distribution is negligible cost). The correct response to finding your copyrighted work in SL is to file a DMCA request with XStreet SL (which they will comply with, being hosted in the USA) on the product listing; secondly, to file a DMCA request with the author of the given work and Linden Labs. The author may voluntarily delete their own assets (the work in question), or, depending on the specifics, have the item deleted by Linden Labs via the global inventory server.

TL;DR: Amazon also sells Anime tentacle porn alongside Tasers. That fact is irrelevant to the case. This is entirely a copyright/trademark case, where a user has created a 3d duplication of a Taser product, and sold it for in-world currency, which is exchangeable for real-world money. Linden Labs and their service for selling goods are being blamed for their user's violation.

A resounding Ooooooh ok. Well thanks for explaining that. Sounds interesting, actually it sounds like the sims meets-craigslist-meets a dirty massage parlor. But what do i know

BlackKraken:
In my own fantasy version of the world a completely lawful rebuttal to a lawsuit would be "yeah, fuck off mate"

Take over a country and you can enact that. Just make sure to tell me so I can move there.

BobisOnlyBob:

...Linden Labs and their service for selling goods are being blamed for their user's violation.

it dosent matter in the end its there fault.

scotth266:

Danzorz:

My god, your....very............uhm.....Goodbye.... *Walks off* --->

? You do realize I was messing with you right.

....I hope.

Leorex:

BobisOnlyBob:

...Linden Labs and their service for selling goods are being blamed for their user's violation.

it dosent matter in the end its there fault.

Is Google responsible for copyrighted content being uploaded to YouTube?

If you honestly believe that, that's okay, that's a reasonable opinion to have, but the media companies shouldn't be suing Google over it either. They should be issuing DMCA Takedown Requests, and only progressing to lawsuit after that. I suspect this case will be resolved quickly, without damages awarded, and the offending product removed throughout both XStreet SL and the asset server of Second Life.

BobisOnlyBob:

Leorex:

BobisOnlyBob:

...Linden Labs and their service for selling goods are being blamed for their user's violation.

it dosent matter in the end its there fault.

Is Google responsible for copyrighted content being uploaded to YouTube?

If you honestly believe that, that's okay, that's a reasonable opinion to have, but the media companies shouldn't be suing Google over it either. They should be issuing DMCA Takedown Requests, and only progressing to lawsuit after that. I suspect this case will be resolved quickly, without damages awarded, and the offending product removed throughout both XStreet SL and the asset server of Second Life.

i agree, by the sound of it they have jumped into a law suit, with out asking for the removal of any offending meteral.

xmetatr0nx:
A resounding Ooooooh ok. Well thanks for explaining that. Sounds interesting, actually it sounds like the sims meets-craigslist-meets a dirty massage parlor. But what do i know

Hah! It is a little like that in places. People build houses and roleplay, and sometimes even meet fellow roleplayers and end up with their own game of "House" online where all the imaginary rooms and such are physically represented and interactive...

Others, like IBM, use it for high-priority international meetings with their staff, managers and programmers alike, and use the 3D tools to build diagrams, prototypes, or express complex slideshow-like elements without the need for a conventional projector or live video feed. The mix of text, video and audio inworld can be a mixed blessing; for them, it's a definite boon.

Yet more, like myself, use it as a social-learning platform: I write code, create small trinkets, make 3D maps and chat to likeminded people about Transhuman ideas and the future of the species.

Others are just there for the gambling, sex, and violence. Tringo and the Casinos used to flood the land, cut back recently; perverts abound in every corner of the Grid not marked "PG"; trolls, griefers and spammers round out the motley 3D web.

It's a messed-up Second Life.

BobisOnlyBob:
BIG SNIP

Well, at least that makes sense now. And I know that Amazon sells tentacle porn: for a short time it was in my recommended list for some odd reason. I think it was because I purchased a volume of Gantz. That's the only thing that I've bought off Amazon even close to tentacle porn.

My adventures with Amazon aside, at least things are a little clearer now thanks to you.

scotth266:

BobisOnlyBob:
BIG SNIP

Well, at least that makes sense now. And I know that Amazon sells tentacle porn: for a short time it was in my recommended list for some odd reason. I think it was because I purchased a volume of Gantz. That's the only thing that I've bought off Amazon even close to tentacle porn.

My adventures with Amazon aside, at least things are a little clearer now thanks to you.

Ew. I think it's because Gantz gets pretty damn heavy at times, and a lot of Japanese Adult Animation actually has the pretence of having a plot. They're almost invariably bad, but then you get a series like Elfen Lied - which for all its blood, nudity and violence is actually respectable in quality and story. Amazon gets them all confused, and lists them invariably with things associated.

The same "unintelligent listing" results in the problem Taser is claiming: listing product "Scary Weapon X" alongside "Adults Only Y" on the same site that hosts "Children's Book Z"... it's inevitable with massive sites like Amazon and XStreet SL, but inevitably the predatory lawyer invokes this "fact" in order to put the bias in their client's favour. Judging by the replies before my rant, it affects the unaware crowd just as much as the judge and the jury... it may be truth, but it's entirely out of context. Were I the defence, I would invoke the similarities with Amazon's practice to dismiss that claim out-of-hand. The copyright and trademark infringement, however, is a different issue...

BobisOnlyBob:
The copyright and trademark infringement, however, is a different issue...

Those are the claims I find most interesting.

As far as copyright goes, there isn't any. I mean, unless people are scanning in and posting Taser's service and operations manuals into Second Life, but I don't think anybody's doing that in this case.

Trademark, otoh, is quite interesting, and the thing that makes it interesting, is that Taser Intl's trademark is based on a word coined in anow public domain book.

Trademark law is designed to fight counterfeiting and consumer confusion. Taser Int'l has a 30 year history of using the term Taser to refer to electrical personal protection and law enforcement devices. They have a pretty solid trademark claim there.

If the SL creators are creating virtual electronic stunning devices that are visually similar, and have the some product names and model numbers as Taser Intl's products, and are using the name 'Taser,' then they're SOL.

However, that trademark certainly wouldn't extend to cover the use of the term TASER to identify a weapon in a hypothetical video game adaptation of the original source, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, or, Daring Adventures in Elephant Land.

Now the question becomes, where in between those two poles, deliberate virtual models of actual Taser Int'l products on the one hand, and a virtual model of the original TASER in the context of its source material on the other, do these virtual objects lie, and would a reasonable consumer actually consider that the virtual objects in question are being offered by, or are products of, Taser Int'l?

If I was a lawyer, I wouldn't touch this with a pole. A rubber pole, mind you. I mean, so it doesn't conduct electricity, not aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh--

bkd69:

BobisOnlyBob:
The copyright and trademark infringement, however, is a different issue...

Those are the claims I find most interesting.

As far as copyright goes, there isn't any. I mean, unless people are scanning in and posting Taser's service and operations manuals into Second Life, but I don't think anybody's doing that in this case.

Trademark, otoh, is quite interesting, and the thing that makes it interesting, is that Taser Intl's trademark is based on a word coined in anow public domain book.

Trademark law is designed to fight counterfeiting and consumer confusion. Taser Int'l has a 30 year history of using the term Taser to refer to electrical personal protection and law enforcement devices. They have a pretty solid trademark claim there.

If the SL creators are creating virtual electronic stunning devices that are visually similar, and have the some product names and model numbers as Taser Intl's products, and are using the name 'Taser,' then they're SOL.

However, that trademark certainly wouldn't extend to cover the use of the term TASER to identify a weapon in a hypothetical video game adaptation of the original source, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, or, Daring Adventures in Elephant Land.

Now the question becomes, where in between those two poles, deliberate virtual models of actual Taser Int'l products on the one hand, and a virtual model of the original TASER in the context of its source material on the other, do these virtual objects lie, and would a reasonable consumer actually consider that the virtual objects in question are being offered by, or are products of, Taser Int'l?

As far as I can tell - if the image The Escapist has provided is the accurate and exact item listing on SLX*, then the item in question is a mere "Prim** Replica" of the real-world design, with either hand-crafted replica textures, or photographic textures taken from real-world items. I doubt the court case will go to that level of excessive detail, but that's where the crux of the matter is.

If this product does not include the name TASER anywhere (and it appears not to, although this may not be the case) then this is a classic case of "AKA 47" and the content creator is most likely in the clear on that account. However, from that Wiki:

TVTropes: AKA 47:
Arguably, a trademark registration for the gun's shape would be used to stop someone else from manufacturing the product. Without actually using the name, in order to argue 'tarnishment' or some other claim regarding a trademark, the manufacturer would have to show in court that the shape of the weapon was well known by the public - or possibly with gun users - such that the use in the game in some way causes them injury to the goodwill associated with that mark. A potentially much higher legal standard with respect to a weapon's image over its name. There can also be (for games in the U.S.) First Amendment issues with respect to use of an image (or the name) for the purpose of exposition (describing a gun by its name or by an image of it.)

You see, Trademarks can protect shapes and symbols as well as words. I believe the shape of Mickey Mouse's head - the iconic "three linked circles" design - is a trademark under a large number of contexts. In this case, the Trademark in question may be violated by the design of his weapon and the accuracy. He IS copying the design, and he IS selling it, even if not in the same context. The trademark may not cover networked virtual environments, but it probably covers a broader context of "schematic or detailed digital representation" - which this may well fall afoul of. It depends on the level of detail, the texture's origins (photographic or handmade), their incorporation of any logos or TASER Int'l identification, and finally on the level and capability of the lawyers in question. This might very well be a messy case if it plays out to that length.

*XStreet SL was formerly called SL Exchange, or SLX for short. Their site's name, slexchange.com, caused a lot of giggling.

**Prim - short for Primitive - is the fundamental building block of all objects in Second Life.

Sigenrecht:
If I was a lawyer, I wouldn't touch this with a pole. A rubber pole, mind you. I mean, so it doesn't conduct electricity, not aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh--

I hear ya. Messy case indeed.

Danzorz:

scotth266:
...GAAAAAH!

This is just ridiculous, and kind of creepy. Why are Tasers being mentioned in a sex toy selling area to begin with?

Wait, no. Damnit, I thought of Rule 34, and thus, there is Taser porn. Everybody enjoy!

Someone destroy that rule.
Furthermore....
Second life is VERY weird.

Its not the game, its the people - people are wierd. Add to that a level of anonymity and a place where society can't judge, or barely judges, you get all sorts of wierd crap. *points at rule 34*

If this actually goes to court and they win then the entire of Second Life will grind to a halt. Virtually everything in there is in breach of someone's copyright.

Well at least its not a retardedly high amount, $75,000 is quite small considering that most Americans sue $20,000,000 for somthign as simple as hurt feelings. Its hard to tell from this article but i think second life is a stupid idea anyway and anyone trying to sue it is even stupider

A weird lawsuit for a weird game...

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