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  Reporting Trademark Infringement in ‘Second Life’?  
Posted 2007-05-28 by Tony Walsh
This is an open call to my readers for information on reporting trademark infringement in Second Life. My (potentially incorrect) recollection is that it was once possible to specifically report trademark infringement through the in-world Abuse Report system, but when I tried this last night, "Trademark" was not listed as a reportable offense. Following the attempt to report in-world, I searched through the official Second Life site, and couldn't find any information on how to report trademark infringement.

The short story is that I can't figure out how to report trademark infringement (it didn't seem so obscure before), and I'm left wondering if my memory is faulty or if the system has changed. If the reporting system has changed, my impression is that it has changed in the last 2 - 4 weeks. Any help, advice, or information from my readership would be appreciated, thanks.
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Comment posted by Osprey
May 28, 2007 @ 3:21 pm
You can report in in the "other" category.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 28, 2007 @ 5:02 pm
Thanks, Osprey. Has it always been "other" or was there actually a trademark category before? I have used the Abuse Report system for trademarks before but am hazy about how I did it. I dimly recall some sort of Linden messaging about using Abuse Reports for trademark infringements, but don't remember where I read it.
Comment posted by Osprey
May 28, 2007 @ 5:55 pm
You know, I just don't remember. The UI is very rich territory and things change all the time. I'll ask around, though.
Comment posted by Cienna
May 29, 2007 @ 11:10 am
I don't remember ever seeing 'trademark infringement' as a category, just "Take off that Apple shirt, Ms. Rand!"
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 29, 2007 @ 12:28 pm
Eloise comments at Virtually Blind: "you could try an abuse report under the 'other' category..." Seems to be a consensus on that so far. At this point, I think it's possible but unlikely that there was ever a "trademark" category. Memory can be a funny thing...
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
May 30, 2007 @ 3:00 pm
Tony, it didn't just change after 2-4 weeks, not at all. I use this template constantly in my rentals business, and I have to say that the Lindens constantly monkey with it, changing its texts, its cues, its questions over and over.

Currently it has nothing about trademark; it did at one time, but that was ages ago, and it didn't last long. It has not been a perennial feature throughout each iteration of the template.

The Lindens themselves used to pre-emptively fly around and remove trademark violations more. They'd literally warn you about a coke machine or delete a Bud case before your eyes. Those days are gone. They've stopped.

When I assiduously reported the trademark infringement involved in Alex Potato's outrageous sign extortion plan (he put the textures of all major RL businesses up on numerous 16 m2 parcels throughout the world, implying that he had contracts with IBM, Sony, etc. showing their ads, but they were merely his own screenshots of their SL parcel builds), I got absolutely ZERO Linden response. Not formally, not informally. Alex set the plots to outrageous prices to try to get people to "buy back the view" -- one of the known scam techniques in SL.

I also notified all those IBM Sonys, etc. etc. and only two responded: Reuters, who sent a query about it, and said they would ask to have it removed (they didn't abuse report it, or start some legal action, they merely contemplated having it removed) and IBM, which said they'd also investigate it.

I sent them pictures and urged them to take action. I found it outrageous that an ad company would not only extort view buy-backs from hapless neighbours whose land was devalued, but would imply they had the cooperation of these new companies in SL.

I found the attitude of these new companies very, very VERY laid back and CAUTIOUS. They didn't jump. They said they'd look into it. I guess one or two did, because Alex's signs then changed, removing those obviously he'd heard from; leaving those he didn't (telling, that). In the end, he was left with inworld businesses that didn't have the resources to fight back).

And this is what that entire episode taught me: it's not like you think, Tony, and your zeal on behalf of corporations is not appreciated (which you loathe anyway, so I fail to see why you are stumping for them).

Why? Because they don't care. Coca Cola even announced to the community (you may have missed this) that they were NOT going to crack down on the trademark infringement implied by gadzillion coke machines all over SL. Imagine THAT! They hand out their free stuff too, but ignore the fake stuff.

Why? Because they don't wish to alienate the new media gang who make content, including "mash-ups," including copyright infringed mash-ups. They also have another obvious problem in virtual worlds. How to market their brand! THEY can't get their logo around in this atomized world where 40 fit on a sim and there are 8000 of them. So THEY don't mind if *everybody else distributes the brand virally for them, even illegally*. Why? Because they lose nothing from even 6 million people having copies of a fake coke machine in a virtual world. They only gain brand recognition.

The people who spend time worrying about copying and takedown notices aren't Coke or Mattel, who hasn't even arrived yet to notice all the Barbies and Kens, but hard-working virtual seamstresses whose skins and dresses inworld are copied. But you never write about them, and like most tekkies, you shrug at Copybot and even snicker a bit of the futility of stopping the copying.

In short, big companies don't seem likely to start enforcing this trademark stuff. if there is some actual product they make that is actually knocked off inworld for substantial financial gains, as distinct from freebie copyable textures and objects like coke machines, well, they might behave differently. They didn't yet.

So...why are you getting huffy on their behalf and going around doing their work for them? Why not take up the cause of indigenous workers without means who can't mount DMCA takedown notices or affect behaviour by mere IMs?
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