Taser Sues Second Life For Having Virtual Tasers

from the no,-seriously dept

Stun gun maker Taser is notoriously overprotective of its brand, even pushing judges and medical examiners never to list a Taser as a cause of death. However, this latest, as pointed out by Dave Title has the company going “virtual.” Taser is suing Second Life because of virtual Tasers found in the game. Specifically, Taser seems upset that these virtual stun guns are being sold next to pornographic material, which (the company claims) will harm its brand. I’d argue that going around suing everyone probably does a lot more harm.

Of course, Second Life parent corp. Linden Lab doesn’t actually make or sell these things, but just provides the platform — so you might think that the company is protected by safe harbors. Except… one of the little loopholes in safe harbor rules is on trademark claims, which mostly aren’t covered by either the DMCA’s safe harbors or the CDA’s. However, it should be covered by common sense (which is not so common, unfortunately).

If the virtual Tasers actually do infringe on Taser’s trademark, then it seems that the liable party should be the user who made/sold them in the first place — not Linden Lab, the platform creator. On top of that, there’s the big question of whether or not this is actually trademark infringement at all. You could make an argument that users might believe that virtual Tasers were somehow endorsed by the company itself, but do such products really “harm” the Taser brand? Again, it seems a lot more harm is being done to the brand by silly lawsuits. And, yes, people will point out (they always do!), that the company has an obligation to protect its marks, but there are better ways to do so than suing.

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Companies: linden lab, taser

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Comments on “Taser Sues Second Life For Having Virtual Tasers”

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33 Comments
inc says:

Re: Isn't it Generic?

…but Xerox and Kleenex are not generic terms but brands as well. This is why Taser, just as Xerox, Kleenex and band-aid, protect their trademark. You can’t let the brand become a generic term and risk losing the trademark. Now they would have been better off trying to leverage the online version for real world advertising or just ask politely to not use the brand name and just use a generic term rather then being a douche bag about it.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Isn't it Generic?

Yes, and having everyone going around using YOUR product’s name when discussing an entire class of product would be so bad…..uh…how?

If you simply made the better product, and that product name is what everyone knows, you’ll do just fine. Yes, there might be the odd rip-off artist, but they become out’ed for what they are soon enough.

Keep your product good, your value high, and having everyone walking around using your product name even when buying cheapo generic brands, won’t hurt you in the long run.

Do you know how much effort all the other companies had to spend trying to get people to say “photocopy” instead of “xerox”. How much fun do you think the sales folks at Cannon, Sharpe, etc. had going into a sales call only to be announced as “the guys are here to talk about xerox machines”.

LOL says:

Linden Lab actually is earing ALOT of $ from the “TASER” brand and trademark, what this article does nto mention is that Linden Lab, earns a % of every US$ (US DOLLAR) converted into $L (Linden Dollars) and Vise Versa. As well thier E-commerce website also named in the suit http://www.xstreetsl.com earns a % of every virtual “TASER” sold.

Unlike the recent case against the pirate bay, Linden Lab not only provides the means to sell stolen and copywritten items on thier servers, Linden Lab Directly profits from the sales.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unlike the recent case against the pirate bay, Linden Lab not only provides the means to sell stolen and copywritten items on thier servers, Linden Lab Directly profits from the sales.

Good. More power to them.

What is your problem with that? Are you going to sell fewer portable-electrocution-machines because someone sells a virtual model of them in a virtual world? Seriously?

I think you have bigger problems in First Life.

Cap'n Jack (profile) says:

What the…

How is this even a problem? I didn’t even know there was a company called Taser! I thought all taser-like products were tasers – I thought that was just the name for any device of that kind, like a gun is a handheld rifle that shoots pieces of metal at high speeds. I didn’t know taser is to handheld shock devices as Kleenex is to tissues.

This could never cause confusion to anyone. This definitely wouldn’t hurt brand in any way. How utterly silly.

Sigmund Leominster (user link) says:

Why not sue the right person?

Taser International have every right to protect the trade name of “Taser(TM)” just as Linden Lab have every right to protect the brand name “Second Life(R).” But why sue Linden Lab? If the alleged “taser” is called a “Taser,” then TI should be sending a “cease and desist” to the creator of the infringing product, not LL. But if the alleged “taser” is called something along the lines of “an electronic stun gun,” then that’s pretty generic! In fact, TI took the name “taser” from a novel written in 1911 (“Tom Swift and his Electronic Rifle”) where the notion of the electronic stun gun was outlines.

The extent to which a provider can use the DCMA Safe Haven may be open to discussion (most commentators call it “a mess”) but if TI is serious, it should first file a DCMA complaint to Linden Lab to allow them to act by trying to removing the infringing content. Suing should happen if this doesn’t happen, not as a “first step.”

What this really sounds like is a crude attempt at making a quick buck. TI sue LL because (a) they can’t be bothered to find the actual infringer and (b) LL have more money – unless the infringer is making a fortune selling “electronic stun guns”!

Until we get a look at the actual claims, it’s hard to guess where this may go.

Tgeigs says:

Dumb dumb dumb

Arguing that a corporation has to act to PROTECT against their trademarked name becoming a generic term makes no sense whatsoever. If everyone thought all stun guns were called tasers, instead of Taser, what do you think they are going to type into google? “Taser” maybe? And whose website do you think is going to pop up first?

For that matter, how absolutely THRILLED do you think Google is that everytime a lay person says he’s going to do an internet search, they say “I’m going to google it”? They’re THRILLED (I used to work in an advertising capacity and saw a presentation by a Google rep outlining this fact).

Or how EVERYONE calls soda “coke”. Is it any wonder that these same companies seem to often be the leaders in their market? Some of them need to talk to their branding people, shut the fuck up, and enjoy the free name recognition help.

Betsy Sue says:

TASER sues Linden Lab

All you ignorant people out there who think TASER International, Inc. was wasting their time and money to sue Linden Lab need to EAT CROW. It is a known fact that when Linden Lab received the Complaint, that very day they surrendered and settled out of court with TASER International, Inc.! They knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on.
So There!!!!!!

Stupid people.

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