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.