The popular SLprofiles.com already switched their name to ProfileSLive.com after an internal voting for new names. Other, undoubtely, will follow shortly — or face takedown notices from the nice lawyers of our beloved company that runs “our world”.
As Second Life® becomes much more “the platform” and not “the community of users using a virtual world”, I slowly start to agree with the suggestion of changing the name of the “community of users”. After all, Netscape, with far more users than Second Life®, changed the name to “Mozilla” in its newer incarnation as an open source product, and the best known browser using the Mozilla Foundation’s rendering engine is “Firefox” — although the engine is called “Gecko”, something nobody remembers. Apple’s Safari, a port of the Linux-originated Konqueror browser, is just Apple’s brand name of something plainly called “WebKit”, another name that says nothing…
In my mind, then, Linden Lab can be running their virtual world platform on the “Second Life Grid®” and we’ll use the “Second Life®” client to connect to it, but, well, nothing stops us from calling Our Virtual World something else entirely. I’ve suggested InterGrid.
How hard would it be to change the community’s name?
I think it would be quite hard. My estimates of the number of “concerned residents” — people that regularly read blogs, e-zines, forums, newsletters etc. about Second Life® — is about 100-200,000 users, not much more. The remaining million “active users” aren’t even aware of the trademark guidelines, they don’t read blogs. And the remaining 12 or 13 million “registered users” don’t even bother to log in regularly enough to know what’s going on. So perhaps only 1-2% of all residents get worried about the trademark issues — if at all. If they never used “SL” or “Second Life” in their products, services, workshops, seminars, business presentations, or anything they actively do in SL, they’re safe enough from the greedy claws of LL’s lawyers. And this means they can easily ignore what’s going on. They can still enjoy The Virtual World That Cannot Be Named™ without fear. And they’re the vast majority anyway.
So is the battle lost? Well… not quite. I’d say that the resolution is, for now, postponed. We’ll have to understand how aggressive Linden lab and their lawyers are going to be. Pushing for just a few cases and going to court to establish their trademark claim might be more than enough, there is no need for an all-out attack against the whole community. But… with the latest anti-community trends of Linden Lab® (see the SL5B issue), what can we reasonably expect from them?…
I guess that Tao Takashi‘s and my idea of a “Second Life Foundation” to preserve the names and trademarks on behalf of both Linden Lab and the community of users will hardly be acceptable to LL’ lawyers.
This time I just have questions, but no answers 🙂