Trademark Guidelines: Grace Period Finishes Today

WorryingSo you’re still using things like Second Life Herald or Sweet Second Life? Well, take care. Linden Lab’s “grace period” finishes today, as Tateru Nino kindly reminds us on her article on Massively.

The popular already switched their name to 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 🙂

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  • Thanks for reminding us as well 🙂

    I agree that the name of the community cannot be changed that easily and a foundation also won’t happen as Linden Lab does not live up to the vision they once created.

    But the reason for this policy change, to better control the message won’t work for LL either. The message is not controlled by a company, it’s controlled by the users and in consequence by Google. If they really start taking down sites then the message will be “Linden Lab sues their fans”.

    True not everybody will read blogs but it will be in Google and this is then controlled by that minority. This was what made SL big. I don’t want to say that this group can also bring SL down but it will create negative buzz and will more likely advertise alternatives.

    Will Linden Lab change because of that? Nope. It seems to be the company philosophy now to leave those progressive tracks and become a more traditional company (maybe due to investors who don’t get this space).

    But it’s not the end either. I believe that most people in the end want freedom and choice. How much LL will be part of this depends on how much they want to do things _with_ the community instead of against it.

    All in all though it’s rather disappointing seeing all this.

    Happy Birthday..

  • Yeah, I’m just boycotting SL®(reg)(tm)(c)©’s birthday. I agree totally about them abusing their fan base, a very dangerous trend as far as company viability goes. Had Enough(tm)®(c)!1

  • I had three flag designs entered for the Residents Flag. I don’t think we have 100,000 concerned residents, not by a long shot. And I think a lot of non-English residents are in for a big surprise as they really haven’t the slightest notion about Lab policies.

  • And by the way Gwyn, you are not following the guidelines. As a European, it’s enough to add “Second Life, SL and Linden Lab are trademarks of Linden Research, Inc.” at the end of your blog. The whole TM thing is not for us.

  • A new name for the community could be possible, but it should be picked with domain-availability in mind. Your suggestion InterGrid is nice, but is already taken – So is,,,… 🙁

    Maybe a common 3rd-level-domain would do e.g. or

    Like or www.

  • Vikarti Anatra

    There is one interesting thing.
    In one of recent issues of Metaverse messenger it was said that it’s possible to get .sl(Sierra Lione in fact, same as .tv is in fact Tuvalu but still) for rather good prices. It will become interesting if I for example register .sl ,will i get takedown notice?

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