The Second Life of Intellectual Property

10 Pages Posted: 23 May 2009 Last revised: 5 Aug 2014

Date Written: June 7, 2009


Intellectual property holders have invested significant resources into Second Life in pursuit of customers and virtual market share. 15.8 million residents are available to hear your message. Within this virtual world, however, they have found age old intellectual property problems: counterfeiters with virtual Herman Miller furniture and Rolex watches.

Similarly, participants have become residents of Second Life for the opportunity to develop virtual intellectual property. Virtual art galleries, magazines, and bar associations have sprung up. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted registration to virtual trademarks created within Second Life.

Both real world and virtual world intellectual property holders have come to Linden Research’s Second Life on the premise that their intellectual property would be protected. Is it? How should the added exposure of a virtual intellectual property portfolio be managed by an intellectual property right holder?

Recently filed complaints indicate that Linden Lab’s “commercially reasonable efforts” may not be sufficient. In fact, they may be detrimental to the intellectual property owner. Here, I will discuss suits filed against Linden Lab regarding Second Life’s intellectual property protection. The complaints are illustrative of the peril in having intellectual property rights be privately adjudicated and enforced.

Keywords: Second Life, IP, intellectual property, virtual intellectual property, virtual infringement, infringement, business investment, Eros, SexGen, Taser, XStreetSL, Minsky, SLART, SL Art, SL, intellectual property portfolio

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Brendan James, The Second Life of Intellectual Property (June 7, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

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