Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Second Life (TM, (C), (R), Patent Pending)

Buried way in the back, is an interesting little diddy about Second Life Branding.

You also can't continue wantonly using "Second Life" or "Linden Lab" in your groups or blogs or anything if you read this all carefully.

First, what concerns me as a pseudo-journalist: How to use the Second Life (trademark copyright patent pending) name and logo properly in any blogs/articles I write. Fortunately, Linden Lab has thoughtfully provided a handy guideline so I know my legal bounds.

1)Approved Use. The Second Life Hand Logo may be used only by journalists or media outlets in a published article or blog entry specifically about the Second Life world. No other use is allowed without Linden Lab's written permission. Never use a Second Life Hand Logo (or any part or version of one):

-in any name or logo of a business, news program, or publication, including any website or blog;
-in a header or banner of a website or blog;
-in the title of an article, blog entry or news program;
without displaying the name and any logo of your business, news program, or publication in the signature position (usually the top of the material indicating clear ownership of the communication);
-in any manner that suggests co-branding or a relationship with Linden Lab; or
-in any manner that tarnishes the Second Life brand name or the Logo.

Well, the good news is that both my blog, domain, and any given 'business' I may belong to never use Second, Life, Second Life, and all recombinations of the letters in between. Or use the stupid hand logo. Yup, squeaky clean here. I'd sure as hell NEVER co-brand anything with Linden Lab, egads, I'm not that evil. Flattered, but no.

That last bit is interesting, because there are tons of sites that satire and mock SL and which use the SL hand logo in full and in part as part of the joke. It's funny because it will be as effective at preventing brand destruction as the flag burning amendment will be in preventing the burning of US flags (freedom of speech and all that lovely jazz).


-Do not make a Second Life Hand Logo a primary or prominent feature of your article, blog entry, or news program. The Logo must be smaller and subordinate to your own business name, logo, and any other branding.
-Always display the Logo right-side up with the words "Second Life" in a horizontal position.
-Never use more than one Second Life Hand Logo in an article, blog entry, or news program.
-Never use the Logo in text to represent the words "Second Life."

Common sense, all this, no? That last point (what is with these points on the end?) is kind of funny. Who in their right mind binds a key to a mini picture of the SL logo just to save a few seconds typing out "Second Life"? I'm not exactly a flash in the pan with regards to typing, but "Second Life" only takes me a cool three seconds to write out.

3) and 4) describe the boring ol' "this is the way our official logo should look".

5) gets into the gnarly details. I have already established that I'm in the clear because I don't use their logos. But it's interesting to read because the devil is into details and for those who have, it's a good idea to read up. For instance, LL retains the right to determine whether you are a press outlet or not. Obviously, for big ol' media, this is no problem because you'd have a fine time in court trying to prove that ABC is not a press outlet. But for little bloggers like me, starting a blog called "My Second Life" and garnish my site with a nifty SL hand logo then I'm at SL's mercy. If I publish an article that isn't too complimentary, then they could go around Rule #1 above and just say I'm not the press and shut me down. All the way to chinatown.

Then there's the always knee-slapping part about obtaining an official logo. Here is the way I'd get the logo for free. Step one would be to load the SL website. Step two is to hit a nifty button called "Prnt Scrn" on your keyboard. Step three is to open up Microsoft Paint, select the edit menu, and select "Paste". Crop the image out into the SL logo. Done. All without such stupid things like "permission" and "official".

There's so many rules. It's just the funniest thing I've ever read. It's taken me about a week to slog through it all, and the laughs just keep pouring in.

That first link lists unauthorized uses of LL's trademarks. Obviously, you can't steal it as your own. And you can't make merchandise such as coffee cups with their brands on it. The name can't be used in website domains. Some examples:

"This is NOT OK:"

Gee, there goes about every single home brewed personal blog about Second Life out there. Good thing I based my name around a running gag I used to pull.

You also can't use "Your world, Your imagination". I hope this is only intended for some kind of competitor, because I'd love to avoid having a take-down issued to me solely because I just used the tagline in this article. There's also a bunch of anal rules about the actual name itself, as in it must be in English fully spelled out. No "第二の人生" or "Second-life". Must be exactly "Second Life" if you refer to it in an article/blog. Guess the nail is screwed to me, then.

And don't think it's funny. No one is above the law, as LL specifically details each particular outlet's rules and responsibilities. Mine would be here.

So, finally, we should dig through and find out just what exactly is trademarked. That particular list can be found here. I can't use just Linden or L$, it must be either Linden™ or "dollar" (they helpfully suggest 'dollars' as a plural, just in case we thought they trademarked that too). It's Second Life® and Linden Lab® . Even SL is supposed to be SL™. Names for viewers are not exempt (WindLight® ).

I am not a lawyer, but there is something about trademarks. They must be enforced with zeal or else you lose them. Hence, we have things like "aspirin" (registered under Bayer but lost), "band-aids", and "Xeroxing a document". Adobe is currently attempting to do something similar to LL by asking users and web authors to not say "photoshopped" but to declare that a picture was "modified by Adobe® Photoshop® software". That is to say, I believe that unless Linden Lab wants to spend a significant amount of time fighting infringement cases, their trademark will probably be beaten and hung out to dry. Alas, what a fate.

I suppose I should wait for the LL lawyers to send me letters now. In the meantime, I'll be busy bashing LL in the name of Linden Lab®.

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