Jennifer L. Fessler, an associate at the intellectual property law frim Grossman Tucker Perreault & Pfleger, PLLC, was recently successful in obtaining a trademark for a client for a Second Life® (SL) avatar. The US Trademark Registration 77110299, which received approval on November 11, 2008, relates to the Aimee Weber avatar that has become identifable with the virtual world content services provided by Alyssa LaRoche. Also granted on the same day was US Trademark Registration 77110295, which covers a logo incorporating the Aimee Weber name.
Second Life is an Internet-based, 3-D community within which members interact, converse and transact business through a virtual representation or persona of the user known as an “avatar.” Alyssa LaRoche, uses her Aimee Weber avatar as a trademark to represent quality, custom-built structures and items within Second Life.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) groundbreaking decision to accept the Aimee Weber avatar for federal trademark registration is important for two reasons: first, this decision affirmatively answers the question of whether someone who develops a trademark used only to identify virtual services generates enforceable trademark rights in the real world. Second, it indicates that the USPTO identifies use of a trademark in Second Life as use in commerce that is regulated by Congress.
This landmark decision may pave the way for future trademark owners seeking federal protection for their avatars and other brand identifiers created and used in virtual worlds. It also suggests a real world trademark owner can successfully plead a case of trademark infringement against a Second Life user’s use of a confusingly similar mark in Second Life.