Grossman Tucker Perreault & Pfleger, PLLC, a law firm with an exclusive focus on intellectual property matters, announced today that Jennifer L. Fessler, Esq., an associate at the firm, has successfully prosecuted the first federal trademark application for a Second Life® (SL) avatar.
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." One Second Life businessperson, Alyssa LaRoche, uses her avatar, named Aimee Weber, to provide quality, custom-built structures and items within Second Life. The Aimee Weber avatar has become identifiable with the virtual world content services provided by LaRoche.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) 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 PTO 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.