April 20, 2009
By Erik Larson, Bloomberg
April 20 (Bloomberg) -- Taser International Inc. filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against the Second Life online virtual world creator over claims it sells unauthorized virtual versions of its electric stun guns.
Taser, the world’s biggest maker of stun guns, claims San Francisco-based Linden Research Inc. is damaging the company’s reputation and hurting its sales by allowing virtual weapons to be sold online under the Taser brand name, according to a 102- page complaint filed April 17 in federal court in Phoenix.
Linden and third-party companies such as Virtualtrade LLC, which also was sued, are “selling virtual weaponry in a fully fledged copy of plaintiff’s real ones for use in the Second Life computer simulation,” Taser, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said in the complaint.
In the virtual world, participants create alter egos known as avatars that use real money to buy property, open businesses, dance at clubs, engage in combat or have sex. Companies including International Business Machines Corp. and Xerox Inc. have established presences in Second Life.
The complaint also names Linden founder and Chairman Philip Rosedale, as well as its chief executive officer, Mark Kingdon, and chief financial officer, John Zdanowski. Linden was founded in 1999 and has more than 250 employees.
Taser says the alleged infringement is especially harmful because the online stores include pornographic content.
“All of the defendants that sell virtual weaponry like plaintiff’s real ones, under the mark Taser for use in the Second Life programs and grids, also sell adult-only explicit images and scenes” and drugs, according to the complaint.
A call to Linden wasn’t immediately returned.
The case is Taser International Inc. v. Linden Research Inc., 2:09-cv-00811, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Monday, April 20, 2009
April 20, 2009