Linden Lab has been granted another trademark on their hand-and-eye logo. This time for a credit card. Specifically, trademark registration 3378449 covers "Online financial services, namely, offering a fictional-dollar-denominated credit card to charge online purchases".
Of course, 'fictional-dollar-denominated' would mean Second Life Linden Dollars (L$). Exactly what sort of card this might be is uncertain. You may recall that in 2006, MindArk released an ATM card for Project Entropia (now called Entropia Universe) allowing access to Project Entropia Dollars (PED) and supported by the Versatel cash-card network.
There's no indication whether Linden Lab is (or was) planning a physical card, or some sort of non-physical card, how it would be backed or where it might be honored.
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Could the mark have been filed in a purely defensive capacity? It is certainly possible but it is hardly likely. The other registrations on the logo have enough coverage that it would be unnecessary and wasteful to file this. We're not entirely ruling out poor legal advice, or simply muddy strategy, however we're not quite ready to call the Lab foolish.
While the actual filing fees aren't terribly steep, Intellectual Property lawyers for the preparation process trend towards the awfully expensive -- the application was processed through Howrey LLP. This is the hand-and-eye mark that Linden Lab already uses and they have significant protection for it already.
So, we have to assume, in the absence of poor advice or unfocused silliness, that the Lab likely didn't just file the mark on a whim -- that they expect (or had expected) to make use it for the listed purpose. Whether that project is something in progress, upcoming or presently dead remains to be seen.
In the meantime, we'll pop this on our list of things to watch out for.