You may remember Richard Minsky, founder of The Center for Book Arts in New York City and owner of SLART Magazine. We previously wrote about his assertion of his rights and obligations with respect to his SLART trademark, which covers (among other things) Minsky's SLART magazine. The SL portion obviously represents Second Life, and the ART well... that's art.
Minsky originally filed his SLART trademark on 22 March, 2007. It was published for opposition on 18 September, 2007, and finally granted formal registration by the US Patent and Trademarks office on 18 March, 2008 (registration number 3399258). SLART, therefore, is owned by Minsky insofar as the US Government is concerned at the present time, whether that grant was conferred rightly or wrongly, unless it is somehow overturned or abandoned.
Now he has filed a civil suit in a federal court, naming Linden Lab, Philip Rosedale, Mitch Kapor and one or more other Second Life users (as John Does) for (variously) trademark infringement, trademark dilution, tortious interference (that is interference that causes injury), and fraud.
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The goods and services that it covers, well -- that's quite a list: Multimedia publishing of books, magazines, journals, software, games, music, and electronic publications; On-line publication of art; Publication of electronic magazines; Publication of electronic newspapers accessible via a global computer network; Publication of the editorial content of sites accessible via a global computer network; Publishing of electronic publications; Art exhibitions; Conducting workshops and seminars in art; Instruction in the field of art; Workshops and seminars in the field of art; Publication and editing of printed matter; Publication of books; Publication of books, magazines, almanacs and journals; Publication of books, of magazines, of journals, of newspapers, of periodicals, of catalogs, of brochures; Publication of books, reviews; Publication of brochures; Publication of documents in the field of training, science, public law and social affairs; Publication of journals; Publication of leaflets; Publication of magazines; Publication of manuals; Publication of musical texts; Publication of printed matter; Publication of text books; Publication of texts, books, journals; Publication of texts, books, magazines and other printed matter; Education in the field of art rendered through correspondence courses; Education in the field of art rendered through video conference; Educational services in the nature of art schools; Organizing community festivals featuring a variety of activities, namely, sporting events, art exhibitions, flea markets, ethnic dances and the like. [Whew]
Anything of the above bearing the SLART mark is technically the provenance of Richard Minsky. While SL is an unregistered (in the USA) trademark of Linden Research (more commonly known as Linden Lab), Linden did not file its mark with the USPTO for almost three months after SLART was submitted by Minsky (on 5 June, 2007).
Minsky is claiming in his complaint that Linden Lab did not honor his trademark, refusing to take action against infringing, non-nominative uses, made unreasonable demands, and attempted to convince him to abandon the mark and to license Linden's own mark instead.
Minsky is asking for a formal declaration that his trademark has been infringed, an order to compel Linden Lab to identify and remove infringing material (and to provide identifying information about the users involved), and US$1,000 per day per alleged act of infringement, starting April 24 and continuing until the matter is closed.
Now there's an incentive not to drag the case out. The only specific Second Life user named is Victor Vezina, physical identity presently unknown.
The complaint itself is an interesting and colorful read. Virtually Blind's Benjamin Duranske has the document in PDF form, and has some of the more exciting excerpts available in his coverage.
Whether all of Minsky's claims and remedies will hold up, remains to be seen. It's always fascinating to see the various parties of a civil action wash up against the rocks of a federal court judge, and to see who ultimately makes it ashore and who doesn't. Sometimes the strangest things wash up on the beach during proceedings.