Jokay Wollongong, one of the premier promoters and supporters of the educational uses of Second Life, and keeper of the largest single resource for Second Life educators, suffered something of a reversal this week, when Linden Lab decided that that very same resource, sleducation.wikispaces.com, infringed on their SL trademark (which has now only been registered for nine days), and sent Wollongong a takedown notice.
That's something of a surprise considering Linden Lab's ongoing endorsement of the site on the Second Life Education mailing-list. The site, which has been up since late 2006, documents over 100 case studies of educational projects in Second Life, as well as providing key community resources and information for educators who are just getting started with virtual environments.
Wollongong is disinclined to go head-to-head with the Lab on this one. A name-change will significantly reduce the visibility of the resources to educators on the Web for some time to come, though the situation will be mitigated somewhat by bringing the resources in under Wollongong's established Jokaydia umbrella.
"I just don't see that as a valuable use of our communities and my energy to go to tackle them on this," she told us in an interview earlier today, "This only spurs us to ensure that we diversify and ensure that we aren't as reliant on Second Life."
Under the Lanham Act, which controls the registration, usage and control of trademarks in the United States of America, Wollongong's usage appears to fall squarely under nominative fair use, and thus legally unable to be counted as dilution of Linden Lab's trademark which finally saw registration on 22 September this year.
It's not hard to see it as a slap in the face of the Second Life educational community, and doubtless some educators will see it as just that. As educators are beginning to explore alternatives, such as Metaplace and even Blue Mars, this move could hardly have come at a worse time for the Lab.
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