Don’t Tase Me, Bro… Second Life Zapped by TASER Lawsuit

TASER International, which manufactures the controversial electric stun guns that bear its name, has given a jolt to Linden Lab and a number of its corporate executives with a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona.

TASER, which faces numerous lawsuits of its own filed by individuals who have been tased (or, in some cases, their survivors) is concerned that virtual TASER replica items are being sold in Second Life as gear for SL avatars (see pic at left).

TASER also alleges that its brand will be damaged via association with virtual sex and virtual drug use occuring within Second Life. From the 102-page complaint:

All of the defendants that sell virtual property like Plaintiff’s real ones, under the mark TASER for use in Second Life programs and grids, also sell adult-only explicit images and scenes… thus attaching such content to the TASER mark… and also sell unlawful drug materials… thus attaching such content to the TASER mark…

TASER ‘s claims are primarily based on trademark considerations. The company seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Via: Massively

UPDATE: New World Notes has more…

UPDATE 2: GamesLaw offers a legal analysis of the TASER suit.

UPDATE 3: New World Notes reports that Linden Lab, owner of SL, contacted an in-world vendor of virtual items and requested that "Taser" be replaced with "stun gun."

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Alyric says:

    I’ve never been tasered, but I don’t doubt you on that.

    However, a taser is much more likely to put a suspect down quickly, which makes the police officer(s) safer.

  2. hellfire7885 says:

    I’ve seen dozens of products that resemble devices I’ve seen mad by TASER and many even refer to stun guns even not made by them as TASERS.

  3. JDKJ says:

    Depending on the totality of the circumstances, basing the "look" of a product on another product could be an infringement of a trademark if the distinctive "look" of the product has been trademarked. For example, I believe the distinctive "look" of the hourglass-shaped Coca-Cola bottle has been trademarked by Coca-Cola. Not matter what you rename your product, if the use of the Coca-Cola bottle shape is likely to confuse consumers that your product is Cola-Cola’s product, then you could well be infringing on Coca-Cola’s trademark.    

  4. Austin_Lewis says:

    The TASER is an intermediate step between a tactical baton (or nightstick) and the use of a firearm.

    Also, ‘hundreds’ of police officers don’t abuse their product.  There’s relatively few cases of real abuse, most are, like quite a few claims, abuse of the system by criminals.

  5. Austin_Lewis says:

    You would think that, but having been TASERed, I’d much rather take the stick to my knee.

  6. hellfire7885 says:

    I’ve never seen anything being sodl claiming ot be an "official" product on the SL grid. Usually the look is based on a real object adn renamed.

  7. Kalerender says:

    Common sense (which we all know the law has practically zero of) would tell me the following:

    1. Napster/PB comparisons are irrelevant, we all know (even if we don’t want to admit it) that people used it for sharing things you would normally have to pay for to get a private copy of. Yes there would be some freely shareable content on there, but come on, none of us are stupid, we all know what the people using it were/are doing. Not that I’m saying any of us did that sort of stuff 🙂

    2. To me Linden makes the second life world, and the people make (most) of the stuff in it. Yep I’m sure there would be people copying real items, it’s a virtual playground.

    3. Taser if it wanted to have its name unassociated (note, the NAME, not the actual product concept of shocking someone, it’s not like they’re replicating taser technology perfectly to shock someone who speaks out of turn, they’re simulating the result) should’ve contacted both linden/the company selling the item to get it removed.

    4. If Taser contacted them, and the companies said ‘stfu’ then I can definately see and agree with a lawsuit to get the name removed. If they havn’t and Taser are just going off on a tree, then I doubt they have a leg to stand on.


    Of course, legal predicting as a layman in a whole new frontier is riskier than gambling in vegas.

  8. JDKJ says:

    I don’t see them getting even that much from the court. I didn’t read the complaint, but it seems, because no one’s selling a real product similar to their product, all they can reasonably claim is reputational damage and no monetary damage from lost sales. If so, the most they’re likely to get is the judge ordering the defendants to knock it off.

  9. AuntySocial says:

    I guess they are trying to recoup losses from people suing for being injured by their real product.  Or maybe they’re scared that some virtual person will sue them for being virturally tasered.  I’d give them one dollar, then charge them that dollar for uselessly taking up space in the courtroom.



    PMBD The truth about T$R EA + T$R = We’re all screwed

  10. Thomas McKenna says:

    also, Tasers have come to replace night sticks in the grand majority of cases.  I’d much rather have a cop coming down on me with a taser rather than busting out my knee caps with a stick, which was the former recomended method.

  11. JDKJ says:

    No shame. I don’t know my ROM from my RAM.

    There are, however, a variety of state and federal laws which allow for the criminal prosecution of those engaged in the functional equivalent of trademark infringement (e.g., fraud statutes). The NYPD and the Manhattan D.A.’s Office frequently raid Chinatown and arrest and charge those persons found selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, Rolex watches, and other knock-off goods.   

  12. bracomadar says:

    I would think Tazer’s repuatation would be hurt worse by the hundreds of police officers that abuse their product that some stupid video game version that doesn’t actually hurt anyone.  Tazers suck anyway.  If you want to protect yourself, just buy a real gun. 

    PSN: bracomadar

  13. JDKJ says:

    It depends.

    If the allegation is one of "direct infringement," then the plaintiff-copyright holder must prove that the defendant engaged in an explotative act reserved only to the holder of the copyright (i.e., the scienter requirement is "willful" or "intentional").

    If the allegation is one of "contributory infringement," then the plaintiff-copyright holder must prove that the defendant knowingly contributed in a material way to the infringing conduct (i.e., the scienter requirement is "with knowledge").

    And I don’t think a federal trademark infringement action can ever be criminal in nature. As I recall, Lanham doesn’t provide for any criminal penalties. Just the frequently granted injuntive relief and the rarely granted monetary damages. Which is why the smart person first requests that the alleged infringer cease and desist — because that’s usually all the court will grant them as relief, anyway.

  14. Defenestrator says:

    That’s pretty much the defense that Napster and Pirate Bay tried to use.  How’d that work out for them?

    As JDKJ mentioned, you need to send a cease & desist letter threatening legal action.  LL might think they’re off the hook, but they’re going to lose this case.  The whole double talk of LL saying, "We’re not the ones doing it.  It’s the users!" doesn’t fly when you also have the users saying, "We don’t techically own this stuff!  It’s virtual property on their servers!"

    Just because Linden Labs’ EULA says they aren’t responsible, doesn’t mean they actually aren’t.

  15. DarkSaber says:

    Yeah, I thought after I posted, PB happened in Sweden, with a Swedish court and Swedish laws, so a direct comparison isn’t very good.

    Like people have pointed out here, it seems LL policies are a bit labyrinthine, with some sort of "We don’t own the content you create, but neither do you’ thing going on. SOMEONE is responsible for the content on those servers, and if it’s not the users or the company, then who?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  16. JDKJ says:

    That’s precisely why the Lanham Act requires that before you file suit alleging trademark infringement, you first send the alleged infringer a cease-and-desist letter informing them of your trademark, requesting that they stop the alleged infringring conduct, and advising them that refusal to stop will result in legal action against them.

  17. JDKJ says:


    I believe the Lanham Act requires that before you file suit alleging trademark infringement, you first send the alleged infringer a cease-and-desist letter informing them of your trademark, requesting that they stop the alleged infringring conduct, and advising them that refusal to stop will result in legal action against them.

  18. lumi says:

    First off, apples and oranges with the comparison to PB.

    Secondly, while LL can’t really be held responsible for users creating copyright-infringing material (or indecent material, etc.), they can be expected to monitor it, discourage it, and eliminate it when it’s found.

    I think they probably do have an obligation to prevent copyright infringement within the use of their product.

  19. chadachada321 says:

    But what if they don’t know about it? They can’t know about every single piece of data that is put on there, there will surely be some copyright infringement that will take place, but you can’t just blame LL for that. There has to be true negligence or stupidity (on LL’s part) to warrent such a lawsuit.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  20. Torven says:

    That was why I brought up section 230 of the CDA.  It protects service providers from user generated content, but I think only so far as threats, defamation and whatnot.  I do not believe it exempts them from copywrite or trademark violations, which is what this is, and since LL owns the servers on which that content is hosted, even if they do not own the content, they are aiding its distribution.

  21. DarkSaber says:

    But that’s the thing, can anyone seriously say with a straight face that LL are NOT responsible for what is in THEIR software on THEIR servers. If they aren’t responsible for it, who is?

    Pirate Bay tried that whole defence and look what happened in the end.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  22. USMC Colonel James Slate says:

    Ahh, Second Life, now there’s an interesting topic, just in my dealings with Linden Labs, I don’t think that TASER will be successful, due to the fact that apparently Linden Labs only runs the world, and doesn’t own the content, but also apparently the residents don’t own the content either?

    In the small amount of time that I had to deal with the Second Life people, I found it quite confusing to say the least, when we were thinking about opening an area to promote the Marines, all this came down to, no one fucking knows who owns what.

  23. Torven says:

    The thing is, TASER has to enforce their trademark; it’s the same as Disney and Hannah Barbara forcing elementary schools to remove unauthorized murals of their cartoon characters.  Also, I am not certain, but I think Linden Labs may not be able to seek section 230 protection on this one; I don’t think it extends to trademark infringement.

  24. KaylaKaze says:

    Well, the lawsuit is invalid as LL is not responsible for the items’ creations or the use of the word. If the lawsuit decides that they’re somehow responsible for policing to make sure such trademark names aren’t used, all they have to do is send emails to those selling TASER (and I’m sure other trademarked) items requesting they change the names on the items.

  25. Alyric says:

    I can’t say I understand people’s problems with police having tasers. Certainly, there are a minority who abuse them, but we’re already trusting them with guns, after all.

    I’d prefer the majority of officers who will never abuse a taser to have a relatively non-lethal way to control a suspect who is resisting arrest, rather than expect them all to resort to beating or shooting.

    And hey, if you don’t want to be tased, don’t pick a fight with a police officer.

  26. JDKJ says:

    I don’t know about Jell-O, but both Kleenex and Coke are former trademarked brand names which have become genericized.

  27. MrKlorox says:

    Would be a better case for Jell-O or Kleenex. Who uses terms like "facial tissue" or "gelatin snack"? Nobody, that’s who.

    Hell, in this part of Texas, all carbonated beverages are referred to as Cokes.

  28. JDKJ says:

    You’re not recalling correctly. Neither "Walkman" nor "Tarmac" have been declared genericized. Both continue to be legally recognized trademarks. "Yo-Yo," however, has been declared genericized.

  29. Samster says:


    Sounds like there’d be a good case for claiming ‘taser’ has become a genericised trademark, which has killed off a good number of trademarks in the past. Walkman, hoover, yo-yo, tarmac . . . all were brand names once IIRC.

  30. Austin_Lewis says:

    Are you fucking retarded?  ‘Abuse the device’?  There are VERY FEW incidents of abuse of the device, especially when compared to complaints about excessive use of force ranging from being thrown to the ground to being shot for drawing a gun.

    The great thing about the TASER is that it has no long lasting effects.  It’s an intermediate step between hand to hand or tactical baton and having to use a sidearm.  It allows for more discretion, and as someone who has had the TASER demonstrated on them, it will stop any criminal in their tracks.

    And you need to do some real research.  Also, Postal 2 didn’t use a real TASER, it used a generic stun gun (oddly named, because it doesn’t have a projectile to it), that’s why they weren’t sued.  Once again, research.

  31. Murdats says:

    those who abuse tasers would probably just as likely gladly wack you over the head with a nice solid stick, I would prefer the lack of head trauma and concussion

  32. Neeneko says:

    Because there are more customers who believe the police are always good then games are always good.

    There are a lot of people who truely believe ‘police can do more wrong’ (or at minimal, if something does go wrong, the person must have deserved it or the police should get away with it because they are protecting us),.. and unfortunatly many police officers (often ones with purchacing power) believe this.

  33. DarkSaber says:

    Probably because they’ve never heard of Postal 2 😛


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  34. hellfire7885 says:

    Police who use their products are usually all too willing to abuse the device and they’re worried about it being used in a game?


    SO, why aren’t they suing the makers of Postal 2?

  35. chadachada321 says:

    Not with a taser, but a good example of some of the fucked up shit that cops do. This is tame compared to stuff that they do off camera, but nontheless stupid. And the worst part is that this cop won’t be fired, he’ll hardly get a slap on the wrist!

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  36. Torven says:

    It depends; Linden Labs is selling the currency used to puchase the virtual TASERS; it could be argued that they profit off the sales of any virtual content they allow on their servers and are therefore responsible for that content.

  37. DraginHikari says:

    It’s rather funny really… I never even knew about SL until I started coming to this site.

  38. DarkSaber says:

    Been a while since I played it last, but I think they were just called Stun Guns.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  39. Murdats says:

    does postal 2 call them tasers or stun guns?

    taser doesn’t own the right to stun guns but they are trying to protect their brand here

  40. DarkSaber says:

    People outside of the gaming ‘loop’ always seem to think SL is a far, far bigger deal than it is. Just look at politicians who keep trying to use it to ‘connect with the youth of today’.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  41. hellfire7885 says:

    True, but what I was getting at is this is the first I heard about them not wanting their product assciated with a certain something, yet not attacking forms of media that might do it worse. Almost no one knows about SL or cares when something happens there, yet other things get a free ride.

  42. IsoNeko says:

    We at Taser, would hate to see our reputation get ruined by people doing dastardly deeds, so were also looking to pull out of the "Earth" market. Due to people being people.

  43. Valdearg says:

    I can honestly say that I agree with Taser’s lawsuit on this one. If I were trying to run a reputible company, I’d hate to have my image associated with pornography and drug use, even to such a small audience. Generally speaking, I usually am biased towards the little person, with regards to corporations suing individuals, but in this case, I can see Taser’s point.

  44. Neeneko says:

    Assuming they are suing the right people, that is exactly what it will come down to.

    But since they are suing Linden Labs instead, it will get rather murkey since LL is not the content producer nor the content owner.  This really gets into the whole topic of who is legally responsible for user created content, esp when one expclititly does NOT claim ownership of what is producted.

  45. DarkSaber says:

    Did they or did they not give permission for their brand to be in the game? Surely it’s that simple?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Comments are closed.