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Coca-Cola releases trademark to Second Life merchants | VintFalken.com
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VintFalken.com

Coca-Cola releases trademark to Second Life merchants

June 28, 2007 9:44 am

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Freebie 'Coca-Cola' outfitOn the 7th of June 2007 I received an e-mail from SLexchange that my Coke outfit was in violation of Coca-Cola’s trademark and the listing was taken down from their website. I was a surprised, as I thought everybody must have know that with their Virtual Thirst campaign, Coke was actually calling out to the Second Life residents to create ‘Coke content’. I was to supply proof we could actually do so: ‘If you have permission to use the Coca-Cola trademark, please provide us with proof and we will reactivate your listings.’

I don’t know what had gotten into me at that time, but rather than posting an aggitated rant here about calling out to create Coke oriented content only to force it being taken down afterwards, I contacted C.C. Chapman - one of the person I met at the Virtual Thirst party - to ask if he could sort things out. He was as surprised by the news as I was - and probably worried too - and said he would try and sort things out.

June 22, SLexchange sends out the following: ‘ We have spoken to Coca-Cola and they have released their trademark to SL Merchants. Therefore, any of your items that were disabled on June 7, 2007 have been retrieved….’*

Now I was wondering, wouldn’t it be nice if Linden Labs creates a list on their website of all the real world companies - assuming that other companies are willing to do this too - that released their trademark as far as it comes to Second Life.

The benefits I see for this:

  • Residents can create products based on that trademark without having to fear to get their pants layer sued off.
  • The real world companies don’t need to worry about maintaining islands, making sure those are populated, etc. I am sure the residents that created content based on a trademark will take care of the promoting themselves. Or they could just create a shop that gathers all resident created content involving their brand, …
  • They can watch which products residents create for that trademark. Maybe one of us really comes up with something ‘neat’.

Another possible approach if they want to control more what is created: Write out a contest for product creation for a certain trademark. The winner will then be allowed to sell virtual goods for that trademark in Second Life.

And I’m sure there are tons of other possibilities left.

* Strangely enough, not a word about the bottle of Evian that accompagnies the outfit. So actually, they should delist it again. *grins* Also the outfit has never been delisted from SLBoutique. Maybe the Electronic Sheep Company doesn’t really care about trademark violations**.

** Jade Lily in the comments: ‘We never received any DMCA complaint from Coca-Cola. :) Interesting news about the trademark release! I’m glad everything worked out.’

12 Responses to “Coca-Cola releases trademark to Second Life merchants”

C.C. Chapman wrote a comment on June 28, 2007
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I’m glad everything got worked out and that your very cool outfit is now back up there.

I don’t know (this is 100% hypothetical guessing), but I have a feeling some company went after SL Exchange for something that was created. I know I got a money refund for a “sony” laptop I had bought to put on my desk in SL and I’ve noticed lots of branded things gone from the site. I wish the real story would come out.

Thank you again for contacting me directly before posting! It is appreciated and keep up the great design and photography work.

Seraphine wrote a comment on June 28, 2007
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Companies fear somebody will abuse a logo or trademark by using it in an unflattering way. Someone may use of a logo to promote an item, or idea, with which the company may prefer not to be associated.

Vint Falken wrote a comment on June 28, 2007
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I think that danger is far overrated. We already know the RL brands and what they (say) they stand for plus they can add the rule that you must state that it is not an ‘official’ product by that company? Or for instance specify that all goods must be PG?
At the same time, the best (working) virtual goods will get the most of the attention and the bad/useless/uninteresting ones will go into meta-oblivion?

Take for instance the ‘absolut’ contests at W1k. Does this harm the Absolut brand? The opposite even, I think.

csven wrote a comment on June 28, 2007
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Interesting development.

As for getting LL to keep a list, I once asked them to do something similar: keep a list of trademarks that were being officially sanctioned for resident use by the trademark holders. They declined. However, maybe the topic could be raised in this different context.

Technovia » del.icio.us bookmarks for June 28th sent a pingback on June 28, 2007
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[…] Coca-Cola releases trademark to Second Life merchants - Coca-Cola allows vendors in SL to use its trademark. Well done! June 29th, 2007 […]

Jade Lily wrote a comment on June 28, 2007
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“Maybe the Electronic Sheep Company doesn’t really care about trademark violations.”

We never received any DMCA complaint from Coca-Cola. :) Interesting news about the trademark release! I’m glad everything worked out.

Dal wrote a comment on June 29, 2007
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@C.C.Chapman: great work. And applauds to the Coke folks. This is a move which got them a lot of bonus points (at least in my eyes :-) for thinking out of the box. Can I use it as a positive case study ?

@Vint: why would we wait for LLs to create such a page ? Maybe the folks like electricsheep+slexchange could cooperate and make a resource like this ? (also would encourage other brands to think out of the box ?

(Jade, what do you think? :)

@Seraphine: I think either that or just fear of “doing something wrong”.
However, to stimulate the thinking, I’d put a question differently:
1) there are tons of hazards just when we walk out on the street - many people were killed there. Yet, we go out and walk. :-)
2) if the thinking is that “the trademark is going to be abused”, this assumes the reasonably high percentage of the evildoers in the target audience, so if one would assume the target crowd to be so evil - why bother doing any marketing at all…

csven wrote a comment on June 29, 2007
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I’m with Dal:

a) a 3rd party or parties can maintain a list of released trademarks. Seems like cooperation among the various vendor sites would benefit them all.

b) users who abuse a trademark are going to do so regardless of permission. I think the bigger question is: what *specifically* have they communicated. I would venture that Coca-Cola still reserves the right to enforce their trademark when they deem necessary. In other words, people who use the brand in non-hostile fashion can do so, while those who associate the brand with certain behaviors could be sent a C&D (e.g. a virtual play glorifying the Nazi’s… with Coca-Cola plastered on the stage curtain suggesting sponsorship).

-

Has anyone read the actual communication from Coca-Cola? Would like to see that.

Vint Falken wrote a comment on June 29, 2007
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@Jade: Any other DMCA complaints you did receive? ;)

@Dal: Ok, indeed, SLexchange and SLboutique could do this too, but I figured as it was ‘their’ world after all and it concerns all the residents LL might as well do this, as they would benefit from this too. Also - for me - ‘credentials’ would be more high when such list is published by Linden Labs then that it’s published by a third party. (Regardless if they work together with LL or not.)

@Csven: I only have my email conversation with Mr. Chapman. I suggest you ask either him or the people at SLexchange. Although Tigress Stormwind did tell Adam Reuters something else then what she put in the mail I received: “We contacted Coca-Cola to inquire and were told that they are allowing products with their trademark in SL, under certain conditions,” she said in a Second Life interview with Reuters. “They pointed out that they did not want anything overtly sexual or violent in content … Technically they haven’t ‘released’ their trademark, but they have given SL residents permission to use it.”

And at first I actually had something like that in mind for the outfit. But then realised they might not be to blame for not being able to predict WWII in 1925. And that I’d probably be thrown out of the party. *grins*

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[…] Tigress Stormwind (SLExchange staff member) states: “We were told by Coca-Cola, that they are allowing products with their trademark in SL, under certain conditions.”. Second Life blogger Vint Falken got things rolling by developing a unauthorized Coke-themed outfit. Follow the story @ http://www.vintfalken.com. […]

Coke Supply wrote a comment on February 27, 2008
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I’m so glad they didn’t try to sue me or get me banned from SL because of my avatar name!!

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