RealTime IT News

Sex Toy IP Scandal Rocks Second Life

Anyone bargain hunting for a Second Life sex toy may find some deals are too good to be true.

A company called Eros says it's been being victimized by cheap, illegal knock-offs. The faux Eros SexGen Platinum Base Unit is said to animate coupled avatars in the same erotic manner as the "real" thing.

The case of Eros LLC vs. John Doe a/k/a Volkov Catteneo, has been underway since July 3 in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida.

Eros CEO Kevin Alderman alleges the defendant, who goes by the monikor Volkov Catteneo in Linden Lab's virtual world Second Life, continues to make and sell unauthorized copies of Eros's "adult- themed virtual objects" within Second Life, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by internetnews.com.

Unfortunately for Alderman, it's harder to tell the difference between a genuine SexGen and a pirated copy than it is in the real world to spot a 'Pamosonic' among Panasonics.

But that's why the case is in court, Alderman's lawyer Frank Taney told internetnews.com.

Taney, from the firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, described Eros's SexGen as "probably the best known adult-themed product in [the Second Life] world." The Eros Sexgen sells for about $45 a pop, Taney said. He also noted that Alderman sold his plumbing business and employs 12 people to help meet demand for the SexGen on Second Life.

"Some people say this is PR. No, it's not," Taney said, "It's pretty basic. We allege this guy is stealing [Alderman's] stuff and [Alderman] is suing to protect his income."

Alderman's complaint against Volkov Catteneo will be the first Second Life-related case Taney's taken to a real world court. Some might question whether it's appropriate to settle virtual world claims in U.S. courts, even if money is involved.

Not Marc Friedman, a partner with Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross, where he is chair of the Intellectual Property practice group. Friedman is also a past president of the Computer Law Association, now known as International Technology Law Association.

"I know there's going to be a hue and cry that a court should not be used to resolve cyber disputes, but that's what courts are for: to help identify whether a wrong has been committed, whether there are duties owed to a plaintiff and whether there are injuries that need to be compensated for," Friedman told internetnews.com.

Alderman did not respond to requests for comments and "Volkov Catteneo" could not be reached.