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.

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