Web week

Lawyers are getting into Second Life. This year has witnessed the creation of the Second Life Bar Association and the launch of Field Fisher Waterhouse‘s new office. Now the imaginary world has its own patent and trademark office.

Yes, SLPTO, short for Second Life Patent & Trademark Office, (www.slpto. com) has opened its doors, offering “real protection for virtual assets”. It is the creation of IT consultant Michael Eckstein and a Second Life developer known as FlipperPA Peregrine.

Their service has been set up to stop people copying and selling limited edition items in Second Life, such as a nice imaginary chair or some theme music.

In an interview with blogger Virtually Blind (http://virtuallyblind.com/), Peregrine said: “We have no legal authority, nor do we have any special power over Linden Lab.”

So that would be virtual protection for virtual assets then.

Thinking about it, IP law is pretty much the only law that can apply in Second Life. IP is all there is, real property just wouldn’t fit in the computer. Try instructing a real estate lawyer for a purchase of a virtual office block and see what he says. It’s astonishing how fast some firms can work when not charging by the hour.

West Coast firm Morrison & Foerster has managed to come up with a 72-page booklet containing legal advice for people caught up in the Californian fires within a week. That is 10 pages a day at least. The pdf can be found on their website (www.mofo.com).

It mentions a federal programme called Disaster Unemployment Assistance, which has been set up to provide benefits to workers who have lost their job as a direct result of a major natural disaster. One wonders if it is really worth working for an employer that sacks you for not coming into work because you’re too busy watching your house and all your possessions burn to a cinder.

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@thelawyer.com.