A Horse of a Different Color

It seems that the United States did not have quite enough litigation currently crawling through the court systems. No; the time had come to start filing really interesting lawsuits. Lawsuits that could mean the difference between life and death for virtual bunnies and ponies.

Intellectual property has always been a complex issue, especially in terms of goods and services provided via the internet. Everyone has ideas, and anyone can make them work. Protecting the rights to online concepts should be protected just as the rights to physical property are protected in the real world. However, when applying these rights to virtual societies such as the game Second Life, the legal issues can seem downright ridiculous.

Ozimals, Inc. is a maker of virtual bunnies that can be bought, bred, and sold on Second Life. In addition to the bunnies themselves, Ozimals sells bunny food, which is the real cash cow. Amaretto Ranch Breedables, LLC, created a similar business model, only with horses. Ozimals has sued, in real life court, to stop Amaretto from selling their horses or food for the horses.

At what point does a common sense business idea- make money by creating and selling virtual pets and accessories- become one company’s intellectual property? Is it extreme to demand all competitors stop any activity that looks similar to Ozimals’?

Most importantly, what will become of the ponies?

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