Bunneh v. Horsie: Linden Lab Partner Ozimals Embroiled in Totally Adorable Virtual Animal Copyright Suit
Fluff Enemies: Amaretto Horses and Ozimal Bunnies
Amaretto Ranch Breedables, LLC v. Ozimals, Inc. is a recently filed Copyright Infringement lawsuit filed in Northern California court which pits the creators of two competing virtual animal breeds in Second Life: Amaretto makes breedable horses, while Ozimals makes breedable bunnies. Notably, Ozimals recently became a marketing partner of Second Life creator Linden Lab, which has launched an advertising campaign depicting SL as a place for raising cute 3D animals. Now, however, two of those animals species are engaged in a brutal hoof-against-paw legal battle, which started when Ozimals filed a DMCA takedown notice against Amaretto through Linden Lab, alleging that aspects of the breedable horse were copied from the breedable bunny. This dispute escalated after Amaretto filed a counter DMCA notice and copyright lawsuit. It's hardly the first lawsuit over Second Life content, but seems noteworthy for a number of reasons:
I believe this could be the first time two registered limited liability corporations which develop Second Life content have gone to court (previous lawsuits are usually individual versus individual or LLC versus individual), which would also be notable. And while virtual animals have been a mass market phenomenon at least since the advent of Tamagotchi in 1996, I believe this is the first lawsuit over the category (at least in recent years.) So if this lawsuit is decided in court, may establish precedent that'll impact virtual animals across all platforms, from social gaming to handheld consoles.
However the matter is decided, I'll surely be watching the case for more developments, but meantime, you can read Amaretto's side of the story here, and Ozimals side of the story here. Tateru Nino has some analysis as well, who also provides a link to the actual lawsuit [PDF].
Update, 12/20: Bumped up.