It is official: Second Life has its own Patent and Trademark Office. After paying a visit to this virtual PTO, it seems that it is more of a copyright registry than a patent office. The website promises real protection for virtual assets, but how it can provide real protection without using a real legal system is curious. It also hopes to provide tools to protect IP without having to resort to using those pesky lawyers!
The folks over at Davis make some good points about the viability of this office. It is also worth noting that these guys don't really seem to know what a patent is, or they would have called their site SLCTO, Second Life Copyright and Trademark Office. Most of the IP in SL is protected under copyright, and even if people were creating patentable inventions (which they probably are), there does not seem to be any examination process (which is necessary). Plus, in the real world, securing copyright protection is cheap and easy for those interested in pursuing it; perhaps, this site will streamline the process for the average SL user, making it even easier.
All of the I-can't-believe-this-will-work-because-I'm-a-lawyer rhetoric aside, it seems like a good idea to create a centralized repository for the innovations of Second Life, not only for viewing and record-keeping, but also to provide a dependable catalog should a "first world" dispute arise.