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Amaretto Ranch Breedables has obtained a temporary restraining order against Linden Lab as the next step in its legal battle with rival virtual animal manufacturer, Ozimals – pending a bond payment. A preliminary hearing date has been set for next month.

Here’s the meat of the order:

Linden Research, and all persons in active concert or participation with Linden Research, are temporarily restrained from taking down from Second Life Plaintiff’s Horse Product Line. This temporary restraint is effectively immediately and shall remain in effect until this Court rules on Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiff shall post a bond of $25,000 by Monday, December 28, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. The bond shall be filed with the Clerk’s Office and be deposited into the registry of the Court. If said bond is not posted by the aforementioned date, this temporary restraining order shall be dissolved.

Essentially, the judge does not see an issue with allowing Amaretto to continue now that a lawsuit is in progress, as – if Amaretto is ultimately found to be in breach of Ozimals’ intellectual property – Ozimals will receive any profits Amaretto makes during this period as a matter of course.

Also there’s this very telling comment by judge Charles Breyer in III(B)(1):

Plaintiff has at least raised serious questions going to the merits of its section 512(f) claim. This is because software copyright protection does not apply to functionality. See 17 U.S.C. § 102(b). Thus, even if Defendant was the first to come up with a virtual animal that requires “food” to “live,” any copyright it has does not prevent another company from marketing virtual animals with similar traits provided, essentially, that that company did not copy Defendant’s programming.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 January, 2011. The full text of the order is available as a PDF.

[Thanks to Pat Perth for bringing this to our attention]

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