Mojang Wins First Round Against Bethesda

The ongoing legal spat has started out with the Minecraft developer being allowed some trademark time. The interim injunction allows Mojang to continue with the usage of “Scrolls” for their upcoming game.

The lawsuit, originally filed by ZeniMax, owner of Bethesda, argued that Mojang’s usage of “Scrolls” violated the trademarks to Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls series. To deal with the dispute, Notch then famously suggested settling the lawsuit over a game of Quake 3.

Not willing to jeopardize their suit in a hail of rockets, ZeniMax pursued the lawsuit in Swedish courts.

It should be noted however, that ZeniMax’s reason behind the lawsuit may not appear as, well, bad as some people may pertain it to be. While the majority of us may refer to The Elder Scrolls series games as Skyrim or Oblivion, The US Patent and Trademark Office apparently didn’t feel the same way:

“The applicant’s mark so resembles [The Elder Scrolls trademark] as to be likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive. Regarding the The Elder Scrolls marks, the applicant has merely deleted the term ELDER from the registered mark. The mere deletion of wording from a registered mark may not be sufficient to overcome a likelihood of confusion.”

Furthermore, due to nature of trademark laws in the US, such confusion could very well lead to a weakening of brand protection:

“Failing to protect a trademark could be damaging to an owner’s rights,” explained Angela Bozzuti, a trademark expert contacted by Kotaku. “Not only could it result in actual consumer confusion, but it could also weaken the strength of the mark in the marketplace. Furthermore, once there is widespread third party use of the term ‘Scrolls’ as or within a longer game title, it will likely weaken Zenimax’s mark and make protection difficult and limited.”

ZeniMax may still appeal the decision. We’ll keep you posted.

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