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Bethesda VP says company 'forced' into Scrolls dispute

by Steve Watts, Oct 07, 2011 10:15am PDT

ZeniMax is pressing forward with legal action against Mojang Specifications over use of the word "Scrolls," but now Bethesda VP of marketing Pete Hines is speaking publicly on the case for the first time, with some expert analysis from lawyers uninvolved in the case.

"Mojang's public comments have not given a complete picture as it relates to their filings, our trademarks, or events that have taken place," Hines said.

Kotaku reports that the legal action is part of ZeniMax's duty to protect its trademark. The US Patent & Trademark office noted the naming similarity in a letter filed two weeks before ZeniMax's suit. The USPTO rejected Mojang's US trademark application.

That would seem to be the end of it, but Mojang's Markus Persson claims ZeniMax has rejected offers to compromise, calling the company "unreasonable." However, ZeniMax may be legally obligated to defend its trademark, and deny any permutation of the word "Scrolls" in Mojang's game. Trademark owners have to protect their marks, or risk losing them, according to trademark legal specialist Angela Bozzuti. Even if Mojang didn't gain a US trademark, ZeniMax would have to gain an injunction to prevent Mojang's use of the name unless the two reach a resolution.

"Failing to protect a trademark could be damaging to an owner's rights," said Bozutti. "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." In other words, if they fail to defend against this case, the trademark could become diluted and they'd have a weaker position against future cases.

Hines echoed the sentiment. "Nobody here enjoys being forced into this," he said. "Hopefully it will all be resolved soon."





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