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Scrolls defeats interim injunction in trademark case

by Alice O'Connor, Oct 18, 2011 6:15am PDT

The first, but surely not the last, judgement in the Mojang vs. ZeniMax trademark case has come down in favor of the Minecraft developer. A Swedish court denied an interim injunction against Mojang's Scrolls, ruling that it was unlikely to be confused with The Elder Scrolls series developed by ZeniMax subsidiary Bethesda.

"We won the interim injunction! We can keep using the name 'Scrolls'. ZeniMax/Bethesda can still appeal the ruling, but I'm very happy," Mojang founder Markus Persson declared on Twitter.

ZeniMax had sought an interim injunction to temporarily stop Mojang from using the 'Scrolls' name while the main case was being settled. According to ZeniMax, "Scrolls," which Mojang has trademarked, infringes upon its own trademark for "The Elder Scrolls," and consumers might not realise they are unrelated.

Mojang business developer Daniel Kaplan released his own English-language summary of the original Swedish documents, explaining the court's reasoning.

According to Kaplan's summary, the court noted that the two games are similar in ways, both in fantasy settings, and having somewhat-overlapping audiences, plus, of course the whole "Scrolls" thing. However, it also observed that the two games are very different, and will be distributed in different ways.

While ZeniMax argued that the general public might still confuse them, the court sided with Mojang's view that games players are more aware of such things than the general public.

As for the names 'Scrolls' and 'The Elder Scrolls' themselves, while there's obviously a similarity, it was deemed insufficient. As scrolls are hugely common items in works of fantasy, and the word's been used in other titles before, the court decided that the "Scrolls" in "The Elder Scrolls" was not distinctive enough in itself, that the name as a whole was what mattered.

However, this is all far from over. ZeniMax still has three weeks to appeal the interim injunction ruling and, after that, the main case still needs to be tried. Still, Mojang is optimistic about this first judgement, saying that it bodes well given the supposedly lower requirements of probable grounds for interim injunctions.





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