Scrolls defeats interim injunction in trademark case

The first, but surely not the last, judgement in the Scrolls vs. The Elder Scrolls trademark case has come down in favor of Mojang, denying ZeniMax's bid for an interim injunction that would've forbidden the Swedish indie from using the 'Scrolls' name.

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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.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    October 18, 2011 6:15 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Scrolls defeats interim injunction in trademark case.

    The first, but surely not the last, judgement in the Scrolls vs. The Elder Scrolls trademark case has come down in favor of Mojang, denying ZeniMax's bid for an interim injunction that would've forbidden the Swedish indie from using the 'Scrolls' name.

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      October 18, 2011 6:34 AM

      the shack so needs a "Legal" tag to avoid this mess this thread will become.

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        October 18, 2011 6:36 AM

        well you can just keep scrolling past it

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          October 18, 2011 6:37 AM

          Please make a check payable to Notch for $50.

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            October 18, 2011 6:42 AM

            I will pay in monopoly money.

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            October 18, 2011 9:04 AM

            LOLOL~

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            October 18, 2011 11:30 AM

            You may wish to pay small portions of it at non-regular intervals as long as you include promises of payment in full while going on vacation every weekend.

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      October 18, 2011 8:02 AM

      I would have sent the judge in this case a fat t-bone steak if he would have sent out surveymoney asking either gamers or the general public if they would get confused between the two name (would need to be in context of the appropriate marketing materials, not just the name). You just know how that survey would have ended up.

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      October 18, 2011 8:26 AM

      I don't know how the Swedish justice system works, but in the U.S., being denied an injunction is usually a bad sign for the plaintiff. If you have a modest chance of winning, an injunction is easy to get. (The end of the article suggests that it's the same in Sweden.) Go Notch! Say what you will about him, it's nice to see someone stand up and fight when being bullied through the legal system. So many people fold and settle which makes it easier for abusive companies to continue with their practices.

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        October 18, 2011 9:53 AM

        Sometimes there might be a good case against the defendant, but because of other hardship considerations like profit potential, solvency, and general harm to the company, an injunction might not be granted immediately. It can be a trough balancing act for the judge. The judge might see monetary damages by way of a settlement or verdict as a better way to gain compensation for the harm (happens a lot with nuisance cases). Of course, this injunction, in reality, will have little impact on Notch, so yeah, seeing that the judge didn't grant one is a good sign that it's really not going to go ZeniMax's way.

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        October 18, 2011 10:48 AM

        Isn't Notch kind of being the dick here? I can't say I know the whole story.

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          October 18, 2011 10:54 AM

          Assuming you read this story today, what part of it gives you the impression that Notch is being a dick? I mean, he can be a dick, but the name wasn't chosen to make ZeniMax mad or to ride on Skyrim's name.

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          October 18, 2011 10:54 AM

          Personally, I'm in favor of Zenimax's position here, but I have an unnatural hatred towards notch and I've spent all of like, 3 hours in Minecraft so there is absolutely no justification for it.

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          October 18, 2011 10:57 AM

          Notch is only a dick if you think Zenimax is the only company that can make a game with the word "Scrolls" in it's title. Not "Elder Scrolls", just "Scrolls", the incredibly common word used in 90% of all fantasy games.

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            October 18, 2011 11:05 AM

            However scrolls is not a word used in the titles of 90% of all fantasy games.

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              October 18, 2011 12:04 PM

              No, but it's a generic word that does not automatically bring the Elder Scrolls to mind, which is the point.

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          October 18, 2011 11:40 AM

          Notch initially attempted to copyright "Scrolls" thats kinda the only thing he did wrong. If he had not only would it have been ridiculous but would also have legitimately threatened bethesda. Notch was basically all "lol I don't know what I'm doing copyright everything". He dropped that though but bethesda decided that they need to sue anyways to stop if him from using the word scrolls even with out a copyright thats makes them the dick now now.

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          October 18, 2011 1:52 PM

          The whole story is a little messy, but IMHO Zenimax are being the bigger dicks here. However, the more important issue to me is that a trademark on "Elder Scrolls" should not block anyone making games from using either "Elder" or "Scrolls" in their game titles. Too many bad precedents have been set in trademark disputes, I really don't want yet another one.

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      October 18, 2011 11:45 AM

      I would have more respect if Bethesda would have accepted Notches Quake III Challenge over going to Court. If they would have been Real Gamers, and beat Notch he would have changed the name.

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        October 18, 2011 11:50 AM

        The Quake3 challenge was their best shot at winning :D

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        October 18, 2011 2:01 PM

        We should have settled this as men, not with fire...

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      October 18, 2011 5:59 PM

      I dunno, when you put those two screenshots right next to one another, it gets a liiiittle confuuuuusing...