Was it only Friday that I launched my series of books based on the computer game Minecraft? How cruel that the very next day I should receive an email from Mojang – the company that makes Minecraft – telling me that I had infringed their trademark and that I must withdraw my books from sale.
I am – of course – very much aware of the law relating to trademarks. I had – of course – read the company’s policy towards use of their trademarks. I had – of course – taken the greatest care to comply with their requirements. I honestly believed that this document – https://account.mojang.com/terms#brand – granted me permission to use their trademark “MINECRAFT” in my books. Mojang’s founder, Notch, has been a powerful advocate for internet freedom and Mojang has positively encouraged third-party products such as software mods and Minecraft multi-player servers.
But when I wrote to the company explaining how I had taken every care to comply with their terms and conditions, they replied that:
“When the word Minecraft is used on a book cover … we are not okay with it anymore”
Times change, it seems. Mojang is being acquired by Microsoft, and its founders are leaving. And legal documents are slippery things that can be reinterpreted by lawyers according to a company’s changing priorities.
Was I unfairly singled out by the company? After all, there are hundreds, if not thousands of unofficial Minecraft-branded products for sale on Amazon alone. It seems not. When I queried this fact with Mojang, they told me that:
“We are in the process of contacting all third parties that infringe the Terms and Brand Guidelines.”
So, apologies to everyone who read my blog post on Friday. My books are no longer for sale.