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Notch's Bethesda case going to court

Tue 27 Sep 2011 2:37pm GMT / 10:37am EDT / 7:37am PDT
Legal

Minecraft developer sued over use of the word "scrolls"

Bethesda Softworks

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bethsoft.com

Minecraft developer Mojang Specifications will face Bethesda in court, over use of the word "scrolls."

Mojang is currently working on a new game called Scrolls, but Bethesda claims this infringes its Elder Scrolls trademark.

Company founder Markus Persson, better known as Notch, confirmed the news on his personal Twitter account earlier today.

"The Scrolls case is going to court! Weee!"

In early August Bethesda wrote a letter to Persson.

"Just got a letter from Bethesta's [sic] lawyers," he wrote on Twitter.

"They claim 'Scrolls' infringes on their trademark and everyone will confuse it with Skyrim."

Bethesda is also taking legal action against Interplay and Masthead over alleged copyright infringement, but the publisher has been denied a restraining order.

10 Comments

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,243 401 0.3
I'm still not clear on this. Surely "Scrolls" cannot infringe on Bethesda's trademark "Elder Scrolls" any more than a film called lion would infringe on "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". Surely Bethesda would need to have trademarked the two words independently to hold weight?

Also, I really don't see how suing an indie darling on such a shaky position is at all positive to their image?

I do see why they needed to block Mojang being granted the Scrolls Trademark themselves, in order to avoid problems in the future, but they surely don't need to defend a TM they presumably don't actually own?

Maybe a lawyer could clarify.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Craig Watkins
Studying Game Design Course

2 0 0.0
I know that the law is 90% a shady, grey area but like Andrew I don't understand how the word scrolls infringes on a trademark "Elder Scrolls". Then again I got no knowledge of law or copyrighting and I guess Bethesda's lawyers must have some grounds to be able to take it to court.

I guess we will have to see how this pans out.

Posted:2 years ago

#2
I think the argument is either they have trademarked Scrolls as well as "Elder Scrolls" or that "Elder Scrolls" is such a well known brand that if a consumer saw a game simply called Scrolls they may confuse it with "Elder Scrolls".

Therefore the perceived size of the "Elder Scrolls" brand matters in this case as it would directly influence the perception of the consumer.

All they would have to do is argue that.

Posted:2 years ago

#3
They dont really have a case, but they have deepr pockets. Chances are its a case of which team of solicitors are savvy and smart enough toncrush thebopposition, and there is also the path of apahy wherby dragging out. Case over years can result in closure of the opposition in both mind, body and " letter of the spurious laws"

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,243 401 0.3
Ok given that size argument, whilst the Elder scrolls as a series has a large following, it blew up at oblivion, and I know quite a few people who had never heard of the series prior to Oblivion, forget it's called Elder Scrolls IV oblivion, and have seen some people on forums say they were looking forward to Oblivion 5: Skyrim. On that basis, I would argue that a lot of fans wouldn't notice if Elder Scrolls wasn't on the box, as long asthey know it is the sequel to that game.

So how big really is the name "Elder Scrolls" if not every one who has played it knows that they did? Even with Morrowwind people generally only refer to the series when talking about more than one game in the series collectively.

So the size argument seems a bit stretched, although obviously that is not my call to make.
If they have Scrolls trademarked that is an issue, but if that is the case, then all reports I have seen have been misrepresented, as they all just refer to the Elder Scrolls trademark.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Jason Sartor
Copy editor/Videographer

104 33 0.3
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe vs. The Lion King!

Which Lion comes out on top on the jungle and which wins in court?

Only to find that Lionsgate films is the only company that can use Lion in a movie.

And Lionheart still loses because it is a Jean-Claude van Damme movie.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Mark Gilbert
Games Designer

14 0 0.0
Off Topic a little here: I guess they didn't take him up on the offer of a Quake 3 Shootout tournament to decide the fate.

OT: I think this is similar to other recent lawsuits that seem trivial at best. If you own an IP you have to be seen to defend it in all cases of possible misuse otherwise in the future it can be used against you in court along the lines of "you didn't defend it then, why now?".

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,243 401 0.3
@Mark. The problem being, if they don't actually own "Scrolls", they don't have to be seen defending a TM they don't own and can't lose.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Gareth Sharp
freelance reviewer / beta tester

8 0 0.0
this is as rediculous as the constant firing off of lawsuits over patent infringement by apple

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Jeff Wilson

46 0 0.0
I know a simple solution....instead of 'Scrolls' just call the game 'Elder'

Posted:2 years ago

#10

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