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Bethesda lawyers target Minecraft dev's use of 'Scrolls' for next title

Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has received a letter from Bethesda, claiming that his next game "Scrolls" infringes on the trademark for "The Elder Scrolls."

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Bethesda has issued a letter to Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson's company, Mojang, claiming that the title of their next game, Scrolls, infringes on Bethesda's own trademark for The Elder Scrolls. Specifically, the statement claims that people will confuse it with the upcoming RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The news came from Persson himself, who tweeted about the letter earlier this morning. Bethesda has not publicly commented on the legal claim.

Persson has since shown a photo of the 15-page document, and offered some kind words towards Bethesda. "I still <3 Bethesda," he said. "This is hopefully just lawyers being lawyers." He later reiterated, "Again, to be clear, the devs at Bethesda are cool people! This is their lawyers. They're a very big company now."

In a blog post, he elaborated that this began months ago when Mojang began speaking with Bethesda, after applying for a trademark for Scrolls.

"The implication that you could own the right to all individual words within a trademark is also a bit scary," he said. "We looked things up and realized they didn't have much of a case, but we still took it seriously. Nothing about Scrolls is meant to in any way derive from or allude to their games. We suggested a compromise where we'd agree to never put any words in front of 'Scrolls', and instead call sequels and other things something along the lines of 'Scrolls - The Banana Expansion'. I'm not sure if they ever got back to us with a reply to this.

"Today, I got a 15 page letter from some Swedish lawyer firm, saying they demand us to stop using the name Scrolls, that they will sue us (and have already paid the fee to the Swedish court), and that they demand a pile of money up front before the legal process has even started," he continued. "I assume this is all some more or less automated response to us applying for the trademark."

If the letter is simply a legal formality, it's possible that Bethesda is simply going through the necessary steps to prove that it attempted to stop trademark dilution. The threat of a suit and request for payment, though, could imply more serious stakes.

Shacknews has contacted Bethesda regarding the letter, but has not received a reply as of the time of publishing.

Editor-In-Chief

From The Chatty

  • reply
    August 5, 2011 11:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Bethesda lawyers target Minecraft dev's use of 'Scrolls' for next title.

    Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has received a letter from Bethesda, claiming that his next game "Scrolls" infringes on the trademark for "The Elder Scrolls."

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 11:54 AM

      Trademarks really should only be applicable to the entire phrase, though I understand why in some circumstances that's just not enough.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 11:55 AM

      The attack dogs should probably be held onto until Bethesda clarifies whether or not this is legit or just a rogue lawyer who doesn't really even understand video games.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 12:29 PM

      hurry activision copy right the word "Call" so you can sue

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 12:57 PM

        they are already hurriedly writing a letter for the use of *craft. People might confuse it as a blizzard game.

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 1:06 PM

          Looks like Zynga will have to change the name of their current project, Craftville.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 1:21 PM

        Call is already established in other games, "Call of Cthulhu," for example, which I'm pretty sure came out prior to CoD.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 12:44 PM

      is there anything original about Bethesda's completely generic fantasy world to begin with? you think people who live in glass houses wouldn't be throwing stones all the sudden.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 12:54 PM

      Luckily he is probably the one indie developer than can afford to defend himself against things like this if he really wants to.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 5:15 PM

        This is probably the most important point in all this.

        Less financially sound companies have no choice but to yeild to whatever patently absurd claim that is made against them purely because they dont have the funds to fight it.

        Yes, Notch can survive this and win, and yes he can get get back any costs from Bethesda's lawyers, but it's not the point - many cant afford the initial proceedings.

        Dick move by Bethesda. And if it is just a matter of their legal team doing something on initiative, then Bethesda should look into finding a better firm - they don't need the customer backlash these cowboys will cause.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 1:01 PM

      "Scrolls - The Banana Expansion" LOL!

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 1:14 PM

      The what? I guess Mojang should try renaming it to The Elder then.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 1:42 PM

        Pliny the Elder: Scrolls for the Rim of the Sky.

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 2:08 PM

          Greetings from the Lawyers for Russian River Brewing Company - We kindly ask you discontinue the use of "Pliny the Elder" as it infringes on our Beer.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 1:49 PM

        He should rename it Bethesda and set it in a fantasy version of Maryland.

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 2:02 PM

          Hah.
          In a related story, just across the street from where I live (and about 10 minutes from Mojang AB's offices) there's a baby clothing/toy store named Mojang.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 6:13 PM

        World of Angry Scrolls Edge CraftVille.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 3:13 PM

      Wait. I'm a gamer. I'm confused. You mean, Scrolls is different from Elder Scrolls is different from Patches Scrolls is different from Lost Scrolls is different The Dead Sea Scrolls Game. They aren't the same? They aren't made from the exact same company? How can that be? They ALL have the word Scroll in them! OH THE HUMANI... bleh....

      This better be one for the epic fail column.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 3:45 PM

      Doctors heal, Architects build, Attorneys are parasitic and contribute NOTHING except interpretation of laws and criminal defense, the rest could die and we'd only be better for it. Bethsofts full time legal dept. needs to justify their existence so they go after an entrepreneur who is well within his rights to use the name. The "moron in a hurry" test works here. The ONLY entity that will benefit from this action will be the attorneys. They are scum.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 4:14 PM

        What happens when the doctors leave an instrument in you or an architect designs a building in a negligent manner?

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 4:56 PM

          clearly the doctor needs his life ruined to pass on the cost of malpractice insurance to all his patients

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 5:17 PM

          You end up with a bar exam question. B.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 5:16 PM

        Say that when you need one.

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 7:16 PM

          Bullseye.

          The only people who hate lawyers are those who haven't yet had need of one.

          • reply
            August 5, 2011 7:58 PM

            You need one because the other side has one. That doesn't make them more likeable....

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 6:28 PM

        Makes me want to pursue a law career again.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 8:14 PM

        Interpretation of laws and criminal defense sounds important.

        • reply
          August 6, 2011 10:40 AM

          right, thats why I listed them as exceptions. I understand the need for attorneys but the fact is that we've allowed the profession far too much leeway to the point where we now have to make medical decisions based not on whats best for the patient but what will be the least risky in terms of potential litigation. Copyright law is being abused by large groups of attorneys who become patent trolls. They buy up tech patents for the express purpose of finding companies whose products violate said patents and sue for infringement. How does this help promote innovation? Their lobby is pushing the protectIP act which will allow the entertainment industry to fine down loaders after 5 incidents without a hearing and no interventions by the courts all based on ones IP address.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 4:14 PM

      Minecraft-dev has already won his case; the idea of copyrighting individual words is ridiculous.

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 4:37 PM

        This is a trademark delusion claim, it has nothing to do with copyrights.

        The biggest thing going against Bethesda here is that most consumers probably know their games based on the main portion of the title, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls subheading is a pretty minor aspect of the name as to recognition.

        As stated above, companies have to, from time to time, pursue enforcement of marks or else they might either fall victim to genericide or developing secondary meanings that the company might not want to have happen.

        • reply
          August 5, 2011 5:09 PM

          Considering Bethesda doesn't even have a trademark on just the word Scrolls I don't see how they are going to win. Their trademark is on "The Elder Scrolls".

          • reply
            August 5, 2011 6:52 PM

            Well, when you have Apple arguing that App = Apple, and it hasn't been thrown out yet... who can say where this is heading?

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 5:08 PM

      This is such a stupid lawsuit. Waste of time & resources.

    • reply
      August 5, 2011 6:55 PM

      I wonder why the lawyers got pissed over the word "scrolls" specifically, it's probably been used in countless titles, in various entertainment industries, and it's very generic. I doubt that anyone could realistically expect to win a case like this.

      • reply
        August 6, 2011 12:45 AM

        It matters when used in the same industry/category where confusion may arise. For example, I can't publish an OS called Windows, but I might be able to sell a bag of tissues called Windows.

        • reply
          August 6, 2011 4:37 AM

          So what kind of moron would be confused by this? He isn't calling it "The Older Scrolls". They them self even refer to the game as "Skyrim" and not "elder scrolls".

    • reply
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    • reply
      August 5, 2011 8:34 PM

      so I guess Blizzard could also sue them for their use of "craft" ?

      • reply
        August 5, 2011 8:39 PM

        Compound word Warcraft/Starcraft