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Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM

The Word of Notch has word from the creator of Minecraft (which people dig so much it just enjoyed its three millionth sale) that in spite of his optimism when he was contacted by Bethesda's lawyers, Mojang is now being sued by Bethesda over their plans to title their upcoming game Scrolls based on the belief it infringes on The Elder Scrolls. Expressing his ongoing love for Bethesda and his continuing suspicion this "nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers," he discusses his views on the situation, and here's a bit:

The implication that you could own the right to all individual words within a trademark is also a bit scary. 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.

I assume this is all some more or less automated response to us applying for the trademark. I sincerely hope Bethesda isn’t pulling a Tim Langdell.

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77 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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77. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 9, 2011, 23:37 Sepharo
 
Closed Betas wrote on Aug 9, 2011, 22:29:
No that's wrong, An independent, means your a developer without a publisher.. Valve now owns him, so Valve is a publisher for him, thus NO LONGER INDY.. Of course they'll play this underdog story out as long as they can get away with it

Do you think Valve owns Notch, or are you talking about someone else? Can't really tell here.
 
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76. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 9, 2011, 22:35 Closed Betas
 
Bethesda is going to bite off their own foot here..
The problem with Bethesda thinking is going to backfire.. See the key here is that Bethesda game name is "The Elder Scrolls". This puts mass emphasis on a certain type of scroll (Elder), and therefore anything not related to this Elder period has absolutely no meaning or confliction.. It was Bethesda's main problem from the start, and now others will learn about it.

It's like Red Sox and White Sox, they're both sox, and go ahead be the Blue Sox... nothing the other Sox can do about it..

This will lead to other companies now massively abusing the scrolls term.. (the backfire) and the beginning of the death of Bethesda, which already is doing a great job self destructing themselves.

 
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75. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 9, 2011, 22:29 Closed Betas
 
No that's wrong, An independent, means your a developer without a publisher.. Valve now owns him, so Valve is a publisher for him, thus NO LONGER INDY.. Of course they'll play this underdog story out as long as they can get away with it  
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74. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 8, 2011, 12:53 ASeven
 
briktal wrote on Aug 8, 2011, 09:11:
Razumen wrote on Aug 6, 2011, 17:05:
DDI wrote on Aug 6, 2011, 17:02:
Pretty sure he's not indie if he's making multiple games and has sold over 3 million copies.

Sure he is, no one but Notch owns his company or his IPs, I'd say that qualifies as being independent.

Just because they're a successful Indie company doesn't make them less Indie.

Sometimes there's a difference between being independent and being "indie." "Indie" often implies to some degree a smaller company, less popular, not a lot of money or other resources, etc.

Nope. Indie has a ton of definitions, being filthy rich doesn't enter any of them. Being indie is about breaking away from mainstream publishers, values and strategy and following without compromise your idea. If you happen to get rich in the process, congrats, but as long as you follow through with your own ideas and not be helped by outside sources like publishers, you are indie.
 
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73. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 8, 2011, 09:11 briktal
 
Razumen wrote on Aug 6, 2011, 17:05:
DDI wrote on Aug 6, 2011, 17:02:
Pretty sure he's not indie if he's making multiple games and has sold over 3 million copies.

Sure he is, no one but Notch owns his company or his IPs, I'd say that qualifies as being independent.

Just because they're a successful Indie company doesn't make them less Indie.

Sometimes there's a difference between being independent and being "indie." "Indie" often implies to some degree a smaller company, less popular, not a lot of money or other resources, etc.
 
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72. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 21:44 creatorswhim
 
I'm going to wait until this gets thrown out of court before I make up my mind, but I'm ready to add Zenimax to the "publishers I do not buy from" list. I'm sure I'll miss Rage, but id has already taken enough money from me for two lifetimes.  
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71. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 16:23 ASeven
 
space captain wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 15:00:
ASeven wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 11:03:

Did I even say anywhere that Bethesda was right or wrong in this thread? Way to make wild assumptions, pal

you said "hes not that rich to go fight a publisher" and youre wrong because he is that rich, and also they have no case so it would be entirely ridiculous to not fight it

not very wild of an assumption imo, but carry on

You do know the fucked-up law in Sweden (they had a judge belonging to a copyright conglomerate preside thepiratebay case) is almost as bas as the US when it comes to trademarks and copyright, right? Hence unless notch quashes those fuckers right from the start expect a lenghthy, expensive judicial battle.

Trademark trolls must be destroyed honestly. And I do hope notch quashes them at the start and make them pay for the judicial expenses.

 
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70. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 15:43 Data
 
Take notice of all the creative name makers this "gaming industry" has. Games titles that use (dark, darkness, rising, falling, call of, Legend) Put them in a pit with swords and lions. This suing based off of name is exactly what dull people with dull jobs do, turn nothing into something.  
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69. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 15:00 space captain
 
ASeven wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 11:03:

Did I even say anywhere that Bethesda was right or wrong in this thread? Way to make wild assumptions, pal

you said "hes not that rich to go fight a publisher" and youre wrong because he is that rich, and also they have no case so it would be entirely ridiculous to not fight it

not very wild of an assumption imo, but carry on
 
Go forth, and kill!
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68. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 14:28 WaltC
 
DDI wrote on Aug 6, 2011, 22:24:
Uhm, are you guys familiar with the trademark lawsuit between Apple Corps and Apple Computers. It had been mostly settled but then flaired up because Apple Computers started selling electronic music which Apple Corps felt was an infringment on their mark.

Back when Apple Computer was strictly a computer company, the Beatles penned an agreement with Apple Computer allowing use of the word "Apple" in relation to their computer business, with the strict understanding that if Apple Computer ever at any time "entered the music business" (in any way, shape, or form) that Apple Computer would lose its trademark right to use the word "Apple" from then on. When Apple introduced the iPod & iTunes it "entered the music business" and broke the original agreement and the Beatles promptly sued. Apple paid the Beatles a cool $50M to continue use the word "Apple" from that point forward. Steve Jobs made his now-classic remark about how he meant only to "pay tribute" to the Beatles by ripping off their trademark...:D

You can claim you have superior logic but it's false. They are both video games with similar names, Bethesda is within their right to defend their mark. In fact, they must defend their mark or else they lose it. For example, Xerox brought back their trademark from the brink of oblivion; everyone says photocopy instead of xerox now due to their aggressive defense of their mark.

You guys can whine and moan about how you think its unfair that poor little rich indie guy who made one game you like is being picked on but Bethesda is required to defend their mark.

Unlike between Apple Computer and the Beatles, Mojang had no agreement with Bethesda allowing it to use the word "scrolls" until such time as Mojang used it in order to sell computer games...;) Indeed, the phrase "The Elder Scrolls" is what Bethesda has trademarked with respect to the title of some of its computer games. If Mojang wants to trademark "scrolls" with respect to the title of some of its computer games, and Bethesda disagrees, then Bethesda will have to prove to a judge that consumers are easily confused by a game title of "Scrolls" and a game title of "The Elder Scrolls," and that most consumers would believe when purchasing "Scrolls" by Mojang that they were instead buying "The Elder Scrolls" by Bethesda.

Yes, generally speaking a company is compelled to protect its trademarks by way of litigation when necessary. However, nowhere is it written or implied that fomenting a suit that is not likely to succeed is necessary for protecting one's trademark.

Should a judge rule that there is no reason to believe that consumers are likely to confuse "Scrolls" with "The Elder Scrolls," then the result is exactly the same for Bethesda that it would have been had Bethesda never sued Mojang: Bethesda retains a trademark for the phrase "The Elder Scrolls" as it pertains to the title of some of Bethesda's computer games, and Mojang retains a trademark for "Scrolls" as it pertains to the title of some of Mojang's computer games. Bethesda would have spared itself quite a bit of superfluous legal fees, too, while retaining its trademark, had it not sued Mojang in the first place.

Speaking of Apple, this reminds me of Apple suing Amazon over the phrase "App Store" in the larger phrase "Amazon App Store." Apple says that consumers will be confused by the Amazon trademark "Amazon App Store" and will think they are buying from Apple, instead of Amazon. The judge has already informed Apple that one of its so-far-unmet burdens of proof relative to a successful trademark infringement case against Amazon is proving that consumers are likely to confuse the "Apple App Store" with the "Amazon App Store". The judge has stated that Apple hasn't done this yet--at all.

If Apple cannot do that, and at this stage it appears Apple cannot, then Apple might as well not have bothered to sue Amazon in the first place, as having unsuccessfully sued another company for protection of your trademark has no effect on the mark at all, either pro or con. You have, however, wasted a lot of time and money on a superfluous, bogus effort, and accomplished little save for making some lawyers smile as they fattened their wallets. Nothing wrong with a company being prudent as to whom it sues and why, and taking a losing battle to court does nothing to strengthen your hold on the trademarks you already have.






 
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It is well known that I do not make mistakes--so if you should happen across a mistake in anything I have written, be assured that I did not write it!
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67. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 14:21 Nucas
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 06:53:
Tim Langdell tried to do that with anything that had "Edge" in the title and he got laughed out of court.

Courts will acknowledge cases that involve blatant copyright infringement but they aren't going to defend frivolous copyright lawsuits for commonly used words.

to be fair that only just happened, after at least a decade of langdell making a decent living as a trademark troll. edge magazine had to pay him a "licensing fee" for their name, for example.
 
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66. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 13:47 Bhruic
 
Hell, there's even an iOS game that's straight-up called "Hitman." If your belief was accurate, there would be a lot more people getting sued right now.

Frankly, that's surprising. But in this, at least, I'm happy to be proven wrong.

If Mojang tried to sue Bethesda for using the word "Scrolls," I'm pretty sure Bethesda could just point out that they trademarked "The Elder Scrolls" over 10 years ago and have released many games under that name since then. They could also point out that their games are called "The Elder Scrolls" and not just "Scrolls." Finally, they could point out that the word "scrolls" is commonly used within the context of fantasy fiction. Mojang's lawyer would have a hard time convincing the judge that his claims are legitimate.

True enough, I wasn't really arguing the potential success either way. I was pointing out what may have influenced Zenimax's thinking. Even if they were worried, I think they'd have done better to negotiate, rather than go down the lawsuit route.
 
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65. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 12:27 Data
 
Zenimax wants to suckle the tit.

 
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64. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 11:03 ASeven
 
space captain wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 10:15:
ASeven wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 06:58:
Well regardless of the outcome this is the classic giant bullying the little guy. It doesn't matter how rich is notch, he's not that rich to go fight a publisher.

bullshit - of course it matters... if he is going to spend 20 million on a court case, he is easily rich enough to fight a publisher.. money is money and bethesda wont drop that much over a trademark dispute as ridiculous as this

you are incredibly naive to think bethesda even has a leg to stand on in this dispute in the first place... its not the american legal system we are talking about here

Did I even say anywhere that Bethesda was right or wrong in this thread? Way to make wild assumptions, pal. FYI I am of your opinion, Bethesda has no leg to stand here and I'm extremely anti-copyright, anti-patent and anti-trademark laws the way they are written today. I was talking about people's perception of this, they see a giant fighting a little guy, regardless of notch being that little or not.
 
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63. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 10:15 space captain
 
ASeven wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 06:58:
Well regardless of the outcome this is the classic giant bullying the little guy. It doesn't matter how rich is notch, he's not that rich to go fight a publisher.

bullshit - of course it matters... if he is going to spend 20 million on a court case, he is easily rich enough to fight a publisher.. money is money and bethesda wont drop that much over a trademark dispute as ridiculous as this

you are incredibly naive to think bethesda even has a leg to stand on in this dispute in the first place... its not the american legal system we are talking about here
 
Go forth, and kill!
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62. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 09:55 Beelzebud
 
If you find yourself arguing in favor of Bethesda here, you are part of the problem, and why gaming has become a watered down, corporate-friendly crap-fest. Congratulations. Go buy more horse armor.  
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61. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 08:03 Jerykk
 
Not having seen them do it doesn't mean they couldn't. And how many of those are ever used in other game titles anyway? Where's another game that's used "Hitman", or "Mafia", or "Gothic"?

Look them up on Metacritic. I think you'll be surprised. There are a ton of mobile and/or social games that use those words. Hell, there's even an iOS game that's straight-up called "Hitman." If your belief was accurate, there would be a lot more people getting sued right now.

That has nothing to do with how successful his lawsuits would have been if he'd had them validly.

I suspect the end result would have been the same. If Mojang tried to sue Bethesda for using the word "Scrolls," I'm pretty sure Bethesda could just point out that they trademarked "The Elder Scrolls" over 10 years ago and have released many games under that name since then. They could also point out that their games are called "The Elder Scrolls" and not just "Scrolls." Finally, they could point out that the word "scrolls" is commonly used within the context of fantasy fiction. Mojang's lawyer would have a hard time convincing the judge that his claims are legitimate.
 
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60. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 07:17 Bhruic
 
Except there are lots of games with single-word titles. Doom, Quake, Rage, Dirt, Grid, Shift, Thief, Pirates, Dungeons, Prey, Driver, Gothic, Risen, Blur, Burnout, GUN, Hitman, PURE, Portal, Prototype, Tribes, Mafia, etc. You don't see their respective trademark owners suing other people/companies for using those words in their titles.

Not having seen them do it doesn't mean they couldn't. And how many of those are ever used in other game titles anyway? Where's another game that's used "Hitman", or "Mafia", or "Gothic"?

Tim Langdell tried to do that with anything that had "Edge" in the title and he got laughed out of court.

He got laughed out of court because it was demonstrated that he'd been lying in an attempt to keep his trademarks. He ended up losing those trademarks. That has nothing to do with how successful his lawsuits would have been if he'd had them validly.
 
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59. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 07:00 ASeven
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 7, 2011, 06:53:
Tim Langdell tried to do that with anything that had "Edge" in the title and he got laughed out of court.

Courts will acknowledge cases that involve blatant copyright infringement but they aren't going to defend frivolous copyright lawsuits for commonly used words.

Exactly. But people will hate minecraft for whatever petty reasons. Ah well, haters gonna hate.
 
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58. Re: Bethesda Sues Mojang Over Scrolls TM Aug 7, 2011, 06:58 ASeven
 
Well regardless of the outcome this is the classic giant bullying the little guy. It doesn't matter how rich is notch, he's not that rich to go fight a publisher. In the end, regardless of notch winning or losing, the indie community will grow a lot more. It's human nature to side with the little guys after all.  
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