Mojang Can Still Use ‘Scrolls’ For Now

By Jim Rossignol on October 18th, 2011 at 8:36 am.

Will we still be using this logo in a year's time?
Notch tweets: “We won the interim injunction! We can keep using the name “Scrolls”. ZeniMax/Bethesda can still appeal the ruling, but I’m very happy.”

Of course this is only the first step, and we expect Bethesda will certainly take the process to its conclusion at a full trial.

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144 Comments »

  1. Gormongous says:

    Well, if I understand Bethesda’s claims, this process shouldn’t last too much longer. They’ve attempted to defend their trademark, that’s all they need to keep it from lapsing. Continuing to dog Notch shouldn’t be necessary, right?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      They are protecting themselves against IP dilution – I doubt this will be quick or over soon. They are not just doing the bare minimum to protect their trademark, they are actively defending their most valuable asset

    • Gormongous says:

      I dare you to find one person outside the Bethesda legal team who sees the “Elder Scrolls” trademark as their most valuable asset, but point taken. I am just chary of Bethesda’s assurances that their hand is entirely forced on this matter, and will be watching the proceedings with interest.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I’m sorry, but in your opinion, what is Bethesda’s most valuable IP? If you’re going to argue that an IP isn’t the most valuable asset a company, especially one in the computer games industry, can own then what do you believe can make them more money? Their games sell because of the IP – would as many people who bought Oblivion have done so without the Eldar Scrolls label and history, background etc?

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      Just the fact that you just spelled “Elder Scrolls” incorrectly underlines the fact that, while the IP can be collected under it, “The Elder Scrolls” is just some completely irrelevant mumbojumbo that loosely connects some very good, renowned and successful games.

    • Avenger says:

      Lawyer-minded people will find things like this valuable and worth discussing.
      With all the progress they made on developing and marketing the game, I think the it would sell just as much with a name like “The Ender Rolls: Skyward” anyway.

      Remember that there are some good and successful titles that settled on a different name right before launch.

    • mejoff says:

      Yeah, you made a typo, your point is invalid!

    • Schiraman says:

      Gah, reply fail.

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      neofit says:

      Guys, re-read this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/08/bethesda-and-notchs-scrolls-off-explained. Bethesda are not trying to “dog Notch” or whatever for the fun of it, they are trying to prevent that freaking genius from pulling a tim langdell on them and trademark the word “Scrolls”.

    • Avenger says:

      Assuming it is true that Notch has agreed to change the name before the court date was set, any comparison between Notch and Langdell is pure paranoid fiction.

      No company would survive the community retribution after pulling off something like that, not even a community as dedicated as Mojang’s.

      Heads. would. roll.

    • Blackseraph says:

      Neofit.

      You’re bit mistaken here, Bethesda has trademarked the elder scrolls, they have no rights for the word scrolls. Therefore they are acting like Langdell here, not Mojang. Besides have offered to withdraw trademark application.

      Besides The Elder Scrolls is not bethesdas most valuable asset, no one ever calls these games the elder scrolls, but by their subtitle. Besides their most valuable ip by far is fallout.

      I agree that this has damaged bethesda and Zenimax but it is their own damn fault, they shouldn’t start throwing around frivolous lawsuits. Personally I am glad that Mojang have enough money to defend themselves here, and not be pullied by a lawsuit to do what bigger company wants them to, which would have happened if any other indie developer would have been sued.

    • Unaco says:

      Blackseraph

      You’re bit mistaken here, Mojang tried to trademark scrolls, not just for videogames, but for multiple mediums and areas, which would have had an impact on The Elder Scrolls trademark, in the future or if Beth looked to branch out. Therefore Mojang are acting like Langdell here, not Bethesda, trying to trademark the single word “Scrolls” for a whole slew of different things. Bethesda had no problem when the name was announced… only when the trademark application was submitted.

      When referring to an individual game, most people probably refer to the subtitle, although not always… look at the Tags on this very site, before this whole thing started… the games have always been tagged “The Elder Scrolls X: Subtitle”. But when referring to multiple games the term “The Elder Scrolls series” or “The Elder Scrolls games” or TES Games/Series are quite often used.

      I agree this is probably damaging to Mojang, but it is their own damn fault… they could have paid a lawyer for a few hours work and known that trying to trademark scrolls would have caused them a whole load of hassle. Personally, I’m glad that Bethesda are pursuing this, but are remaining classy about it, unlike Mojang who seems to be using their status as ‘indie’ to try and paint Beth/Zenimax as worse than they are.

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      frymaster says:

      @unaco:

      When this all blew up, Mojang offered to withdraw the trademark application, and change the game’s name from Scrolls to Scrolls:Some kind of subtitle. That kind of scuppers any “Bethesda’s hand was forced” arguments.

    • MisterT says:

      @frymaster
      “offering” to do something doesn’t fly. You drop the application, THEN the lawyers may drop their suit, not the other way around. All notch saying he offered to do that was convince some people he’s this humble underdog being harassed by EVUL CORPORATIONS!!1

    • Blackseraph says:

      Unaco

      Langdell was known for throwing around frivolous lawsuit for names that were in anyway close to his trademarked names. Mojang has done nothing of the sort, so you can’t compare the two.

      And believe it or not it is more than likely after this injunction that Mojang is going to win here in the end.

      This first injunction have very low requirements for probable grounds for trademark infringement, and since it didn’t go through it doesn’t seem very likely that would go on later when requirements for trademark infringement would be higher. And even less likely since it is perfectly possible that this case would be ruled long after Scrolls would be released.

    • ITSSEXYTIME says:

      I don’t think the Eldar Scrolls name is what sold Oblivion at all, and I don’t think it’s what is going to sell Skyrim either.

      Doesn’t mean the IP isn’t important, but the vast majority of people who play Eldar Scrolls today have not played the early entries in the series, hell most of them probably haven’t even played Morrowind.

    • Kent says:

      This is not about protecting their trademark anymore. I think Zenimax’s lawyers are trying to coerce money out of Mojang. And I don’t think any employee in Bethesda is even involved because this sounds like something a silent parent company would do, not a development team.

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      bear912 says:

      Silent parent companies are always evil.

  2. Captchist says:

    I’ve never heard the Elder Scrolls referred to with the abbreviation “Scrolls” so I don’t really see why Bethesda are contesting this.

    I understand that the purpose of the legal system isn’t to presume the answer but to go through the process, but it’s a rather expensive process. And I understand that Bethesda have to defend their trademark in order to keep it, but does that really mean suing everybody who tries to use something even vaguely approaching it, because that’s hugely damaging to small business startups if they are hit with a “not really serious, just defending our trademark” lawsuit right off the bat.
    If you weren’t somebody who had already developed Minecraft and had a bunch of money this whole process would be rather prohibitively expensive.

    I don’t blame Bethesda if they are just defending their trademark, but I think it’s a daft system if defending it requires essentially frivolous lawsuits. System working as intended, or should never have happened?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Whenever an IP becomes successful or popular, in any walk of life, there are hundreds if not thousands of people willing to exploit their success in order to make money for themselves. They often do this by using similar products with similar names, not usually a deliberate attempt to deceive the customer but usually a deliberate attempt to clearly reference the successful IP – for example: Star Wars – Space Balls.

      Now consider that Eldar Scrolls is Bethesda’s most valuable IP, by a long way. If they allow people to release games unopposed with similar sounding names, they are allowing the value of their IP to be eroded. Now you may argue that this case is wrong – there’s very little morality in business. If scrolls were to become a major success, then we have two similar named IP’s sharing value in their names. I’m sure you believe that people wouldn’t confuse the two and you’re probably correct, but people will still devalue both brands in their minds. There is plenty of brand psychologists who can bring scientific evidence to support this. Why do you think in the UK, Marathon changed it’s name to Snickers – a distinctive name is worth more than a generic name.

      Whether Bethesda wins or loses, they are absolutely right to defend their assets.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Yeah, but Scrolls isn’t one of their assets. The Elder Scrolls is. That’s very different, and there’s no way to confuse the two.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, that’s the entire ‘common sense’ argument here. Lucasfilm/Lucasarts own ‘Star Wars’. They don’t go around threatening the guy that made the ‘Stars’ games, or anything with ‘Wars’ in the title.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Jesus, you’re not going to use Lucas as an example of how lawsuits should be done right are you? He tried to sue digg.com because Lucas Arts published a game called The Dig, He sued Starballz, He sued Dr Dre for a clip used in one of his songs (Dr Dre being an absolute crusader for copyright law)

      He even tried to sue the white house over the Starwars defence system!

    • Dominic White says:

      And presumably lost, given that those things are still around. Further highlighting just how ridiculous Bethesda are being here.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Hehe, what do they say assumptions are the mother of…

      No, he didn’t lose them all – Digg settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, Starballz were ordered to pay $140 million, he lost against the white house and I can’t find the Dre result, which would indicate an out of court settlement

    • Avenger says:

      So, if G. Lucas did it, it must be an industry standard…

      Alright. Frivolous and baseless lawsuits it is. Perhaps I should invest in a law firm, considering at this rate, they will get more money than publishers or studios ever would…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      It’s called becoming a partner, not many law firms are publically traded! And yes, by the time you would be in a position to become a partner, you would be very, very rich – best of luck to you!

    • skurmedel says:

      Sadly you would probably burn in hell in all eternity. But you would be rich.

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      Hanban says:

      Does anyone know if Blizzard is jumping on wargaming.net for “World of Warplanes”? Switch out ‘planes’ for ‘craft’ and you’ve got their number one earner there…

      After some googling I cannot find anything showing off Actiblizzard suing them for World of Tanks and World of Warplanes. Aren’t these more severe infringements, I mean, more words match up adding more confusion as to if you’re gonna see orcs in warplanes(We have Warhammer 40k for that). Why aren’t they protecting their IP here?

  3. jti says:

    The purpose of the legal system in this case seems to be about making lawyers rich, nothing more. I don’t think there is a single gamer in the world who has mistakenly connected Scrolls with Elder Scrolls series. Oh well…

    • Avenger says:

      When I saw “4way scroll” on the package, I thought my new mouse was designed by Bedhesda.

      Not going to do that mistake again…

  4. simonh says:

    I just hope Bethesda will end up paying all of Mojang’s lawyer fees etc. if they lose, would be a shame if Mojang still lost money to this even after their victory. Does anyone know anything about that?

    • Syra says:

      Yes. In most trials if you win outright you are awarded legal fees along with whatever compensation you might require. In this case as Mojang have been flaunting the case to get publicity for their game, they don’t really deserve more that just the legal fees back. They already have twice the benefit of it in marketing..

    • Avenger says:

      I really hope you are joking, or suffering from a rare case of fanboyism.

      Who in the right mind would go “I hate Bedhesda, I will buy 2 or 3 more minecraft accounts, SUCK IT Zenimax!” ?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Avenger – go look at The Escapist – that’s where you will find people saying exactly that, but with more typos

    • Avenger says:

      I really want to say Bedhesda is better off without those people in its fan base, but money talks. So, no.

      Regardless, there will always be public a backlash from events like this. It was totally under Bedhesda’s control and they could have (and still can) swing it any way they like.

    • MisterT says:

      @Avenger
      And that’s exactly what notch wanted.

      I mean, you can argue he didn’t mean to, until you realize his offer in light of this was to change the trademark to “scrolls: (subtitle)”
      which looks A LOT more like “the elder scrolls: subtitle” if you ask me, compared to before

    • Captchist says:

      But I think the point here is – Mojang can afford to pay this, maybe. But it’s still expensive, a huge risk of a large amount of money if you get a freak decision against you, it’s a lot of time and effort in terms of filling out forms, discussing with lawyers, attending cases etc etc etc.

      Just because you are successful doesn’t mean law suits become blase. And it still doesn’t speak to the many many other people who might find themselves in this situation and don’t even have much money to defend themselves.

  5. adonf says:

    So they though that to justify their legal fees they could bully Mojang out of using this word that is vaguely-related to their RPG series, but they didn’t notice that Mojang had millions of euros in cash and was able to fight back unlike all other indie developers… In the words of Nelson Muntz: ha-ha!

    • Unaco says:

      No…Not at all. Mojang tried to trademark the word Scrolls… not just for videogames. It was a ~300 page list of different areas he wanted the trademark in. Beths lawyers, and the USPTO saw it and said “Scrolls is quite unique in video game naming, not like ‘Star’ or ‘Wars’ or anything quite common like that. Mojang trademarking ‘Scrolls’ could damage Beths IP if they don’t defend it”. So, they defended it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      You seem to be confusing their excuse for a just reason. Scrolls isn’t close enough to threaten the trademark.

    • vivlo says:

      @Unaco

      ” Mojang tried to trademark the word Scrolls… not just for videogames. It was a ~300 page list of different areas he wanted the trademark in. ”

      yes, because, as Notch stated, they wanted to do some stuff outside of videogames with scrolls, such as a tv series (?) or maybe just a card game (? again) or maybe action figures (? again, whatever do i know, but anyway, that sort of marketing plan is common in videogames industry)
      I don’t remember where i get that, maybe just on notch’s tumblr, at worst burried in his tweets.
      But anyway, that particular point shouldn’t bother Bethesda, unless they see themselves as defensers of the free world, because their problem is only about video games right ?

      “Scrolls is quite unique in video game naming, not like ‘Star’ or ‘Wars’ or anything quite common like that. ”

      Not really true, scrolls items in rpgs are fairly common. And i suspect there are many games with a “scroll” or “scrolls” in their name, apart from bethesda’s.

    • Unaco says:

      @Vivlo,

      What the f*ck does having scrolls as an item have to do with naming? Seriously, tell me what?

      If there are so many games with Scrolls in their titles, name some.

  6. Dzamir says:

    Beteshed sues Mojang for the use of the generic word “Scrolls” in a video game.
    Meanwhile publishes a videogame called “Rage”.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I’m sure if Atari feels their Primal Rage IP is being devalued they will take Bethesda to court – actually they already may have, we just don’t know because unlike Mojang, Bethesda conduct themselves professionally.

    • formivore says:

      Oh so if a lawsuit is going to seem ridiculous to the public at large, the “professional” thing is to keep it hush-hush because it will embarrass the lawyers involved. Mojang seem to be profiting in publicity quite nicely from this which seems like the right professional move to me.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Most lawsuits seem ridiculous to someone, just because you find this one riddiculous does not mean anything.

      The fact is, Mojang have been publicising this in order to gain support from their community, but this could be seen as an attempt to place consumer pressure on Bethesda to drop the case. This would of course be a contempt of court.

      And yes, if Mojang wish to be perceived as professional, they need to stop challenging Bethesda to games of quake to settle this.

    • UnravThreads says:

      formivore;
      Well, put it this way. Because Notch can’t keep his goddamn mouth shut, Bethesda have arguably had damages. Look at the comments here, look at the brain-dead dribble that’s coming out of the idiots over on The Escapist. “Oh no i wnt bye Skyrime now cuz befesda r suk!” or “I just lost respect for Bethesda for picking on the small guy, and I won’t buy their games now.” They’ve had their reputation tarnished, they’ve potentially lost sales and so forth, all because Notch can’t keep professional.

      Cases like this happen all the time, but you don’t hear about them because they’re done behind the scenes. It doesn’t matter if me, you or the RPS guys know the difference between TES and Scrolls, that’s irrelevant. This is legal wrangling, and it happens whether or not you or I agree with it. I’m sure Bethesda didn’t want to go to court over it, but if they have to in case their trademark is potentially weakened then what choice do they have?

    • Zorganist says:

      I think Mojang have the right to publicise the lawsuit, I don’t see it as being particularly unprofessional. They’re behaving in the way you would expect an indie developer to behave, and this lawsuit could potentially have a pretty big effect on the development of Scrolls, which their customers have a right to know about.

      Bethesda should have anticpated the fact that Notch would publicise the lawsuit, and they should have anticipated any damage in their reputation that would arise from suing a beloved indie developer. Mojang haven’t appeared at all embittered in their reporting of the case, aren’t strapped for cash by any means and appear to have been able to hire fairly good lawyers, it’s the fans and journalists who have decided the lawsuit is unecessary, and have it’s the fans and journalists who are seeing Bethesda as the evil corporation going after the underdog.

      Regardless, the ‘Scrolls’ part of the ‘The Elder Scrolls’ could be any word at all and it would make no difference. Scrolls are not important ot the story line in the same way we are led to believe that the scrolls in Scrolls are, and do not feature prominently, if they feature at all, in the gameplay. I wouldn’t be suprised if you could play through the entirety of Skyrim without encountering Scrolls at all, which I highly doubt would be possible with Scrolls. Had Mojang been making a fantasy RPG set in a snowy, mountainous world that heavily featured the killing of dragons, and had named it Scrolls, Bethesda would be considerably more justified in their case. As it is, considering the type of games that The Elder Scrolls and Scrolls are, and the size of Bethesda’s marketing and release strategy compared to Mojang, it does all seem a bit pointless.

    • Schiraman says:

      If the details of this lawsuit becoming public have tarnished Bethesda’s reputation, then perhaps they shouldn’t have initiated it. There’s nothing unprofessional about Notch/Mojang discussing the matter, unless they’re lying about something. If they are lying, then Bethesda are strangely quiet about it.

      Really, saying that damage to Bethesda’s reputation is Notch’s fault is like saying that BP’s reputation being damaged by it spilling oil everywhere was the fault of the journalists reporting it (or whoever first alerted them). How unprofessional! They should have kept quiet about the problem! ;)

    • UnravThreads says:

      Zorganist;
      It’s not to do with the inclusion of “scrolls” in-game, though. Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars doesn’t have a broken sword in it, so is the trademark less valuable? No, not at all.

      Bethesda’s series is The Elder Scrolls. The construction set is often referred to with the TES prefix, and the unknown games in the series also use that prefix in discussion. Before Skyrim was announced, it was simply TES V, or The Elder Scrolls V. That’s how everyone knew what it was. It’s irrelevant that we now refer to it now as Skyrim. Does GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony being referred to as TBoGT or just Gay Tony mean that the GTA bit is irrelevant? No, not at all.

      Bethesda shouldn’t have considered what Notch would do, because it’s between the legal teams of both companies, not between the staff themselves. Notch should have kept silent about it, because it does not involve his customers at all. It also would have minimal effect on Scrolls’ development, because really they’d just have to change the name and possibly a few assets. Bethesda have built a brand with The Elder Scrolls, whereas Notch has done bugger all. Heck, the only reason people know Scrolls this well is because of the lawsuit.

      What Notch has done is take a routine occurrence and spin it into a PR move to gain popularity and sympathy (whether he intended to do so or not), and he has in the process caused potential damages to Bethesda and to some people – myself included – caused damage to his own brand. I’m not going to buy Minecraft or Scrolls now because I don’t want someone so immature to get my money.

    • UnravThreads says:

      Schiraman;
      Have you considered that Bethesda didn’t have any choice? If they were told by the trademark authorities that they need to protect their trademark, then that is what they have to do and that is what they did. It’s not about taking Mojang down, it’s not about being dicks, it’s about protecting their products and brand.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Notch is openly allowing his community to slander Bethesda. No he does not have the right to do this, nor actually does he necessarily have the right to publicise a lawsuit against him. Saying that he is behaving in a way that you would expect an indie developer to behave is insulting to every other indie developer out there struggling to be taken seriously.

      It is Bethesda’s right to ask for a fair trial in this issue, why should this tarnish their reputation – Let me repeat the word fair! They aren’t putting pressure on Mojang by releasing statements about it to their community, nor are they challenging him to games to settle the case.

      You do understand there are people who work for Bethesda – artists, coders etc who’s jobs will disappear if Skyrim does not sell well enough. Those people may have children to feed, mortgages to pay etc. With people who do not understand the process threatening to not buy the game – though that is unlikely they will follow through, this is a massive dick move from Notch. He is well aware of what he is doing, he is carefully managing his community to try to make a big stink. Why is he doing this? He want’s support for his side. He is trying to influence the court case underhandedly and illegally – in my opinion.

      Oh and BP actually did something wrong, thats why their reputation is OK to tarnish. Bethesda have not done anything actually wrong!!!!

    • Schiraman says:

      If Bethesda really do have no choice about initiating this pointless lawsuit then that seems like all the more reason to publicise it. How can such a stupid system be reformed unless its stupidity is exposed to the public?

      If it’s really true that Bethesda have been forced into this situation, then I do feel sorry for them, but the majority of my sympathy remains with Mojang – who are being sued for no good reason – potentially costing them a lot of money and threatening the development of their game.

      Not only that: but what if this was a really small indie company being sued? Mojang can afford to fight this, but I bet most indie startups would have no choice but to fold and change the name of their game. Hardly seems fair, does it?

    • Zorganist says:

      @Unrav

      But Bethesda’s (or ZeniMax’s, as it really ought to be) argument for the lawsuit is that there will be consumer confusion between The Elder Scrolls and Scrolls, resulting in Bethesda/Zenimax losing money from people buying Scrolls, thinking it is an Elder Scrolls game.

      Whilst they have built a brand under The Elder Scrolls, most people nowadays are much more likely to refer to the games using just the subtitles (I’ve never heard anyone in real life call Oblivion ‘The Elder Scrolls IV’, just Oblivion) and they’re trying to sue on the basis of part of a trademark, which on its own is perfectly generic noun, being used to sell a game that bears almost no resemblance or relation to The Elder Scrolls, arguing that having Scrolls in the title will immediatley make people assume it is part of, or at least incredibly similar to, The Elder Scrolls series.

      Scrolls, on their own, are not a part of the brand image of The Elder Scrolls, and Scrolls, the Mojang game, does not resemble The Elder Scrolls series, it is a different genre, has a different art style and crucially, won’t be advertised and marketed in the same way as The Elder Scrolls. Where Skyrim will be advertised on television and the internet, and be on sale in retail stores, Scrolls will have next to no marketing, and be available on severely limited channels.

      To summise: Although Scrolls the word is part of ‘The Elder Scrolls’ trademark, scrolls the objects are not part of the brand image the trademark exists to protect. Scrolls, the Mojang game, will not acheive the same level of public awareness as The Elder Scrolls, and is a different enough genre and art style to be easily differentiated by the specialist audience who will be aware of it. Scrolls feature prominetly as part of the image of obscure indie game Scrolls, but not as part of the image of massive, publicly recognised series The Elder Scrolls. Therefore, no chance of consumer confusion, Mojang is jutsified in their use of Scrolls, lawsuit is unecessary.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars doesn’t have a broken sword in it, so is the trademark less valuable? No, not at all.”

      Why is this relevent to the discussion? No it doesn;t have abroken sword in it but this is nothing to do with the trademark and has nothign to do with trademark regulation in any way shape or form

      “Notch is openly allowing his community to slander Bethesda. No he does not have the right to do this, nor actually does he necessarily have the right to publicise a lawsuit against him.”

      I’m seeing a few logical leaps here (leaps into pits of spikes because they leaps in the wrong direction and mistimed, you must be good at mario!). No notch is not openly allowing his community to slander bethesda, he does not have control over said community as hes not got a mind control ray, he can influence and guide, not control.

      I believe he does have a right to say he is being sued unless they got him to sign something saying “you will not tell anyone i’m gonig to sue you” (in which I would tell them go screw themselves and tell people anyway, what would they do , sue me again) , you can say whatever the hell you want as long as you abide by any judges rulings and laws of the land (as its not a jury trial i think you can say what you want, but not a lawyer)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Zorganist can we assume you are a mojang employee as you seem to be so confident you know their marketing strategy?

      No-one seriously believes people will buy Scrolls thinking it is part of the Elder Scrolls series, however it is obvious that the unique identity of TES trademark will be eroded by another trademark being registered which shares a word.

    • Schiraman says:

      @Sheng-ji:

      You talk as if Notch somehow controls his fans, or the gaming community at large. People are angry with Bethesda – well Notch must have made them be angry! People are threatening to not buy Skyrim – Notch must have told them to do that!

      In fact the situation is quite a bit simpler. A lot of gamers, when they hear a big company is suing a little company over a nonsense issue like this, think “wow, that big company are a bunch of dicks!”. This thought process is beyond Notch’s control.

      In your opinion Bethesda are doing nothing wrong. Clearly a large number of gamers disagree rather strongly with your assessment. Seems to me that it’s better that we all know about the situation so we can debate the pros and cons, rather than this all happening behind closed doors with none of us any the wiser.

      As a result, I don’t see anything wrong with Mojang announcing that they’re being sued. Or with their semi-humorous suggestions as to how the situation could be resolved. A sense of humour is a good thing, and frankly big, faceless corporations like Zenimax could clearly do with a bit more humour in their lives. Not to mention honesty.

    • formivore says:

      I know nothing about the law, and I do personally try to defer to people who do, so I appreciate people’s clarifications. Maybe Mojang has received publicity from this in an undeserved manner. But it seems extreme to me to say that Notch is trying to influence the results of the court case with his statements. That is a serious charge no? How would he even go about doing this? Presumably Sweden’s court system has standards and isn’t going to be influenced by some anonymous comment in PCGamer magazine. Notch has repeatedly said he admires Bethesda, is looking forwards to Skyrim, etc. That hardly sounds like some kind of sub rosa command to his fan base to start slandering Bethesda.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I haven’t seen all his comments, however the one’s I have seen are quite inflammatory albeit under the veil of humour. And I refuse to believe he doesn’t see or understand how his comments are being used as a basis to slander Bethesda. He knows exactly what he’s doing, he’s very information aware.

      It doesn’t really matter how many gamers believe I’m wrong – there’s a reason we pay judges a lot of money to preside over cases – the public are mostly ignorant to the legal process. The fact of the matter is that this judge has decided both cases have merit – he hasn’t thrown the case out neither has he made Mojang change the name. We have to accept this no matter how passionately we believe one way or the other.

      And yes, I still think Notch is playing a dick move by doing this – I think he want’s to use the negative publicity to force Bethesda to drop the case. And yes, that is a very serious charge, which is why he needs to get a little bit more professional and take this seriously.

    • Avenger says:

      Please focus:

      Bedhesda…SUED…Mojang

      There is no walking around it, there is no “buts”, “should’ve”s in it.

      If you ATTACK somebody, you should expect them complain about it. If you don’t want people to take your legal strategy into reconsideration, THEN STOP SUEING PEOPLE !

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Yes, they brought a civil case against Mojang…. what’s your point

      They asked a judge to preside over a fair trial to resolve a dispute between the two companies… what’s your point

      They have asked Notch not to trademark the word Scrolls because they feel it devalues their trademark The Elder Scrolls but notch refused so they asked a judge to preside over a fair trial to make a decision one way or the other as to whether Mojang can trademark the word… What’s your point?

      Suing someone is not attacking them, I don’t know why you feel it’s an aggressive action – maybe because in your limited experience with the law, suing someone is shorthand for demanding money from someone for something. Or maybe you’ve also been suckered by Notches tweets on the subject into believing that this is something other than the defence of a trademark and thus quite nicely proving my point that notches posts are manipulating his audience.

      Maybe notch shouldn’t have tried to trademark the word scrolls, maybe by doing that he was attacking Bethesda and thus was the aggressor. No? He just wanted to call his game that and then big nasty Bethesda came along to stamp on his emo indie dreams? Well if you’re so happy to believe that, why wouldn’t you believe that Bethesda just want to protect themselves, their company and their trademark

    • danielfath says:

      You can manipulate people into siding with you without being blunt about it. For instance I remember a test trial during which an audience saw car breaking and hitting another (stationary) car going relatively slowly ~20-40 km/h (number was displayed on the side of the video). So when asked – “What speed was the car going?” – audience replied about 20-50km/h. When the question was “What speed was the ramming car going?” – audience replied about 60-100km/h. In fact some people even “remembered” there being fatalities, even though the video contained nothing similar.

      From what I’ve seen Mojang has been doing this a lot – First Notch, then the lawyer. Mojang and lawyers implied the thing wasn’t about money and that Bethedsa had ulterior motives.

    • Avenger says:

      Let me put it as briefly as possible.

      Are you assuming that, if it was not Notch, but Bethesda, who were to publicly announce “We are taking Mojang to court over our IP”, the community would act differently?

      Do you think people would sympathize with Bethesda’s point of view in that case?

      People are reacting to the FACT, not to the person who conveys that fact.

      Some company is taking a legal action against another company over a name. This is fact, and in this case, it speaks for itself. It didn’t need Notch speaking for it.

      Since you brought my personal decision into question, I will defend my point by saying it would have been exactly the same for me, if Notch were completely silent about the whole issue, and it was a journalist who have found out about the case.

    • Schiraman says:

      @Sheng-ji:

      Don’t be silly, of course suing somebody is an aggressive action. Nobody wants to be sued, it’s stressful and expensive – potentially cripplingly so. Of course people will perceive someone forcing them into that situation as an aggressive act. It may or may not be justified aggression, but it’s still aggression. Just in the same way as arresting someone is aggressive, or shouting “No! You’re wrong!” is aggressive.

      We’re talking about taking an action that could potentially bankrupt a company, or totally derail someone’s life – it isn’t a casual, everyday thing and it never should be.

      Also, while we’re on semantics, we do talk about “fighting a court case” and also making a “defence” against the charges brought. So I’d say that aggression is also implied there.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      If you absolutely must take business issues to mean a personal attack, then I reiterate, Notch is the aggressor. He deliberately named the game Scrolls knowing of the existence of the Elder Scrolls series.

      But you said it yourself “Suing someone is an aggressive action” Mojang is not a someone. It’s a multi million dollar business. Let’s hope it’s insured properly, because proper insurance which protects the lively-hood of your employees is the professional thing to make sure your company has.

      Also I highly doubt that had notch not released such inflammatory statements with such passion behind them, people would be as inflamed as they are now.

    • Schiraman says:

      Wait, Notch is the aggressor for naming his game Scrolls? Really?

      So naming anything with a word that is used in any other name is an aggressive action?

      That makes pretty much every publisher an aggressor then, doesn’t it?

      I think what you need to realise is that there are only so many words in the English language, and it isn’t reasonable to try and claim exclusive ownership of them. Of course games use some of the same words in their names, we’re all sharing those words – otherwise they’re worthless.

      Also: I have no idea what inflammatory statements you’re referring to. I remember some funny statements, and just some straight-forward statements (along the lines of “Bethesda are suing us over the name Scrolls”).

      Personally, all it takes for me to annoyed about this case is the basic fact that Bethesda are suing another developer because they want to make a game called Scrolls. I don’t need anyone, including Notch, to tell me that that’s ridiculous.

    • Unaco says:

      @Schiraman

      No… Notch initiated this by trying to TRADEMARK Scrolls. He tried to claim exclusive ownership of the word Scrolls.

    • Schiraman says:

      @Unaco:

      I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think claiming a trademark on something means you’re trying to claim that word as your exclusive property. Surely having a trademark on Scrolls wouldn’t prevent someone else having a trademark on The Elder Scrolls?

      In any case, since Notch already offered to withdraw that trademark application, I don’t really see how that’s justification for anything. Is this lawsuit an attempt to punish him for ever having dared to consider trademarking the name? ;)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Bethesda rejected an out of court settlement. Unless Notch has published the entire agreement he sent over, how can you know he was being reasonable. There may have been a clause in there which stated Bethesda must never use the term “Elder Scrolls” ever again. OK, probably not, but my point is, unless you know the whole agreement, you can’t vilify Bethesda for rejecting it.

    • Milky1985 says:

      @Unaco

      “No… Notch initiated this by trying to TRADEMARK Scrolls. He tried to claim exclusive ownership of the word Scrolls.”

      Well no he tried to trademark the name of his game, but unfortantly the americans are a bit silly and do go with the “you are using part of the name so therefore people will be confused root”.

      Also he offered to drop the trademark but bethesda would not accept that so i don’t think this is really the issue here.

      Unfortantly the people reading the trademark application are also stupid and it shows from the quote below from the LEGAL document about the trademark from the USPTO:

      “Regarding the THE ELDER SCROLLS marks, the applicant has merely deleted the term ELDER from the registered mark. The mere deletion of wording from a registered mark may not be sufficient to overcome a likelihood of confusion. ”

      Factually untrue if they are going to go down that route (i don’t see the word “THE” anywhere so obviously my brain works differently when it comes to basic reading)

      http://tdr.uspto.gov/jsp/DocumentViewPage.jsp?85323305/OOA20110913203209/Offc%20Action%20Outgoing/18/13-Sep-2011/sn/false#p=1

    • UnravThreads says:

      Milky1985;
      Did you read the discussion? The poster I replied to made the point that the TES games contain few references to the titular Elder Scrolls, and they appear even more infrequently, but that Scrolls would actually involve scrolls. My point was that the content of a game or its story has little to do with the trademark, and that to consider it is irrelevant.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      Oh my fucking Christ. Lawsuits are PUBLIC. There is NOTHING “Professional” about not talking about them, nor is there some retarded etiquette stating such. Anyone who thinks so is a) confused and b) ignorant of THE ENTIRE NEWS MEDIA WHICH CONSTANTLY REPORTS ON THIS SHIT.

      The only reason – ONLY REASON – you never hear other game companies talk about this stuff is because other game companies DON’T TALK ABOUT STUFF. Period. They don’t talk about their process, they don’t talk about their offices, they don’t talk about how they’re doing, what they’re doing, anything. Often, you don’t even know a company is *working* on a game until its announced! And how is THAT professional, exactly? Sounds more like a culture of paranoia to me.

    • Dominic White says:

      @zbeeblebrox – Amen to that. Having someone – ANYONE – actually talk openly about this shit is a huge breath of fresh air. The idea that just by talking about the lawsuit, Mojang are playing a dirty, underhanded game is mindblowingly insane and is the kind of logic that you really could only get out of the games industry.

      If it takes the rise of a new wave of indie studios to actually find out what the hell happens, ever, then bring on a dozen more Mojangs.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      How many times do I have to repeat it, it’s not the talking about it that’s unprofessional, it’s deliberately shitstirring in his community and telling half truths which is the unprofessional bit: It’s the way he’s talking about it!

    • Blackseraph says:

      Honestly Sheng-ji you just seem mad because Mojang and Notch are better at pr than Bethesda is.
      I haven’t seen any halftruths anywhere sorry to say.

      To me you seem to see half truths and stirring in places that don’t have any.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Notch stated that he offered to change the name of the game. What he conveniently didn’t point out was that his offer did not include removing the word “Scrolls” from the name of the game.

      Half-truth

      He stated that he has offered to remove the trademark application. A query with the trademark office cites an update to the application shortly after which does not in any way remove the application.

      I’d say this one was a blatant lie.

      Sorry I seem mad, but I have received a tremendous amount of abuse for merely pointing out what Bethesda’s point of view is – so if I appear mad it’s because I get frustrated with people who refuse to consider an opposing point of view, while dealing the most vile abuse out to me (and I made the mistake of revealing my sex and the fact that I was breastfeeding a newborn earlier -I won’t post the username of the little child who emailed me threatening to drown my child and rape me, this time, but I did pass his real name and address on to the police, thankyou tracesmart).

      If you read through some of my less exasperated messages, you can see that I don’t actually hold any strong feelings as I love both companies – I worry for Notch that this “pr” style will be ultimately damaging to Mojang and that because of my career, I have something of an insight into how this all works and I just wanted to share that point of view with the community.

      I probably won’t bother in the future.

    • Beardface says:

      Notch is doing the right thing. Companies that choose to involve themselves in ridiculous, pointless legal action are clogging up the legal system and making a mockery of it. Least we can do is publicize those cases and make it clear to those involved that what they do is morally unacceptable.

  7. Prime says:

    Come the revolution Lawyers will be first against the wall.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      History shows that come the revolution, the lawyers keep their heads down and make a fortune afterwards – It’s very hard to put someone against a wall, put a gun to their heads and pull the trigger and then go on to not get sued by that persons family later while being dragged through a war crimes tribunal.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      That why you make sure to kill their families too *sage nod*

      I love how we somehow sidelined from copyright legal issues into ‘how I would commit lawyer genocide and get away with it’

    • mejoff says:

      Robspierre was a lawyer.

    • Braveheart says:

      Sheng I just want to thank you for enlightening me about how these procedures happen (and no I am not being sarcastic), I can kind of understand Bethesda’s POV now

    • Sheng-ji says:

      That’s all I want – I only seem to take Bethesda’s side because I can see their point and I believe people should make fully informed decisions. I can’t bear it when a thread winds itself up from a viewpoint based solely on ignorance and this issue is one of those because most people don’t understand the law. I personally don’t hold very strong opinions, I love both games companies and the products they make. I did want to play devils advocate, at the very least to make people think before having a kneejerk “protect the little guy” reaction!

      So I’m glad I could be of help!

    • Prime says:

      Robespierre was also French. ‘Nuff said.

      Sheng-ji: logically the problem solves itself – if we kill all the lawyers, who will be left to sue anyone?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Prime, I absolutely cannot argue with you! :D

    • Starky says:

      If we kill all the lawyers law will again become the sole property of the rich, powerful and/or influential.

      People joke/complain about lawyers but having legal rights and status and access to someone educated and able to understand and argue those rights and statuses in a reasoned and professional manner is something fundamentally required for modern civilized living.

      As the saying goes don’t blame the player, blame the game – politicians make law, judges define it – lawyers simply use it.

      If there were no lawyers, if magically every lawyer vanished, law would become overwhelmingly stacked in favour of the wealthy – so much more than it already is – I’m talking near feudalism. Someone ill-educated, poor or even just working class would never stand a chance in any kind of courtroom if they had to defend themselves against a well respected/wealthy/influential figure. Companies would have no fear or threat of reprisal for shoddy practice (class action lawsuits for example), unions would crumble and be powerless – and life would be worse for 99% of people.

      Lawyers (in the grand scheme) are a force for equality. True that this isn’t always the case, and true power still lies with the wealthy (because they can hire better lawyers), but to a much, much lesser degree than the past. The gap between a massively expensive legal team from a top firm, and a young cheap lawyer from a small practice is much, much smaller than the gap between a wealthy powerful well dressed educated person defending themselves against a average-working-joe trying to state a case before a court.
      Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know much about history or is just plain wrong headed imo.

  8. Acosta says:

    Shorter RPS post ever? you are getting old Jim!

  9. Dawngreeter says:

    Maybe Bethesda will now get sued by Apple for plagiarizing their ridiculous law suit style.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    “Of course this is only the first step, and we expect Bethesda will certainly take the process to its conclusion at a full trial.”

    If you expect that, you have a laughable grasp of legal process. Bethesda never intended this to go to court; it was a chlling effect bully-boy tactic designed to scare Mojang.

    Now they’ve lost a preliminary injunction, their lawyers will surely point out that Bethesda are in danger of losing their trademark to genericisation. Such a fear will cause them to settle /quickly/ with Mojang, paying them an undisclosed sum and the lawsuit will go away.

    Notch will now be EVEN RICHER.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      What??? Sorry, you could only be more wrong if you included a jail sentence for the Bethesda lawyers! Bethesda will never be liable to pay Mojang damages from this case as Mojang are not claiming damages from them, and if they were to, it would be settled in a different case.

      Chlling [sic]? Bully Boy? Why is protecting your IP chlling[sic] or being a bully? If I release a racing game called Mine-Racecraft, would Mojang be a bully or chlling[sic] for taking me to court?

      Of course Bethesda are going to take this all the way – a judge in an interim case making a decision does not change the fact that Bethesda still feel their IP is threatened. It is their right to appeal and I don’t see why they wouldn’t. If you went to a doctor with symptoms and he told you there was nothing wrong, I bet you’d get a second opinion.

      And as you are insulting other peoples legal knowledge, perhaps you’d enlighten us to your own qualifications?

    • formivore says:

      I still don’t understand why this scrolls thing became an issue while “Minecraft”, which is just about as derivative your imaginary name, never got a notice from Blizzard. Maybe it did but Mojang just kept that one professional?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I expect there were internal meetings, but given the different circumstances they must have decided against legal action – Also Notch didn’t have an audience back then, he is only acting unprofessionally now because he has a public audience to listen to him.

      If minecraft was an rts like game, I expect they would be taking legal action!

    • Koldunas says:

      Wow. So now the genre of the game matters? I hope you know that Mojang’s Scrolls isn’t a first person RPG?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Genre (Or context legally) has always mattered, which is why Penguin publishing can happily co-exist with Penguin chocolate bars.

      But I hope you know that both Scrolls and Skyrim are both video games

    • Tams80 says:

      I haven’t really been following this, but how have Mojang been unprofessional?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      His constant tweets and released statements containing half truths and leaving out critical information, his inflammatory statements disguised as humour, his undermining of the legal process by stirring elements of his community into “action” etc etc

  11. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Daniel Kaplan (@Kappische) posted the full text of the judgement—unfortunately it’s in Swedish, so I can’t read it, and it’s an image, so I can’t just pump it through Google Translate to try and get the gist of it either.

    Edit: He’s now posted a summary in English.

    This case isn’t over yet by any means. What this means is that Mojang can continue to use the name “Scrolls” until the full case can be heard by the court.

  12. DeanLearner says:

    Thank goodness. Now Mojang can concentrate on finishing Skyrim!

  13. DeanLearner says:

    I’ve just realised that young kids would be perfect IP lawyers. If a child has a friend round, said friend will start playing with a toy just for the kid to go “NOoooo, that’s MY toy”. The friend wanders off to another toy “NNOOOOO, that’s MY toy TOO!”

  14. Schiraman says:

    The Elder Scrolls franchise may be very valuable, but people very rarely refer to it by name in my experience (outside of this court case) – people just talk about Oblivion, not TES4: Oblivion.

    Also the idea that TES franchise will somehow be weakened and sales lost if there is any other game in existence that uses the word Scrolls in its name is just rubbish. That simply isn’t how the world works. People don’t assign a certain amount of their money to pay for ‘scrolls-related games’ and then split that between the available titles.

    Many games have similar names, similar themes and similar mechanics. Strangely, this doesn’t seem to hurt them, and indeed the games industry is thriving despite being founded on this principle. Bethesda have nothing to fear from Scrolls. We know that, they know that, Notch knows that.

    Given that fact, it’s hard not to treat their lawsuit, and the lawyers who spawned it, with contempt. Notch, conversely, has my utmost respect for being honest and funny about the situation, as opposed to bitter and angry (which I think would be a very natural response). The contrast between Mojang and Bethesda says everything about why the ongoing indie explosion is a great thing for gaming.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I understand what you are saying, but if Oblivion didn’t have “The Elder Scrolls” tag, how many people would have known it was the sequel to Morrowind? That would have definitely affected sales.

      I hate to say it, but how the world works is down to perception – in your mind, Bethesda will not be at all effected by a game coming out who’s IP is half of theirs, however, they disagree with you. They have requested a trial to have an independent, expert judgement on the matter and this is what is happening. If you are correct, then the judge will surely rule in Mojangs favour right? Unless you are going to imply that the courts are corrupt. This is a normal process and a normal function of business once it reaches a certain size.

      And again, Notches reaction is all about perception. To me, he is being quite underhanded and sly with his comments. I really like the guy and have met him several times but his comments are very off kilter especially as he knows full well how the community is reacting, how people are openly slandering Bethesda over this, mainly because they are completely ignorant of the issues and how this is publicising his games.

      If this is the indie culture to celebrate. count me out, lets get some maturity into our industry.

    • Schiraman says:

      Well, I think putting “the long-awaited sequel to award-winning RPG Morrowind!”, or something along those lines, on the box would probably help. Also, they could maybe mention it in the countless previews and press releases? ;)

      Seriously, I’m not saying they shouldn’t use TES as a name to tie the games together if they like, but I really don’t think it’s as important to the success of the series as you’re trying to suggest.

      And I think you should be careful when using statements like ‘a game coming out who’s IP is half of theirs’. The name ‘TES’ is not the entire IP of that franchise, it’s an isolated fragment of the IP as a whole. Part of the name. The names for the individual games are given far more weight, and the name of Bethesda themselves and, above all else, the features of the games themselves are the bulk of the IP, in effect.

      Many games thrive despite sharing partial names. Words like ‘quest’, ‘fantasy’, ‘heart’, ‘soul’, ‘magic’ and ‘war’ are extremely common in names of games, and yet manage to coexist quite happily. And yes, I’d be just as annoyed if the makers of Might and Magic sued the makers of Magic: The Gathering, or any other example you care to name. It’s silly, expensive and a waste of everyone’s time.

      So we’re down to this: whether this is a ‘normal function of business’. You know what? Maybe it is, but that doesn’t make it ok. Corruption, bullying and tax-evasion are also pretty normal with companies of a certain size, but I don’t like those things either.

      The simple fact is that this is baseless, pointless litigation that could easily have been avoided. The very fact that Bethesda is receiving so much flack for it from the gaming public should tell it, and you, that most people don’t consider this acceptable behaviour. Saying “but everybody else does it!” is no excuse.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      You’re right that I should have been much more careful with my wording, and what I wrote was an error!

      I completely disagree about the power of a name – see my links above, if they ever get moderated.

      I also therefore disagree that this is baseless or pointless – if it was, it would have been thrown out of court at the interim stage. It’s easy to sit there assuming you are better than the judge at making these decisions, but he is a professional and he has decided that there is merit to both sides. I think we have to accept that for now.

    • mejoff says:

      Why do people keep forgetting that this whole mess kicked off because MOJANG TRIED TO TRADEMARK THE WORD ‘SCROLLS’!

    • Schiraman says:

      Really? You completely disagree with my points about names?

      So are you saying that every company that has a game that shares one or more words with another company’s game is being damaged by that situation and should sue them? Do you not think that might be a touch excessive?

      As for whether the case is baseless and/or pointless, I’m not making a legal argument – I’m making a common-sense real-world argument. I’m not a lawyer, so I have no idea what it would take for the case to be summarily thrown out – all I’m saying is that as a gamer it seems evident to me that Bethesda is essentially just trying to bully a smaller rival by using a spurious legal argument.

      Hopefully the legal system will reach a similar conclusion, but if they don’t that will in no way improve my opinion of Bethesda, or somehow convince me that Notch attempting to develop a game that shares a word in its name with a previously existing game was somehow wrong.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Apart from the “and should sue them” bit, yes I do believe that any similar product, in context which shares a name or part of a name devalues both products. Any brand name which is unique is worth more than an equivalent which has similar named competitors. I agree this case is marginal, but no I don’t believe Bethesda are bullying Mojang or whatever, I just think they firmly believe this could affect them and want to protect them selves.

      The word sue seems to have very negative connotations outside of the law, but it’s not an aggressive action.

    • Schiraman says:

      So suing has negative connotations outside of the legal profession? Could that possibly be because the legal profession profits massively by the practice, while for everyone else it’s a massive headache? ;)

      I think we’ll have to just agree to disagree about what constitutes aggression, but I think many people would consider suing someone to be pretty aggressive – especially over such a petty issue.

      As for brand names: ultimately you’ve only got yourself to blame if your brand is reliant on existing English words and someone else decides to use one or more of those words in their brand too. If you want to be unique, make something up – call the series ‘Tamriel Chronicles’ or something. Except don’t then whine if someone else’s name includes the word Chronicles… ;)

  15. rocketman71 says:

    If Bethesda wins this, I’m going to trademark the word “The”. I remember developing a game 30 years ago called like that. Then, Bethesda will see.

    BTW, Sheng-ji, Notch has every right in the world to publicize the lawsuit, and any damages to Bethesda’s reputation have been caused by themselves. They are the ones that sued (arguably forced by the absolutely stupid US copyright/trademark laws), knowing full well that they’re fighting against a single word, and then despite the PR disaster waited almost two months before saying squat.

    I say they deserve it. And I hope they lose, badly. This is just ridiculous.

    • Azdeus says:

      Not to mention the fact that Bethesda has an ongoing lawsuit against Interplay that has been going on for ages, where their lawyers dipshittery and general fails throws extra bad PR their way.

    • mejoff says:

      “I’m going to trademark the word “The””
      Like Notch tried to trademark the word ‘Scrolls’?

      Remember, this isn’t about using the word, it’s about trademarking it.

    • Unaco says:

      Yeah… because ‘The’ is one of those words that’s completely unique in video game naming. Oh wait, no it isn’t. Just like ‘Star’ and ‘Wars’ and ‘Space’ and ‘Marine’, ‘The’ is pretty common, it isn’t an integral part of anyone’s IP. Unlike, say, a word like ‘Scrolls’, which, as far as I am aware, is used in precisely one game franchise/IP… The Elder Scrolls.

  16. megurushi says:

    If I hear the word “craft” I think of Minecraft, or I am already thinking about it, either way to me the word makes me think about some serious block-on-block action. I think Mojang could on the basis of this sue the shop Hobbycraft. What they have done there is taken two words “hobby” & “craft” and combined them in the same way as Mojang cleverly did with “mine” & “craft”. So any combination of two words said as one with the emphasis on craft and crafting is now copywrited because I think it vaguely reminds me of a game. There is some dispute of course because everyone just calls it “that hobby shop, with the bits n stuff”. I will leave it to the lawyers I think…

    Elder Scrolls, Elder Scrolls, Elder Scrolls (say it three times and a lawyer magically appears!)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Hobby craft existed before minecraft, hobbycraft is a shop which sells stuff, minecraft is a computer game… there is no context.

      Seriously, this post demonstrates exactly why the legal profession is so well paid – ignorance has no place in it.

      It also demonstrates why Notch trying to joke about it is a bad thing – comedy and the law don’t mix well either

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think Warcraft gets first billing

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Warcraft and hobbycraft both registered as trademarks in 1994. But still no context.

  17. Hoaxfish says:

    Could Bethesda sue Notch into finishing Minecraft?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      He has apparently finished it! He’s stopped all work on coding the game until it’s release, since last night

  18. Cradok says:

    Point the first: there should really be required reading and a test before people can comment in this thread. As always, I recommend http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Trademark It’s an in depth look at trademark law as it pertains to Transformers, written using simple terms and familiar names. Go forth!

    Point the second: this isn’t happening because Mojang were contemplating or deciding to call their game ‘Scrolls’, it happened because Mojang applied for a stunningly comprehensive trademark on the word ‘Scrolls’ as pertaining not only to games distributed through every channel imaginable, but animation, TV series, movies, books, comics, clothes, you name it. This wasn’t the act of somebody thinking ‘Oh, I’d better submit one of those copytrade things’ as Notch is portraying, but a concerted effort to lock down the term ‘Scrolls’. Bethesda/Zenimax can’t let that go, because if they do, and they later want to put out some Elder Scrolls books, then Mojang will have them over a barrel.

    Point the third: this should have never been a big deal. This happens all the time. Company A files for a trademark, Company B doesn’t like it, companies either come to an arrangement or have it decided by a neutral third party. Most of the time, you never even know. The only reason this has become a big deal is because Mojang, and Notch in particular, have made it so. And I, for one, don’t believe in Notch’s ‘aah, I’m only having a bit of fun’ attitude, I believe that it’s once again a deliberate campaign designed to hurt ‘the big guy’ and have Bethesda/Zenimax back down.

    • Prime says:

      You just linked to one of my favourite websites. Thank you. :)

      It is also a fantastic and very illuminating read, as pertains to this ‘Scrolls’ story and Bethesda’s actions.

  19. eduh says:

    Notch’s profession is making games, why are people saying Notch is being “unprofessional” by informing his community that his company is being sued?
    Plus, that’s how most indie developers work, they rely on their communities and share everything relevant with them.

    Also, people say Beth went to court cause if they didn’t they could lose their trademark, now that they lost the first “instance” aren’t they in a worse position than if they did nothing at all? Honestly curious.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      It’s pretty much only me saying that, so I will explain. There are many ways to inform your community of something. You could put out a factual statement or you could put a single line “LOLZ We R bEiNg SUED, GuyZ Cum n anD TotAllY Hax0rz there SITe For ME an Steal there CODES LOL”

      Clearly one is not a professional way to conduct business.

      Now I am not accusing Mojang of making statements like that, but I am accusing them of putting out statements which inflame the community. These statements are not balanced as they do not contain the full truth of the matter. Further more, I believe Notch is allowing the community to become inflamed deliberately. Maybe it just makes him feel good to get some support, maybe he really believes he can put pressure on Bethesda, but can he justify this sort of public relation to the judge hearing his case?

      Also, this was an interim court, no-one has won or lost until the end of the full court – imagine this one being a “Do both sides have any merit” court, the answer was yes, both sides have some merit, so let’s do this properly.

    • imagine says:

      I would like to make a couple comments regarding the statements that Sheng-ji is making in pretty much every comment thread.

      1. Why should Mojang be at fault for presenting the situation the way they see it? Even for those who are not aware of the legal details, it is pretty clear that they cannot be impartial, being a party to the proceedings. If people choose not to critically analyze the information they receive, that’s their fault, not Mojang’s. Similarly, I don’t see why presenting information in a way that appeals to the community should be considered foul play: Sweden has laws against libel, so they can be punished if they cross the line, and everything else falls under freedom of speech.

      2. Even if it does not influence the decision on the merits of the case, an interim injunction is still a powerful weapon for protecting IP rights. The fact that a judge has not granted it means that the balance was not overwhelmingly in favour of Bethesda (though I will honestly admit that I do not know what balancing factors are considered in Sweden).

      3. Initiating a lawsuit is, no matter how you put it, an aggressive action – even if it may be justified. This is because legal proceedings involve costs that cannot be completely recovered, and require the parties to keep other resources “on hold” throughout their duration. For IP rights, there is also the problem that often the decision hinges on the judge’s interpretation of the scope of protection of the right and of what constitutes infringement, which makes any prediction of the final outcome particularly difficult (compare this with, for example, the theft of a car).

      I think that – in the present case – Mojang has estimated that, given the kind of IP right involved (the title of the game) and their business model, even in the worst case scenario they are not going to receive a crippling blow from the lawsuit and that on the other hand they could get a lot of press coverage. You think that this is unprofessional, I think it is brilliant. It has also the effect of making the gaming community more aware of IP issues, which is something I consider positive.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      And if you’d read my points carefully, you would know that I fear his unprofessionalism may damage his case – I work in a related area in criminal law and I have seen people jailed in contempt for less. What he is doing may be brilliant, I won’t disagree, however it is highly unprofessional and I will not say otherwise. Being unprofessional is not done by every other multi million dollar company for a very good reason, it is ultimately damaging for a company. I can foresee a time, in maybe a decade where Notch is removed from Mojang as an embarrassment if he doesn’t change the way he presents himself.

    • Zorganist says:

      @Sheng-ji

      You may have seen people held in contempt for criminal cases, but civil contempt and criminal contempt are quite different. Ulitmately, the final ruling is made by the judge presiding over the case, and they won’t take into consideration factors not presented as part of the legal proceedings, and if he or she does take Notch’s outside comments or the public reaction into account, then you have an entirely different issue with the neutrality of the Swedish judiciary. You appear to be one of few people here who find Notch’s commented inflammatory, and I imagine it would be fairly hard to sue him for libel or slander, especially considering how much he’s tried to stress his respect for Bethesda.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I am very well aware that civil and criminal courts are very different however contempt rulings do not make any distinction between them. Trust me, pull a moon at a judge in an employment tribunal, you will be found in contempt (You’d be surprised how common this is!)

      While yes, a judge will only consider the evidence put before him, this does not bind him when it comes to contempt. Even if he can’t demonstrate all four issues for contempt, it may certainly place him ill disposed towards Notch.

      I have also linked earlier to one of many journalist’s outputs who describe his comments as inflammatory. I may be one of the few here, but plenty of others agree with me.

      I don’t think Bethesda would sue him for slander, however, that doesn’t mean he is not aware his statements are inciting it.

    • imagine says:

      @Sheng-ji:

      After having read Notch’s tweets and public posts, and based on the fact that Sweden is a civil law country and this is a civil case, my gut feeling is that contempt shouldn’t play a part in this case, so I did not spend too many words on that point. That being said, I already stated that I am not familiar with the Swedish system, so I am willing to take your assessment at face value. This does not change the essence of my argument though: if Mojang goes too far with their communication strategy, there are legal tools, be it libel or contempt, to protect the other party or the integrity of the trial as a whole. Once these boundaries are respected (and in case the issue is raised, it will be up to the judge to decide), the rest is simply a matter of style. In that, I guess, we can just agree to disagree – even though I’ll admit that communication strategy is not “one size fits all”, so what works for Notch this time will not necessarily work for everyone, or for Notch himself in the future.

      The issue of contempt aside, I disagree with you mainly in that I don’t find Notch/Mojang at fault for not presenting an impartial view of the case. Furthermore, I think that lawsuits are – at least in the field of IP and especially when IT companies are concerned – for their practical effects aggressive moves; everyone is entitled to an opinion as to whether they are justified or not, but the tactical value of such a move is clear.

  20. jhng says:

    Gosh — two RPS articles inside a week, several pages of comments on both, and I presume that this is replicated across the gaming blogosphere…. This sort of regular publicity for the new game is a real prize for Notch. So I don’t think we need to be too sympathetic.

    Interestingly, I have actually seen cases where clients have decided to turn a blind eye to potential infringement precisely because they did not want to give the potential infringer this sort of publicity, and in a few cases I have seen it the other way — when we have flagged up a borderline infringement risk to a client and they have said ‘not bothered: worst case scenario is we get sued, get loads of publicity, and change the name (at relatively little cost) if we have to’.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

  21. Erapaiva says:

    For those claiming that Mojang brought this upon itself by trying to trademark Scrolls, pleasenote this bit from Notch’s blog that says there were willing to give up on the trademark, but that wasn’t enough for Bethesda/ZeniMax:

    “I feel the need to clarify a couple of things:

    We realized we should apply for the trademark “Minecraft” to protect our brand. When doing so, we also sent in an application for “Scrolls”. When Bethesda contacted us, we offered both to change the name to “Scrolls: ” and to give up the trademark.

    They refused on both counts.

    Whatever reason they have for suing us, it’s not a fear of us having a trademark on the word “Scrolls”, as we’ve offered to give that up.”

    • Grygus says:

      Except that adding a colon does absolutely nothing to address Bethesda’s complaint, and if Bethesda agrees to drop it for that then Notch can simply apply for a Trademark at a later date – only then Bethesda’s Trademark case would be weakened precisely because they agreed to this offer! His offering was completely worthless, and Bethesda would have to be stupid to accept it.

      If I am hitting you in the arm and you ask me to stop, offering to instead hit you in the face is not grounds to say that you are being unreasonable when you turn down the proposal.

      If Notch were serious, he would have offered an actual new name, with the word, “Scrolls” not included at all, which would have ended everything and he could code in peace. Incidentally, he would have lost nothing since the game isn’t out yet, EXCEPT for the free publicity he has gotten for complaining about this lawsuit. The fact that he did not make a real offering shows that he had no intention of making the lawsuit go away. Trademark searches are routine procedures when naming a game. He knew what he was doing from the very beginning, and the entire process has been utterly predictable. This whole construct is of Notch’s making. He believes he will win; he’s not interested in concessions. Saying otherwise is disingenuous. This is why people accuse him of being unprofessional: he is lying to his fans.

  22. celticfang says:

    If Notch’s statements are deemed inflammatory, could Zenimax/Bethesda sue him/Mojang for damages related to the case?

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  24. Shooop says:

    There shouldn’t be any problem with him using the name, but if he wants to trademark it…

  25. Blackseraph says:

    Well here are ruling in swedish http://i.imgur.com/q33mW.jpg

    And english summation http://i.imgur.com/SQA1B.png

    If anyone is interested, court finds that there aren’t probable grounds for trademark infringement, so doesn’t look too good for Bethesda, if they were professional they should propably drop this here.

    • formivore says:

      It’s worth pointing out that the summation is by Mojang’s lawyer, though the full Swedish version is available so it’s not likely to be total spin.

      Note that the court did take into account such things as that that “Scrolls” are a common element in fantasy settings and that the expected audience is a specialist one that can make a distinction between titles that a general audience may not.

  26. MFToast says:

    Hurray for Mojang! Of course a lot of what’s on Notch’s blog is in jest. Anybody notice the tinge of sarcasm to everything he says? We all know Zenimax are totally sue happy. Glad they didn’t have to change it to “Magiccraft” or some stupid shit like that.

  27. formivore says:

    Deleted.

  28. Blackseraph says:

    What he said that he offered to put subtitle in the game as in Scrolls: ___

    So no that is not in anyway a half truth. He shouldn’t have to change the name of the game at all so this should have been good enough compromise.

    And why would he remove the trademark application before bethesda agrees to it? So no it’s not a blatant lie, blatant lie would have been if Bethesda would have approved the offer and yet Mojang would not have dropped the trademark application.

    I can approve your point of view, but I think you are wrong here as is Bethesda.
    This is how it almost always goes when bigger company sues smaller one, especially if there isn’t huge amount of evidence that that smaller one has somehow wronged the bigger one. Bigger one is seen as a bully and they must be prepared for a pr disaster.

  29. Acorino says:

    Mobigame had it coming when they called their game Edge!

    Seeing the title I couldn’t help but think of this wonderful company called Edge. I foolishly believed they were the ones behind it! Just the thought of all the excellent past releases from Edge, like Bobby Bearing, assured me that Edge would be worth the money, so I nearly bought it!

    What a shrewd move!

  30. Acorino says:

    I feel Notch behaved very professionally since he raised awareness of his new game while helping his case. It was a great business move. And I don’t think it was unethical either. If you take him at his word or not is your own decision but I don’t feel that he’s deceiving.
    And what’s “professional” anyway? Is it professional when Activision and EA hurl insults at each other back and forth? Was it professional how Activision tried to circumvent paying royalties to the guys at Infinity Ward and kicked them out of their own offices?

    Notch can’t be impartial, of course, since he is part of the proceedings. Doesn’t automatically mean that he’s wrong though.

  31. Nadroj233 says:

    Someone in Germany should make a Mario Paint ripoff called “Mein Kraft”, that might be fun to watch play out…