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Bethesda's Parent Company Tells Notch 'Scrolls' is Off-Limits

ZeniMax Media lawyers up over potential confusion of Scrolls and The Elder Scrolls.

Notch put up a picture of the paperwork he received from ZeniMax on his Twitter account.

If Markus "Notch" Persson has his way, Minecraft is only the beginning for his studio, Mojang AB. It's already working on Scrolls, a still-developing idea cribbing parts from board games and collectible card games. It may or may not be called Scrolls when it actually comes out, though.

ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, has sent Persson a stack of paperwork regarding the Scrolls name, claiming potential for market confusion with its own The Elder Scrolls series.

To be clear: Bethesda the developer is not pursuing this, it's the company who owns Bethesda.

"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," said Persson on his Tumblr blog today. "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."

This isn't the first time Persson has spoken to ZeniMax about this issue, he disclosed.

Persson applied for both the Minecraft and Scroll trademarks about six months ago as a precationary measure, even though Persson admits he's not a fan of trademarks in general.

"Better safe than sorry, and all that," he said.

ZeniMax then contacted Persson over the same issue at hand: confusion with The Elder Scrolls.

"I agree that the word 'Scrolls' is part of that trademark," he wrote, "but as a gamer, I have never ever considered that series of (very good) role playing games to be about scrolls in any way, nor was that ever the focal point of neither their marketing nor the public image."

The threat of a lawsuit wasn't something Persson took lightly, even if he concluded there wasn't a case. He actually proposed a compromise where Mojang AB wouldn't place any words in front of the name -- i.e. Scrolls: The Banana Expansion.

He's not aware if Zenimax ever responded to this proposal, but he does have the potential for a proper lawsuit brewing now.

"I love Bethesda," he said. "I assume this nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers, and a result of trademark law being the way it is."

ZeniMax and Bethesda have not responded to my request for comment thus far.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Notch put up a picture of the paperwork he received from ZeniMax on his Twitter account.

If Markus "Notch" Persson has his way, Minecraft is only the beginning for his studio, Mojang AB. It's already working on Scrolls, a still-developing idea cribbing parts from board games and collectible card games. It may or may not be called Scrolls when it actually comes out, though.

ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, has sent Persson a stack of paperwork regarding the Scrolls name, claiming potential for market confusion with its own The Elder Scrolls series.

To be clear: Bethesda the developer is not pursuing this, it's the company who owns Bethesda.

"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," said Persson on his Tumblr blog today. "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."

This isn't the first time Persson has spoken to ZeniMax about this issue, he disclosed.

Persson applied for both the Minecraft and Scroll trademarks about six months ago as a precationary measure, even though Persson admits he's not a fan of trademarks in general.

"Better safe than sorry, and all that," he said.

ZeniMax then contacted Persson over the same issue at hand: confusion with The Elder Scrolls.

"I agree that the word 'Scrolls' is part of that trademark," he wrote, "but as a gamer, I have never ever considered that series of (very good) role playing games to be about scrolls in any way, nor was that ever the focal point of neither their marketing nor the public image."

The threat of a lawsuit wasn't something Persson took lightly, even if he concluded there wasn't a case. He actually proposed a compromise where Mojang AB wouldn't place any words in front of the name -- i.e. Scrolls: The Banana Expansion.

He's not aware if Zenimax ever responded to this proposal, but he does have the potential for a proper lawsuit brewing now.

"I love Bethesda," he said. "I assume this nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers, and a result of trademark law being the way it is."

ZeniMax and Bethesda have not responded to my request for comment thus far.

Staff
Posted by Spekingur

Bad news this is.

Posted by LiquidPenguins

it's about time someone showed these indie guys who the real boss is

Posted by beef_melody

Can't help noticing Zenimax is very similar to Maxis. Lawyers?

Posted by Warchief

Seriously Bethesda?

Posted by SpunkyHePanda

Buuuullshit.

Posted by RustySpoon

How could something like this ever hold up? It's kind of absurd.

Edited by Mumrik

Fuck off Zenimax. That is some really stupid shit to be pulling. I guess Activision will be suing everyone who uses Black, Modern, Duty or Call?
 
It's not like he is calling his game The Elder Scroll or Scroll of the Elders or something like that.

Posted by MisterMollusk

I'm gonna copyright the dictionary. Now NO ONE cane use my words.

Posted by A_Cute_Squirtle

I need to see a Banana Expansion to an Elder Scrolls game.

Posted by Milkman

@Warchief said:

Seriously Bethesda?

Let's read.

"To be clear: Bethesda the developer is not pursuing this, it's the company who owns Bethesda."

Edited by mattjam3000

This is ridiculous. Trademarking is down right broken. No one person should hold the rights to the word "Scrolls," especially if the suit is based on the fact people will confuse this as an Elder Scrolls game. Its like saying Gears of War cant be used because it might be confused with Warhawk.

Edited for spelling, angrily written

Edited by MrMazz

thats a bummer hopefully this gets sorted out how do you confuse Scrolls with ELDER Scrolls? eh people are stupid sometimes but they sound like two different games

Posted by Sin4profit

just call it "Skrolls" and yer golden.

Seriously though, that's like saying "man" is a trademarked word just because it's in "Batman" ...the fuck?

Posted by Lukeweizer
@LiquidPenguins

it's about time someone showed these indie guys who the real boss is

Sorry, you can't say 'Indie', that relates to a series of purchasable game bundles. I'm going to have to sue you now.
Posted by Bumpton

Fuck Notch. You think you can just steal from Bethesda? Omg, whatadick.
Posted by JoeyRavn

@RustySpoon said:

How could something like this ever hold up? It's kind of absurd.

This. Not to mention, very ill-intentioned. Notch is not trying to capitalize on the success of the TES series, but Zenimax is totally trying to fuck him over.

@Mumrik said:

Fuck off Zenimax. That is some really stupid shit to be pulling. I guess Activision will be suing everyone who uses Black, Modern, Duty or Call?

Call of Black: Modern Duty. Go.

Posted by PhatSeeJay

Jesus Christ, God damned... >.<

Even funnier is one of the tweets that Notch RT'd:

@skulldaisygimp

@notch Called up a game shop, asked if they were taking preorders on "the new Elder Scrolls." He didn't know what it was 'til I said Skyrim.
Edited by jaks

So does that mean ancient Egypt can file a cease and desist against Bethesda? What about the AARP for their obvious theft of the word "Elder"?
 
What a retarded attempt at a legal fishing expedition. How the fuck can you claim copyright to the word "Scrolls"? There needs to be legal repercussions for when lawyers fish like this. Shame on you, Bethesda.

Posted by gbrading

Call it Drenched in Europe... Wait, wrong game.

Posted by ryanwho

I confuse God of War and Gears of War all the time because 2 of the words are the same. Are they in the same universe? How do they connect? Boy this sure is confusing. 

Posted by Spekingur

It's not like many people ever call the Elder Scrolls games by their full name. Most of us know them as Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim - and those are the names they will be remembered by.

Posted by CaLe

That's like saying no game can have the word 'Metal' in it because it belongs to Metal Gear Solid. Effing stupid.

Online
Posted by MeatSim

Like he said it's lawyers being lawyers.

Posted by CrossTheAtlantic
@CaLe said:

That's like saying no game can have the word 'Metal' in it because it belongs to Metal Gear Solid. Effing stupid.

As a representative of Konami, I am required to inform you that you must now transfar us $500,000 for the use of the word 'Metal.'
Posted by Mystyr_E

well at least Notch didn't call it "Scroll's Edge" or he'd be in really deep shit

Posted by sagesebas

Once it is out nobody is ever going to say The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, every one will just say Skyrim like they did with Oblivion and with Morrowind, zero market place confusion.

Posted by Enigma777

Now I wish someone would make "The Younger Scrolls" out of spite.

Posted by SomeDeliCook

I had to scroll down the article to read it all

BAM LAWSUIT

Posted by zakkro

I don't know which is worse: the lawsuit, or the bland name of "Scrolls." Probably the name.

Posted by CornishRocker

Just call it Drenched. That'll sort it.

Posted by NekuCTR

Wow, Corprit execs over at Bethesda are really good at finding opportunities to make a buck. considering none of them have probably ever heard of Minecraft or Majong, the fact that they knew that it would be worth suing this company with one game not even out is pretty impressive, also fracking bananas.

Posted by John1912

Yea......If you buy a game called scrolls, and thought it automatically had anything to do with the Elder Scrolls,,,,,,Come here ,,,,, /slap  

Posted by JustinAquarius

Lame as hell. Maybe Bethesda will pull the suit if it gets enough INTERNET BACKLASH.

Posted by sirdesmond

Wait, Mojang is making the new Elder Scrolls game?

I'm so confused...

Posted by George_Hukas

I just heard someone say "Oblivion 2" the other day so I think they already got the whole brand confusion thing down.

Posted by Pandasaurus

not the end of the world. also scrolls is a really bad name. Also market confusion is never a bad thing.

Edited by falling_fast

the word "scroll" doesn't automatically bring to mind the Elder Scrolls, for me, at least

the problem here isn't that it will hold up in courts, because I'm pretty sure even Zenimax doesn't expect it to, but that Zenimax has enough money to be able to afford a drawn out court case, but this smaller company (Notch) probably doesn't. it's basically corporate bullying.

trademark law is fucked up.

Posted by Jimbo

So Todd Howard is suing Notch? What a jerk!

Posted by LiquidPrince

Repost:

You can't fucking trademark regular words... I'm gonna go and trademark "The"... and make trillions of dollars...

Posted by M16MoJo
@Milkman said:

@Warchief said:

Seriously Bethesda?

Let's read.

"To be clear: Bethesda the developer is not pursuing this, it's the company who owns Bethesda."

Thank you.
Edited by ryanwho

Zenimax are reminding me of patent squatters. People who form a company that doesn't do anything but issue and purchase patents, then threaten small companies with patent infringing lawsuits (who normally settle so they don't go out of business from court costs). That's basically what will happen here. Short term gains like this don't patch up the longterm damage to reputation it gets. This just makes Zenimax look like a very shortsighted company that doesn't have much of a clue about what its doing.

Posted by BasketSnake

My computer has a button called "Scroll lock"! Yours too?!?

Posted by Slaker117

Man, what's up with developers getting hassled over using regular-ass nouns? If this keeps up, maybe we'll be able to start trademarking articles as well. I call "the".

Posted by falling_fast

@BasketSnake said:

My computer has a button called "Scroll lock"! Yours too?!?

*grabs a fork and pries his scroll lock buttons out*

there

Posted by Aronman789

Its a stupid thing, but I hate Notch and anything to make his life harder is welcomed.

Posted by cikame

Does that mean you can't have any other games with "Scrolls" in from now on?

Posted by Evilsbane

Fucking stupid, Its Daggerfall, Morrowind, and Oblivion or The Elder Scrolls series, Scrolls by itself has nothing to do with those games, get off your high horse and sue over real issues.

Posted by Warchief

@Milkman said:

@Warchief said:

Seriously Bethesda?

Let's read.

"To be clear: Bethesda the developer is not pursuing this, it's the company who owns Bethesda."

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