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

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#151 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@MonkeyKing1969 said:

You know what I see ZeniMax's point. This guy makes sprawling open worlds. He is making something similar to an RPG evidently. In addition, he wants to call it Scrolls.

I would say to Markus "Notch" Persson, "Really dude, you are so married to the word Scrolls that you simply have to use it?" If I got that letter from Zeni might have proposed what he said he proposed, but I also might have said, "Yup, what I'm thinking about might hit too close for the corporate world to feel comfortable. Just call the game Scripture or Scriptorium. Both of which are BETTER NAMES! Thank me later Notch, you can have those names for free.

Most sensible post so far.

#152 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2563 posts) -

@laugurinn said:

worst PR stunt ever

Sad to say it but you are right "Notch" just made us talk about his next game...which he likley never had the intention of calling "Scrolls" anyway.

#153 Posted by laugurinn (62 posts) -
@MonkeyKing1969: I was talking about ZeniMax. We need an emoticon or something for irony. 
#154 Posted by notha (239 posts) -

i almost wanna see him rename it "not elder scrolls"

#155 Posted by LawGamer (124 posts) -

 I agree that this is kind of a crappy thing to do, but I take issue more with how this is going down than the lawsuit itself.  
 
What Zenimax is likely trying to do by bringing the lawsuit now is to prevent Persson from raising the defense called "laches" later.  The defense of laches basically says that if a plaintiff wants to bring a lawsuit, they need to do it as soon as they can. 

Since the defense of laches relates to how much delay there was prior to bringing the lawsuit, it is logical to bring the claim as soon as possible after you find out about the behavior you want to stop. In this case, when Zenimax found out that Persson was trying to trademark "Scrolls." If Zenimax does not  bring the suit now  they run the risk of the following situation: 
 
1. Persson applies for a trademark of the "Scrolls" name. 
2. Zenimax discovers the trademark application, but doesn't do anything. 
3. In a year, two years, whenever Persson actually finishes development of the game and it gets close to release, he decides to change the name to something like "The Older Scrolls." (Or some other name that has the potential to create more consumer confusion than just "Scrolls.")
4. At this point Zenimax sues. 
5. The case gets dismissed on the basis of laches because Zenimax knew about the potential problem several years before but didn't do anything. 
  
Given this, I can understand why Zenimax is sending out a bunch of legal junk to Persson now. However, that does not excuse the overall tone of the letter. At this point, there is no reason to make threats and demand money. Doing so is only likely to make Persson pursue litigation (a bad idea since the case Zenimax appears to have right now is, as we say in the business, "crap"). What Zenimax should be doing at this point is just putting Persson on notice that they are worried about the potential for confusion with their own series and would like to discuss the possibility of changing the name of Persson's product to something more satisfactory to Zenimax. If Persson refuses and the name doesn't change as the game gets closer to release, then they can get sue happy, but seeing as how Persson appears pretty amenable to discussion it seems unlikely to get this far..

#156 Posted by ShaneDev (1696 posts) -
@Beforet said:

@ShaneDev said:

A plausible theory I saw on Reddit is that Zenimax need to send this letter out to Notch to say "We care a lot about our copyright and franchises". It's apparently to make sure that if someone ever does come out with a fantasy game called "Scrolls of the Elders" that Zenimax can sue them and can prove that they previously defended their copyright. It would seem to fit with Notchs suspicion that it is simply automated lawyer work and that its not serious. Not my theory but it would make some sense since this seems to have come out of the blue.

You're right, except it's trademark, not copyright. It seems pedantic but there is a big difference. Notably, you don't need to defend or set a precedent for defending your copyright because that stuff is guaranteed. But you do need to do all of that for trademark. This whole thing is just Zenimax/Bethesda/whoever going through the motions. Like I said, this kind of shit probably happens all of the time. The only reason we know about this case is because Notch mentioned it on Twitter and people decided to blow it out of proportion.

Thanks for the correction. I have no idea about these things I was just echoing what I had heard around the place. I don't know much about these things but I doubt if this was serious it could really go anywhere anyway.
#157 Posted by YukoAsho (2001 posts) -
@dagas said:
Scrolls is just part of the name. Does that mean you cannot have 'Elder' or 'The' in your game's name too?
Well, if this is as open-world as Minecraft, than Zenimax has every right to sue in this here case.  I get your point about common words, but an entertainment company only really owns its trademarks and copyrights, so it needs to protect them.
#158 Posted by pavakah (98 posts) -

Patrick, where you say "... i.e. Scrolls: The Banana Expansion", I think you meant to use 'e.g.', instead. Also, I demand a quick look of Scrolls: The Banana Expansion. Make it happen!

#159 Posted by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

Here is the thing...  most people don't know what "The Elder Scrolls" is they recognize  "Morrowind" or "Oblivion"  but not the actual name of the series itself.   I doubt if there is any market confusion AT ALL.   But hey....its lawyers doing what lawyers do.

#160 Posted by SSully (4125 posts) -

@zeus_gb said:

This is stupid! How is anyone going to confuse two different games. I know the difference and that's good enough for me!

Trust me, there are some really dumb people out there. Plus that would easily be confusing to younger kids.

#161 Posted by gogobomb (63 posts) -

wow. that is just stupid, thats all i have to say

#162 Posted by Khann (2783 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

@MonkeyKing1969 said:

You know what I see ZeniMax's point. This guy makes sprawling open worlds. He is making something similar to an RPG evidently. In addition, he wants to call it Scrolls.

I would say to Markus "Notch" Persson, "Really dude, you are so married to the word Scrolls that you simply have to use it?" If I got that letter from Zeni might have proposed what he said he proposed, but I also might have said, "Yup, what I'm thinking about might hit too close for the corporate world to feel comfortable. Just call the game Scripture or Scriptorium. Both of which are BETTER NAMES! Thank me later Notch, you can have those names for free.

Most sensible post so far.

Scrolls is a card/board game.

So yeah, sensible, but wrong.

#163 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

Dick move by Bathesda they cannot hope to win.

#164 Posted by Argus (58 posts) -

Name police and patent trolls - the ugly side of the game industry.

#165 Posted by Krystal_Sackful (808 posts) -

Lol, he tries to trademark a completely ubiquitous word and the people that have a problem with that are the assholes?

#166 Posted by Detrian (1126 posts) -

Presenting: Markus Persson's Scrolls

#167 Edited by ThomasJay (49 posts) -

Does anyone even say "The Elder Scrolls" when referring to Bethesda's games? I always just call them Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Hell, for a time, I forgot that "The Elder Scrolls" was even part of the titles.

#168 Posted by TheHT (10880 posts) -
@ThomasJay said:
Does anyone even say "The Elder Scrolls" when referring to Bethesda's games? I always just call them Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Hell, for a time, I forgot that "The Elder Scrolls" was even part of the titles.
Whenever I do, it goes down like this:
 
"Hey, you see the new Elder Scrolls game?"
"No, what's it called?"
"Skyrim."
#169 Posted by shodan2020 (659 posts) -

I hope this is just a case of lawyers being silly, if not, Bethesda and Zenimax have tarnished a bit of their reputation with me.

#170 Edited by NaCl (108 posts) -

"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."


Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computers) don't have much to do with Apples (the fruit) either. :p 
 
Just saying. 
 
@ShaneDev
said:

A plausible theory I saw on Reddit is that Zenimax need to send this letter out to Notch to say "We care a lot about our copyright and franchises". It's apparently to make sure that if someone ever does come out with a fantasy game called "Scrolls of the Elders" that Zenimax can sue them and can prove that they previously defended their copyright. It would seem to fit with Notchs suspicion that it is simply automated lawyer work and that its not serious. Not my theory but it would make some sense since this seems to have come out of the blue.

I believe so. 
 
The thing with trademarks is that you must defend it or you can potentially lose it. 
 
This is Bethesda defending.  
 
The ball is in Notch court now.   
If he wants, 
  • he can fight it out in court (although personally I think that is a waste of time and money) or 
  • he can just change the name (the game hasn't been released yet nor all that heavily marketed under the "Scrolls" name, so he ain't losing all that much; and he could save himself a costly legal battle).
#171 Posted by Superguy0009e (18 posts) -

can we all agree that bethsheda (or the company that owns bethsheda) is being a little ignorant and crude, and should probably bring in real facts to a law suit before saying that they own a word

#172 Posted by pakattak (194 posts) -

@MonkeyKing1969 said:

You know what I see ZeniMax's point. This guy makes sprawling open worlds. He is making something similar to an RPG evidently. In addition, he wants to call it Scrolls.

I would say to Markus "Notch" Persson, "Really dude, you are so married to the word Scrolls that you simply have to use it?" If I got that letter from Zeni might have proposed what he said he proposed, but I also might have said, "Yup, what I'm thinking about might hit too close for the corporate world to feel comfortable. Just call the game Scripture or Scriptorium. Both of which are BETTER NAMES! Thank me later Notch, you can have those names for free.

Yeah, except Scrolls is absolutely nothing like an open world RPG.

It would be easy for Notch to 'fix', but the principle of the matter dictates that Zenimax's bullshit needs to be called out.

#173 Posted by orpheusx (6 posts) -

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

Bethesda == ZeniMax for all intents and purpose.  
  
From the GiantBomb wiki: In 1999, Bethesda Softworks was acquired by ZeniMax Media Inc., a company founded by Bethesda Softworks founder, Christopher Weaver and current ZeniMax Media Inc. CEO, Robert A. Altman.

#174 Edited by geirr (2476 posts) -

It's like that one time when I got so fucking confused when Super Meat Boy was for sale, I really thought it was the next Super Mario Bros but wow it so wasn't and now I'm so bummed out, or something?

Fuck off, ZeniMax. We know the difference between words.

@notha said:

i almost wanna see him rename it "not elder scrolls"

YES!

#175 Posted by Corvak (898 posts) -

Somehow, I get the feeling it's all a question of Mojang weighing whether or not its worth bothering to fight. How much have they invested into the name Scrolls, compared to the legal fees required to fight it, and so on.
 
Bethesda also has a lot to lose - if it went to court, they're the big corporation trying to crush the small indie dev. And in the games industry, public opinion can mean much more to your bottom line.  Bethesda is seen as a "good" publisher, where Ubisoft is known for restrictive DRM among PC gamers.  Activision is known for being greedy, and releasing the same game year after year.  EA continually assimilates smaller companies into their whole.  These are generalizations, to be sure, and are not entirely true - but they exist.  In the games industry, as with any other industry that exists to sell products to home users, reputation is everything.
 
I kinda feel Mojang could win the case, but they'd still be out the legal fees. They'd win, or Bethesda would quietly withdraw the complaint. Is it really worth all this bad press, to protect a trademark from an obscure link that wasn't even thought of, before this letter was sent?

#176 Posted by brownsfantb (389 posts) -

Just call it Trenched. Shouldn't be any problems with that name, especially in Europe.

#177 Posted by NaCl (108 posts) -
@Corvak: In this case, Bethesda is more worried about legal opinion than public opinion IMO. 
 
Trademarks. Defend them or lose them.   
 
Wikipedia: Maintaining rights

failure to actively use the mark in the lawful course of trade, or to enforce the registration in the event of infringement, may also expose the registration itself to become liable for an application for the removal from the register after a certain period of time on the grounds of "non-use".

  If they don't at least put on a show to defend the trademark, this incident could be used against them in court, some time in the future.
#178 Posted by left4doof (286 posts) -
@Aronman789 said:
Its a stupid thing, but I hate Notch and anything to make his life harder is welcomed.
 .@Aronman789 said:
@mrpandaman said:
@Aronman789:    Why do you hate him?
Long story short he completely fucked over one of my friends.
Care to elaborate ? Sounds like a good story.
#179 Posted by Cozmicaztaway (216 posts) -

As is said in the actual letter, what little of it I could read, it's sort opf like how you can't suddenly name a game "mario hockey" or something, because people would assume it was related to Super Mario Brothers. This is the example the lawyers used, but.. well, in reality, it's TES, The Elder Scrolls, or straight up Morrowind, Skyrim etc. As other, clever people, have said, it's probably just to make sure no one is trying to infringe on the whole "Elder Scrolls" thing, and "Scrolls: Banana Hammock" could potentially be sort of confusing to the less initiated I guess.
 
I mean, Warhammer and Warmachine? Clealrty not the same at all, right, and yet, to the uninitiated or very young, they could be confused because one is a game with miniatures and the other is Warhammer. Or Warmachine.. whatever.
 
Also, since it's Zenimax doing this, does this mean everyone using the words Doom or Quake or Rage in their titles can now expect to be sued? God forbid Sega should try and do a new Streets of Rage, we'd never heard the end of it.

#180 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

If Scrolls is off limits, then what about Bethesda's very own RAGE? 
 
How many games have Rage in their names, huh?

#181 Posted by gbpacker (3 posts) -

How is it possible to copyright one word? That makes no sense. My highlighter says Major Accent on it, should the MLB sue the makers?

#182 Posted by benpicko (1996 posts) -
@gbpacker

How is it possible to copyright one word? That makes no sense. My highlighter says Major Accent on it, should the MLB sue the makers?

Yes they should.
#183 Posted by JojoTheSlayer (42 posts) -

They wont win. The trademark is "The Elder Scrolls" not "Scrolls".

Whats next, they will sue someone for using the word "The" because its a part word in their trademark...

#184 Posted by JasonR86 (9608 posts) -

Yeah, this is kind of excessive. I'm surprised they didn't go after Activision for Skylanders as I think that leads to more market confusion then 'scrolls' would. Imagine a mom or a dad that is trying to get the right game for their kid (why they would get an M-rated game for their kid is another topic all together), and they ask the guy working at, say, a Gamestop "My kid wants that sky game. He says you go around fighting people and collecting things for your guy. Do you know what game that is?". What game should the Gamestop employee give the parent; Skylanders or Skyrim?

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