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Minecraft Devs Being Sued By Bethesda

While we're on subject of Minecraft, word just got out that a Swedish law firm, representing publisher and developer Bethesda Softworks, is suing the creators of the popular open-world game.

It appears that this suit is not related to Minecraft (a product still in not completed, by the way). Instead, it concerns the company's next project, entitled Scrolls. Ah, I think I already see the master-plan of some lame-ass lawyer, who thinks this is the perfect time to grab some cash quickly and easily. Naturally, the Swedish law firm started legal action, insisting that the Minecraft devs should alter the title of their new project, so that the title doesn't contain the word "scrolls." (sigh)

Here's the word from Marcus Persson, the creator of Minecraft:

About half a year ago, our lawyers recommended us to register "Minecraft" as a trademark, so we did. I had voted against it initially, but we did it anyway. Better safe than sorry, and all that. At the same time, we also applied for "Scrolls", the new game we're working on. We knew of no similarly named games, and we had even googled it to make sure. I'm not even sure if you CAN trademark individual words, like "Scrolls", but we sent in the application anyway.

(Disclosure: We've enforced the trademark for Minecraft once, when there was a minecraft clone on iOS, using our name. People were emailing me saying our iOS version was buggy and bad, so we asked them to change the name of their game, and they did.)

A while later, out of the blue, we got contacted by Bethesda's lawyers. They wanted to know more about the "Scrolls" trademark we were applying for, and claimed it conflicted with their existing trademark "The Elder Scrolls". I agree that the word "Scrolls" is part of that trademark, 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.

Read on.

Thanks, Nameinuse.

17 post(s)
Reader Comments
Marku5K Aug 05 2011, 03:19 pm EDT
wow and lol...bethesta must really have a small dick as a company to be threatened by the ''Scrolls'' UUuuUUUuuu.....Hehhh
  Highlulu: u mad brah?
Un Om Bun [STAFF] Aug 05 2011, 03:21 pm EDT
I was working on a game called The Elder, but now I'm gonna call it just The.
Marku5K Aug 05 2011, 03:25 pm EDT
No no no...''The'' is WAY to close to bethesta's game. You'll only get in trouble. Just use ''...''!
Highlulu Aug 05 2011, 04:37 pm EDT
u mad brah?
run_like_snot Aug 05 2011, 07:38 pm EDT
Dick arse bethesda if this is true
Cheddar Aug 05 2011, 07:59 pm EDT
Very lame, Bethesda.
DungeonRaider Aug 05 2011, 10:05 pm EDT
In their defence I have seen quite a lot of people refer to the Elder Scrolls series as simply Scrolls in forum chats... as in "I was playing Scrolls last night and found...".
  Un Om Bun: I was a very active user on the Bethesda forums for y…
Cheddar Aug 05 2011, 11:26 pm EDT
That's no defense. They can't just copyright a single word of common, nondescript language.

And btw, I never, EVER see people refer to any of the games as "scrolls". It is always "Morrowind", or "Oblivion", or "Skyrim", or "Daggerfall", or whatever.

And as the Minecraft dev's own rebuttal states, what the fuck do some scrolls have to do with any of the plot-lines of any of the games since (and including) Daggerfall? A fat lot of nothing, that's what.

I've sunk a 100+ hours (surely) into the series over the years, and even I don't know what the fuck the "elder scrolls" are supposed to be or what the hell they had to do with anything in Daggerfall, Morrowind, or Oblivion. I'm guessing they had something to do with TES1 waaaaaaay the fuck back when, but that was fucking 1994, and "The Elder Scrolls" has just been a vague prefix for the franchise ever since then.

And hell, for all I know, even TES1's story has nothing to do with any 'scrolls' of some sort. Knowing Bethesda, dollars to donuts its always just been a random and meaningless title for the franchise.

Bethesda's suit is laughable and makes them look like greedy douche-nozzles. Period, full stop.
  RenegadeCZ: The Elder Scrolls are ancient documents written in Da…
Cheddar: No, they aren't. Having become curious about it, I'v…
RenegadeCZ: Well, you never get to do some serious business with …
Ftmch Aug 05 2011, 11:30 pm EDT
MajFauxPas Aug 06 2011, 01:08 am EDT
When lawyers get bored....

Bethesda should have copyrighted "Scrolls" already if they were that worried about it.
imadetheuniverse4fun Aug 06 2011, 02:49 am EDT
Why do you guys even bother discussing this subject without any knowledge of copyright law?

Bethesda has a legal obligation to defend its copyright, even in stupid cases like this. If it lets even a SINGLE case off the hook then it will open itself to attack in the future by anyone trying to rip off their game (and name) on purpose.

They will be able to use the case that 'Bethesda didn't defend their copyright that one time against Notch's Scrolls" so why are they doing it now?

If you want to keep your copyrights, you defend them at all costs, whether you like it or not.

This is all being done for image, not for some stupid money-grab. Once this goes out, they can easily "work a deal out" with Notch about it.

If you want to be mad at something, be mad at the copyright legal system, not Bethesda. They are just obeying the law.
  panglicar: You have no clue how the copyright law works, there's…
Cheddar Aug 06 2011, 03:15 am EDT
This is all pretty simple. And should go without saying. BUT...

Bethesda hasn't copyrighted the word "scrolls". It's copyrighted the PHRASE "The Elder Scrolls".

That's a giant fucking difference, dude. Understand now?

That's why their suit is laughable, a petulant little publisher gold-digging in an empty quarry... and perhaps thinking they can get away with bullying a new little studio. Bethesda AND our courts have better things to do.

Here's a parallel to demonstrate how ridiculous this is: it's like if Activision decided to try to sue a developer for having the word "duty", or "hero", or "world" in one of their game titles.

I guarantee you Bethesda wouldn't be trying this if Mojang weren't an indy studio that publishes its own game. If Mojang were under, say, EA's umbrella right now, this lawsuit is never attempted.

This is EXACTLY like a playground bully trying to throw his weight around on a new kid in class. This is what Bethesda is revealing itself to be with all this.

Bethesda knows Mojang is a small little studio with no sheltering publisher, and so Mojang probably doesn't have a legal team on retainer. Bethesda doesn't even intend for this to go to court. They're simply hoping Mojang, being the little guy, will just roll over and let the bully have his petty little way. Although Bethesda's claim is ludicrous, simply going through the motions of legal defense would still be a considerable hassle for Mojang's modest means.
Kurio Aug 06 2011, 05:40 am EDT
Quite sure imadetheuniverse4fun is correct, just because you like minecraft and its an indie company there is no need to go put your rebel bandanas and hold vigils for it saying its only because its an indie and they are being bullied, seen lawsuits just as litle crap as that, its normal procedure, and you are right Cheddar, it would have never happened if they were under the wing of a giant like EA, but mainly because EA would have known it and not allowed them to take up that name.
A similiar example is with the actor guild, there been people having to change their real name to another because some other actor had registered with a very similiar or equal name.

Also, in oblivion you steal an elder scroll for the thiefs storyline for example, how did you never managed to see any after intense playing eludes me, they are an integral part of the story, all of them.
  Cheddar: I have never played Minecraft in my life. And doubt …
Cheddar: Btw, you have a 'generous' definition of what qualifi…
Mauvais_Karma_X Aug 06 2011, 06:57 am EDT
my my my... !!

"A similiar example is with the actor guild, there been people having to change their real name to another because some other actor had registered with a very similiar or equal name."

If you were born BEFORE the registered name, then go out in the real life and see that WILL never happen, stop reading only the news in the forums, this is bullshit.
Try it and I can tell you, you will be on tv in prime time to expose the case and never have to change your name ! No judge would allow this if you were born the first !
Ok, if you have a son right now AFTER the movie, and you call him Optimus, maybe ... but, hey, what the heck your son is called that name ? Will he be changed into a big truck when getting on his nerves ? Nah !
In France, Renault sued the parents of "megane" because she was named like the car... And what ? Renault will sell less cars because of this ?! Ok, she was born AFTER.
But if you were born BEFORE, you will keep your name, I can assure that !

I totally agree with cheddar, so "duty" is forbidden, like hero, like juarez also ! And "of" !!! I should have bought shares on this, even 1cent every time anyone says "of' and i would already have an aston martin DB9 ! :D

I don't like minecraft (uninteresting to me) but i support a new little studio that tries to go on and is attacked by a "pseudo" big one, even if imadetheuniverse4fun is right, the registering of trademarks and patents are the same problem in the US, as almost anything can be one or the other, you end like thate : being sued for "nothing" important. It's not like if they called their project "oblivion of the scrolls" !
Cheddar Aug 06 2011, 03:15 pm EDT
I'd like to remind everyone how Bethesda's lawyers are also demanding "a pile of money" before the legal process even starts. Says it right there in the article.

Evidence of my whole point in that last post of mine.

Bethesda is trying to bully what it perceives to be a small-fry target they think they can get away with bullshitting. Mojang can easily, EASILY defeat this suit, but Bethesda is hoping Mojang will just be intimidated, roll over and submit.

But happily, it appears Mojang isn't so whimpy as that. Bethesda's bully gambit is already as good as failed, now it's just a question of whether or not Mojang ends up having to counter-sue to have Bethesda pay their legal fees for them.
thestewieman Aug 06 2011, 04:10 pm EDT
bethesda knows their future games are going to suck, so they are suing others for cash before it's too late and all their games BOMB...
thestewieman Aug 08 2011, 02:18 pm EDT
except for ID games they really don't have allot going for them


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