Bethesda Doesn't Enjoy Being "Forced" into Mojang Lawsuit

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Bethesda Doesn't Enjoy Being "Forced" into Mojang Lawsuit

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Neither Mojang nor Bethesda wanted a lawsuit, but international copyright law is a harsh mistress.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the Mojang vs. Bethesda lawsuit, here's a brief summary: Minecraft creator Notch wants to call his next game Scrolls. Bethesda feels this is too close to its decades-old Elder Scrolls copyright. Now, sparks are flying as the two sides gear up for a court battle. Bethesda wants to protect customers from potential confusion, while Notch believes that Bethesda is being too draconian in enforcing its trademark.

Mojang's efforts to assuage Bethesda by offering to forego a trademark fell on deaf ears. "We wanted to end things in a friendly way where we met them half-way," said Markus "Notch" Persson. I am a huge fan of Bethesda's work ... Picking a fight with my idols seemed like a silly idea."

Although Notch's ideas are diplomatic, international copyright law is rarely clear-cut enough for a 50/50 compromise. The United States Patent and Trademark Office, after reviewing the facts at hand, concluded that "[Regarding] 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." In other words, the U.S. government believes that removing a single word will not make consumers any less likely to conflate Scrolls and The Elder Scrolls. This conundrum gets even more confusing, since the lawsuit will take place in Swedish courts, and U.S. copyright legality may not hold much water overseas.

Pete Hines, a VP at Bethesda, maintains that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the studio's creative team and everything to do with the legal technicalities of trademarks. "This is a business matter based on how trademark law works and it will continue to be dealt with by lawyers who understand it, not by me or our developers," he explained. "Nobody here enjoys being forced into this. Hopefully it will all be resolved soon."

Mojang's desired use of the word "scrolls" seems innocent enough, but if Bethesda does not protect its copyright, other companies could produce deliberately-confusing titles like The Eldest Scrolls: Skyrings and leave Bethesda with no legal recourse. "Failing to protect a trademark could be damaging to an owner's rights," said Angela Bozzuti, a trademark law attorney. "Not only could it result in actual consumer confusion, but it could also weaken the strength of the mark in the marketplace. Furthermore ... it will likely weaken [Bethesda's] mark and make protection difficult and limited."

Now, Bethesda, Mojang, and the governments of Sweden and the U.S. all have resources invested in this case. Coming to a solution - much less one that pleases all parties - won't be easy.

Source: Kotaku

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EDIT= Wow so many quotes, (some of which were kinda funny)- yes I know it could set an ugly precedent, but is the law really that blind? I mean "Scrolls" is fairly inert whereas "Skyrings" is blatant.

So... That one guy who trademarked "Edge" had a case after all? Or am I totally missing the point here?

Oh, it'll be in Sweden? Bethesda has no chance. Swedish law is very free, especially on arts and copyright. Remember that one country that refuses to believe what The Pirate Bay is doing is illegal? Yeah, that's Sweden.

Now I'm all for protecting your copyrights and stuff, but considering that Notch has made TONS of efforts to compromise and Bethesda hasn't done jack shit, I'm going to hope that Bethesda loses; which they will, because this is in Sweden.

Bethesda, call the lawyers off Notch already. You need the help stomping Interplay's balls into the ground over FOOL.

Metalhandkerchief:
Remember that one country that refuses to believe what The Pirate Bay is doing is illegal?

That's because TPB isn't doing anything illegal. But that's for another thread entirely.

Why is it in Sweden? USA to costly?

Summary? American Copyright Law is an ass and desperately needs to be changed.

Igen:
Why is it in Sweden? USA to costly?

The defendant, Notch, is Swedish. All court cases take place in the defendant's home country. It's definitely not cost, if it was about cost, the Scandinavian countries would be the last place on earth you'd want to be.

While I'm really happy that you guys have finally pointed out the developers at Bethesda have nothing to do with this(hopefully discouraging that retarded boycott), I think this article was just a little biased. Last I checked, the issue here was that Mojang was trying to claim ownership of the word "scrolls", and that Bethesda was trying to stop him, for obvious reasons.

Like I said the LAST time this came up, just tell me if I'm wrong. I don't claim to be a legal expert. But that's my understanding of the issue, from reading the articles on this site.

The silliest thing about this is that noone actually refers to these games as "The Elder Scrolls."

I sympathise with Bethesda, a little bit, but it's not the title of Mojang's game that needs changed. It's these idiotic laws.

Bethesda isn't being forced into anything. Who pays these lawyers? On whose behalf is the suit filed? What a steaming loaf. Seems Bethesda is just another little EA corporate factory in the making.

The easiest solution for Bethesda, if they really feel like they're being forced into this, is to win the case, and then pay for the cost of court for both parties. That way, no one would think any less of them for protecting their own trademarks.

I don't get why Mojang doesn't just add a word or two, so there is a clear difference. In terms of court proceedings, Bethesda makes a great point. You throw a little leeway legally, and it can fuck up future cases from then on out. So yeah, while it may seem trivial and childish, it does have its place here. I'm sure it will be resolved pretty quickly and without much court interaction.

Well this is all very confusing, now if you will excuse me I'm off to play Scrolls, OR DO I MEAN OBLIVION I DONT KNOW IM SO CONFUSED

Sixcess:
The silliest thing about this is that noone actually refers to these games as "The Elder Scrolls."

I sympathise with Bethesda, a little bit, but it's not the title of Mojang's game that needs changed. It's these idiotic laws.

Yes, but until those laws change, Bethesda doesn't really have a choice. If they don't fight this, then they can't fight the guy who makes "The Older Scrolls: Flyrim." It's not Bethesda just being ornery; the US Trademark office said that Notch's offer to add a subhead to Scrolls (i.e. Scrolls: The Something-or-Other) wasn't enough to differentiate it from The Elder Scrolls. Given that ruling, and the vagaries of copyright law, there's not a whole lot of wiggle room here.

Does it defy common sense in a lot of ways? I don't think anyone's arguing that point at all. But the law is pretty clear in this case.

Trademark Law is stupid. You want to trademark a phrase like Elder Scrolls fine, but then no-one can use any of the words in that phrase. Even though the constituent words are used in everyday language. No that's wrong.

Using this logic you now cannot name a game:
Gears
War
Bad
Company
Call
Duty
Elder
Scrolls
Grand
Theft
Auto
Need
Speed
etc

I could go on. Obviously it does not take long before most of the dictionary is gone.

I don't particularly blame Bethesda as they are doing what the law allows. This law needs reform quick as it is not moral to have ownership of commonly used English words. You make up a word, then fine. But otherwise hands off of corporate ownership of single words.

Are we sure someones not making this up?
It sounds more riduculous by the day...

The_root_of_all_evil:
Summary? American Copyright Law is an ass and desperately needs to be changed.

I agree. This would have worked if the copyright claim was before the internet, in an age where people would only rarely come into contact with anything we find trivial today, but now with the internet anyone with two halves of a brain cell to rub together can look up any two games on Wikipeida with similar names and see who developed/published them.

This is *trademark* law not copyright law. While they all fall under the category of IP law they are not the same.

There are two important things with trademark. First, it is an entirely consumer driven protection, a lawsuit is won or loss on whether a common person would be confused. Second, if you do not actively defend a trademark then you forfeit its use essentially. Towards the second point a C&D might have been sufficient before Mojang made any legal move towards the trademark but now it may be impossible to 'let it slide'.

Because Mojang are trademarking Scrolls to make a game called "The Eldest Scrolls: Skyrings"...
Notch is deliberately trying to cause confusion rather than just have a game called Scrolls.

I'm pretty sure Quake and Doom and Rage are all trademarked. They are all single word titles for games. I fail to see the issue here. Especially since no one refers to TES as Scrolls.

I still understand how you can copyright elder scrolls and have it extend tot he word scrolls by itself. Do they own the world scrolls? do I have to pay them everytime I use it anywhere?

Makes me kind of sad knowing Bethesda thinks im so stupid that I cant tell the difference between "Scrolls" and "Elder Scrolls". Anyways, i'm off to play Modern Battlefield Warfare 3 demo!

:D
Now I can finally learn about what my homecountry does in cases like this!
I've heard that we are very..... hardhanded with cases like this. Should be fun! OH AND I CAN WATCH THE COURTROOM CASE :D (or can i?....).

Sounds like this is a bureaucratic thing though. If they don't take Mojang to court, then they cant complain the next time someone uses scrolls as a trademark. And if they do, they are likely to lose. I'm still on Mojang's side

(captcha: ulick! businesses.... no, no i don't.)

Nicolaus99:
Bethesda isn't being forced into anything. Who pays these lawyers? On whose behalf is the suit filed? What a steaming loaf. Seems Bethesda is just another little EA corporate factory in the making.

To answer both your questions, Zenimax, the owners of Bethesda.

"We wanted to end things in a friendly way where we met them half-way," said Markus "Notch" Persson.

Ugh, no he did not, he offered to change it to "Scrolls: (insert subtitle)" which doesn't address the problem at all, Notch is being just as silly as Bethesda on this one

All of you are thinking about this as hardcore gamers. Oh course, *you* know the difference. Try to view this from the point of an outsider. The point Bethesda makes is correct.

That's complete bullshit, it makes it sound like they're being somehow compelled to sue Mojang, like Lady Liberty has a gun to their heads. They could just as easily ignore the fact the title of Mojang's game has a single word from their title. If someone actually did come up with a game title named Eldest Scrolls: Skrying, they would have an actual case. One word, a common ordinary word in the english language, does not copy-infringement make.

Not suing Mojang over Scrolls would not, in anyway, impact any future lawsuits against someone who used Eldest Scrolls.

Sorry, Bethesda, these excuses aren't helping you.

Though I'm still totally buying Skyrim :P

georgelangham:

Metalhandkerchief:
Remember that one country that ackowledges what The Pirate Bay is doing is legal? Yeah, that's Sweden.

Fixed

Oh no... My words... You broke them

To clarify, TPB is legally in the clear to display torrents that private entities choose to "publish". It is however illegal of them not to remove illegal content within a reasonable time frame.

Zero moderation = illegal

Furioso:
"We wanted to end things in a friendly way where we met them half-way," said Markus "Notch" Persson.

Ugh, no he did not, he offered to change it to "Scrolls: (insert subtitle)" which doesn't address the problem at all, Notch is being just as silly as Bethesda on this one

Quoted for truth. Once he has aquired the legal use of "Scrolls", he can affix any subtitle he wants, thus he is able to make a game called "Scrolls: Orb Livin'" or "Scrolls: Tomorrow, Wind".

"but if Bethesda does not protect its copyright, other companies could produce deliberately-confusing titles like The Eldest Scrolls: Skyrings and leave Bethesda with no legal recourse."

Nonsensical, that to let something vaguely remotely get a free pass means you will then be unable to pursue action against clearly compromising others... Lawyers just want to get paaaaaid!

Togs:
Kinda cliched response but Bethesda if your not happy back out- your being mildly ridiculous from where Im standing.

Actually Bethesda can't, because of what was said right here:

Marshall Honorof:

Mojang's desired use of the word "scrolls" seems innocent enough, but if Bethesda does not protect its copyright, other companies could produce deliberately-confusing titles like The Eldest Scrolls: Skyrings and leave Bethesda with no legal recourse. "Failing to protect a trademark could be damaging to an owner's rights," said Angela Bozzuti, a trademark law attorney. "Not only could it result in actual consumer confusion, but it could also weaken the strength of the mark in the marketplace. Furthermore ... it will likely weaken [Bethesda's] mark and make protection difficult and limited."

It's completely true. If Bethesda lets Mojang use "Scrolls" with the same trademark idea, then people WILL use "Eldest Scrolls" or "Eldarian Scrolls" or "Scrolls of the Elders" and the courts would simply say "Well this started with Mojang, and you let HIM"

It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't.

A lot of people don't understand that 80% of the outcome of a court case is "What precedent is this going to cause?" It's a lot more complicated than "You're being a whiny bitch Bethesda!"

couldnt this all be solved with a licencing agreement or something? heck, no money needs ot change hands, just reach a licencing agreement that allows notch to name his game scrolls.

or is that not possilbe with how copyright law works? please correct me if im wrong, which i probably am

Kenjitsuka:
"but if Bethesda does not protect its copyright, other companies could produce deliberately-confusing titles like The Eldest Scrolls: Skyrings and leave Bethesda with no legal recourse."

Nonsensical, that to let something vaguely remotely get a free pass means you will then be unable to pursue action against clearly compromising others... Lawyers just want to get paaaaaid!

Not nonsensical at al. Read my above post, but it sums it up. The moment ANY court case is settled, that court case can now be used as precedent in the next court case. If Bethesda lets Mojang go, but sues "Scrolls of the Elders", then "Scrolls of the Elders" will just say "You let Mojang's Scrolls go, and it had the same copy right definition" and the courts will say "You're right" and Bethesda would actually have no case.

emeraldrafael:
I still understand how you can copyright elder scrolls and have it extend tot he word scrolls by itself. Do they own the world scrolls? do I have to pay them everytime I use it anywhere?

It isn't copyright. They don't own any words. What they 'own' is the ability to put the label Elder Scrolls on any item that would mark their particular trade. In other words Elder Scrolls is a useful way to determine the origin/maker of a game. Now if you made a game and called it Scrolls: ... would a common person (not a gamer but anyone off the street) be possibly confused by that name and think it might possibly be created by the Elder Scrolls people. If they would be confused it is a trademark violation as you are marking your product in a way that might cause people to assume it was made by another (hopefully trusted) entity.

Of all the IP in existence (trademark, copyright, patent, etc) trademark is probably the most intelligent. Its only concern is confusing consumers, no more and no less.

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