Minecraft studio ambushed by Bethesdas lawyers over Scrolls

Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson is facing legal action from Bethesda over his Mojang Studios’s use of the title ‘Scrolls’ for its next game. Earlier today, the indie studio co-founderannounced on Twitter that (opens in new tab)he received a legalese manifesto from Bethesda’s lawyers claiming that the title of Mojang’s next game infringes on its Elder Scrolls trademark, and that the similarity may create confusion upon Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s release.

Shortly after announcing his legal troubles, Persson posted, “I still proofof “lawyers being lawyers” with a snapshot of the 15-page document written in Swedish. Kotakutranslated the opening (opens in new tab)of the statement to read:

“The sign Scrolls exhibit significant visual, aural and conceptual similarities with my principal’s trademark The Elder Scrolls,” Bethesda’s lawyers said, according to a Google Translation of the letter, written in Swedish and Tweeted by Persson today. “These similarities are reinforced by the fact that in the entertainment industry, including the computer games industry it is common practice for goods and services with a common commercial origin to be marketed as characterized by are constructed from a common brand elements.For example, the company Nintendo’s world famous Mario series with game titles like Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros., or company Blizzard’s Warcraft series of games titles such as Warcraft Orcs and Humans and the World of Warcraft…. there is a clear risk to the average consumer to get the idea that goods and/or services provided under the sign Scroll and The Elder Scrolls from the same commercial origin or at least from economically-linked undertakings. Against this background, it is our opinion that Mojang’s use of the sign Scrolls constitutes an infringement of my principal.”

Most recently, Notch took tohis blog (opens in new tab)to post his thoughts on the lawsuit. In his latest post, he re-affirms his affinity for Bethesda, and details earlier talks with the studio in which it agreed to let Mojang continue with its name provided no words were added to the beginning of the title. Now, however, that early compromise seems to have been forgotten as Notch reports the AAA developer has already paid the legal fees required to pursue the suit, and is ready to take Mojang to court.

Mojang’s Scrolls is a game being overseen by Persson’s partner, Jakob Porser, and is reported to be card-based board game hybrid. That’s a far cry from the epic open-world fantasy Bethesda has cooking. And really, if consumers don’t know enough to do an ounce of research or read the back of the box, perhaps spending money on the wrong ‘Scrolls’ will be lesson well learned.

We’ve contacted Bethesda for their take on the suit, and will update as per their comments when and if we hear back.

Aug 5, 2011

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