Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

October 4, 2011 -

We all know that Bethesda parent company Zenimax and Minecraft maker Mojang are headed to court to settle a trademark dispute over the term "Scrolls," but -- according to Markus 'Notch' Persson -- the whole ordeal could have been avoided. As you already know, Minecraft maker Mojang received a letter from Bethesda's lawyers asking them to "cease and desist" using the term "Scrolls" because it infringed on its "Elder Scrolls" trademark and would cause brand confusion.

Sometime after that happened, Persson claims that he offered to change the name of the game. He claims this conversation between his company and lawyers for Bethesda happened before his very public proclamation that Mojang would "fight this for as long as it takes" because "It's a bogus claim."

Yesterday he wrote the following short statement on his blog:

"I feel the need to clarify a couple of things:

We realized we should apply for the trademark 'Minecraft' to protect our brand. When doing so, we also sent in an application for 'Scrolls.' When Bethesda contacted us, we offered both to change the name to "Scrolls: [some subtitle]" and to give up the trademark.

They refused on both counts.

Whatever reason they have for suing us, it’s not a fear of us having a trademark on the word "Scrolls" as we’ve offered to give that up."

If true, then why would Bethesda continue to court? Perhaps to teach the small developer a lesson? We don't know, but we'll continue to follow this story as it develops.

Source: C&VG


Comments

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Here is something about Trademark Law that ​a lot​ of people don't realize and that a lot of media outlets (whether mainstream news media or bloggers) seem to forget: if a Trademark Holder (Bethesda in this instance) does not ​actively ​protect their Trademark they loose the protection their Registered Trademark as provided by law.

So while many people are bashing Bethesda for bringing this Trademark to court, they have to in order to keep their Registered Trademark.  This is nothing more than normal business proceedings.

 


Ruger is coming out with a new and intimidating pistol in honor of Senators and Congressmen.  It will be named "The Politician."  It doesn't work and you can't fire it!

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

However, if the Mojang is not actually infringing on their trademark, or if Mojang offered to stop using the name that is marginally close to Bethesda's trademark, then what you've just said is bunk.  Bethesda is under no obligation to pursue a lawsuit under those conditions.

They don't lose their protection by letting someone use something that doesn't impinge on their trademark.

Personally, I think Notch should just rename the game to "Geriatric Parchment" and be done with it.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

I say name it

Geriatric Parchment Cinco: Atmospherelip

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

That's always the excuse, but more often than not it's just a cover for bad behavior and bullying. Trademark does not grant exclusive control of the mark but can prevent others using it in misleading ways. There is little chance of a moron in a hurry confusing Mojang's Scrolls card game meets board game with The Elder Scrolls.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

That excuse can only go so far.  Should Epic, who made Gears of War, sue everyone who makes a game with the word "war" in the title?

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Right now this just seems like Bethesda is either trying to crush or swallow up Mojang.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

This whole thing is getting out of hand. Even if Bethesda somehow wins, they come out looking like d**ks. That could loose them a few fans, which is too bad because before this they were looked upon quite favorably by gamers.

-----------------------------------------

Managing Editor at TheBestGameSiteEver.com

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

It's rather strange Bethesda/ZeniMax is taking legal action, because their lawyers should be well-aware of the whole "Edge" dispute and how well that went.

Even if one particular person was continuing the lawsuit as some stubborn act of pride, it still makes no sense, because they're going to lose far more pride and be shamed far worse if they lose than if they had just accepted that the entire lawsuit has no grounds to begin with.

I also don't see the companies management lashing out at Mojang out of fear of Mojang becoming "too big". Whilst I can see the potential of Mojang becoming more than the name behind Minecraft, they're still nowhere near the level of Bethesda and it's unlikely that it will take one game and a few months to accomplish the same level of success.

Aside from this, Mojang's current game and it's proposed upcoming game don't have that much in relation to Bethesda's titles either, so I can't see Mojang taking some form of market share away from Bethesda in the sandbox RPG market just yet (both are sandbox games, yes, but entirely different variants).

Oh well. As I've said before: As much as I like Bethesda, I will still take great satisfaction in watching them crash and burn.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Bethesda saw how well this worked out for the 'Edge' guy and they wanted a piece of that action.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

I am starting to think what we are seeing is the surface effect of a power struggle inside Bethesda.. someone has built up political capital around this lawsuit and risks loosing face if they back down.

From a corporate perspective this endever is profitless.. but chances are someone is looking at either increasing their status within the company or risking loosing some, thus worrying about their career.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Bethesda is being so stupid here that I can't really understand what is what they want. For the looks of it, they want to damage their own image irreparably.

A lot of folks are saying that this is a lawyer thing, but I haven't seen a single soul from Bethesda speaking against this lunacy.

If Notch had called his game "The Elder Scrolls: Arena: Scrolls", I could understand it, but "Scrolls?". Really?.

No cookie, Bethesda. I'm not buying from you until you drop this.

Also, someone needs to abolish copyrights and patents and think a better system. This is just ridiculous and counter-productive for everybody but lawyers.

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

While I still think the Bethesda lawsuit is utter nonsense, it is slightly disingenuous to say Notch offered to "change the name" and stop there.  He offered to add a subtitle to the name "Scrolls". Not rename the thing entirely.

Regardless, Bethesda is wading into a potential PR nightmare.  Mojang is still the "little guy" even though they are quite financially successful for an indie.  

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Yeah, it's a copy/edit error (actually, the site thought the angle brackets was a tag).  It will be corrected soon.

EDIT: And it's fixed with the magic of a square brackets.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Notch: We Offered to Change the Name, Bethesda Said No

Okay, this hurts my head to even try to ponder what Bethesda is thinking.

"Cease and desist"

"Okay'

"Not good enough!"

Maybe they are trying to put a possible competitor out of business before they can get big?

 
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