Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

October 7, 2011 -

This Kotaku post on the continued trademark dispute between lawyers for Minecraft developer Mojang and Elder Scrolls series developer Bethesda offers some interesting quotes from Bethesda VP Peter Hines, and attorney Angela Bozzuti from Davis & Gilbert LLP in New York City.

As you already know, Mojang founder Markus "Notch" Persson said earlier this week that his company tried to appease Bethesda parent company Zenimax when it came to his upcoming Scrolls game, including offering to change the name by adding a sub-title to it. He claims they rejected all the options that he presented to them.

Persson told Kotaku that the best-case scenario for his company is that they win in court and are paid for their legal fees:

"We win, and they compensate us for our legal costs," said Persson by email.

But Peter Hines puts it all in perspective:

"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," said Pete Hines, VP at Bethesda. "Nobody here enjoys being forced into this. Hopefully it will all be resolved soon."

When it comes to trademarks, companies that don't enforce them probably shouldn't own them, according to most trademark experts. Angela Bozzuti points out to Kotaku that Trademark owners have a duty to protect their marks or risk losing rights to them:

"Trademark owners have a duty to protect their marks and should enforce their rights," said Angela Bozzuti, an associate specializing in trademark law at Davis & Gilbert LLP in New York City. "Trademarks are source identifiers and are often among a company's most valuable assets. If they allow third parties to infringe their trademark rights without taking action, they can eventually lose their marks. "

"The standard is not whether the respective marks and relevant goods and services are identical," adds Bozzuti, "but whether consumers are likely to be confused. Here, the question is whether Mojang's use of the name for games is likely to cause consumers to wrongly think that 'Scrolls' is connected to Zenimax or its 'The Elder Scrolls' games."

Bozzuti concludes by saying that Zenimax will be taking this show on the road to other territories because in order for the company to stop Mojang from using the name in the U.S. it will have to get an injunction in a U.S. court.

Source: Kotaku


Comments

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

I've been mum about this, and not just on here, because I wanted to actually hear from Bethesda itself, not just Notch, before I really even formulated an opinion, let alone voiced it.

I am disappointed, but not surprised. When it comes to making deep, immersive role-playing games, Bethesda is in a class of its own. But its management sucks ass. Pete Hines is an asshole, and I'm really glad Ken Rolston jumped ship and is working for 38 Studios now.

I'm officially done with Bethesda. I've absolutely had it. I was really looking forward to Skyrim, but I cannot in good conscience support a company that would just let its lawyers run loose terrorizing smaller developers like Mojang.

When you're in charge, it is your responsibility to keep all your employees in line, and that includes your blood-sucking lawyers. They get out of hand, which Bethesda's are clearly doing right now, it is your job to crack that whip and yell: "NO! BAD!". Of course, I really doubt this is in fact a case of Pete Hines being a spineless idiot who can't get a handle on his lawyers. I think this is about crushing the competition, and what better way to do that than through bankrupting little developers like Mojang with legal fees, or a huge settlement?

Never, ever thought I'd say this, but I hope Minecraft hands Skyrim its ass on a silver platter. I really do. This is straight-up bullshit on Bethesda's part.

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Isn't this the same thing Tim Langdell did....

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

YES.  It is.  And I am so tired of people defending Bethesda.  Besthesda does not "need" to defend a nonexistent trademark on a single word.  This is why companies specifically choose unique, trademark enforceable names, like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Initech, etc. 

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Cases like this show that trademark law is ancient and should be abolished.

And PR BS like Peter Hines' means that I'm not buying from Bethesda anymore. If Notch had tried to call his game "The Old Scrolls" or whatever, perhaps I could swallow it, but damn me if I'm going to give money to a company that believes they can sue anyone that calls their game "Scrolls". They don't own the dictionary!.

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

I bet if Bethesda came out and publicly declared that they don't consider there to be any confusion about a role playing game called Elder Scrolls and a card game called Scrolls, that would more than satisfy the trademark protection regulations.

Instead we get this weasel-worded crap about 'yea, this is how the laws work".

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

That's a bunch of manure.

They own a trademark for Elder Scrolls, not Scrolls.

Anyone with half a brain knows their legal action is ridiculous.

I'm done paying for Bethesda's lawyers. No more Bethesda games for me, ever, regardless of whether they win or lose this case.

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Why do I get the feeling that their legal costs would be just enough to put Mojang out of business?

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

I don't pretend to be an expert on this sort of thing, but I believe in cases such as this, lawyers working on a company's behalf work mostly autonomously.  The guys running the company trust that their lawyers are working in the company's best interest. 

 

Compare a case I read about some years ago, where a newspaper was sent a cease and desist, because one of their writers used the name Bill Wyman.  Oddly enough, this was because he was named Bill Wyman, yet lawyers working on behalf of the zombie-looking Rolling Stones bassist of the same name claimed the reporter was intentionally misusing and exploiting their client's name.  Because so many people are going to see the name Bill Wyman in a local paper and assume that a big time musician is on staff, I'm sure.

I get the feeling this may be less to do with corporate greed or anti-competitive practice, and more to do with overpowered lawyers.

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Confuse the two games? What kind of idiot would do that? This is anti-competitive behavior beyond a doubt. They want the search engines to show only their games when someone searches the word "scrolls". Anything hits that don't link to them is a potential loss to a competitor. Big companies don't want to just sell to their market, they want to own their market. That's why we see these stupid, trademark and patent lawsuits day after day.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Such as the numerous lawsuits coming out over the DS and the Wii over a year after release.

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Nobody here enjoys being forced into this.

​Now there is a cop out.  You are the ones forcing it, you are a VP in the company forcing it.. this is your decision... take some responsibility for your PR blunder or at least hire lawyers who do what you tell them to do instead of them telling you what they are going to do.

Though I am still half hoping that they try to sue someone over "Oblivion"...

Re: Bethesda Comments on Mojang Trademark Dispute

Took the text right out of my keyboard. After throwing the first punch, you can't blame it on circumstantial events and then say, "Well, no one likes to fight."

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