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Author Topic: Notch sued by Bethesda over use of the word "Scrolls"  (Read 1680 times)
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Razgon
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« on: August 05, 2011, 04:26:01 PM »

According to RPS, who read Notch's twitter, they have sent a letter to him about the name of his next game , Scrolls and that it infringes on their trademarks.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/05/elder-scrolls-vs-notchs-scrolls/

*mind boggles*
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wonderpug
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 04:39:52 PM »

If Scrolls is going to be an open world exploration game like Minecraft then I can see them having a case, but it looks like Scrolls is some kind of board game card game hybrid?  I don't see there being any kind of brand confusion there. 
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2011, 04:42:12 PM »

As many of the comments related, he should change the name to "The Scroll's EDGE."  ninja2

This looks to be a cease and desist letter, not an actual suit (yet). Depending on how much he cares, he needs to talk to a lawyer. I pretty sure this is frivolous show-boating and that you can't claim the word "Scrolls."

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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 05:17:47 PM »

If he doesn't rename it "The Elder Trolls" I will be very disappointed.
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2011, 05:26:58 PM »

probably some pencil pusher in legal just being overzealous.  on the plus side this could be some good PR for Notch.


and I'm still buying Skyrim even if it is Bethesda actually being douchebags.
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2011, 05:58:10 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on August 05, 2011, 05:26:58 PM


and I'm still buying Skyrim even if it is Bethesda actually being douchebags.

rofl, you are crazy..   No "fighting the man" for ceekay when it comes to slaying dragons.
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Razgon
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2011, 07:38:15 PM »

Notch explains the full story : http://notch.tumblr.com/post/8519901309/bethesda-are-suing-us-heres-the-full-story
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM »

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 08:02:55 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

3 Million users and no publisher to pay... I think he's got resources...
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 08:09:37 PM »

He could always raise money by suing all of the XBox indie Minecraft clones, all of which look exactly like Minecraft and include either "mine" or "craft" in the title.
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 08:22:02 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

No, that's different. Burger is the product. It would be like someone coming out with a resteraunt called "Fast Food  King".

It is a variant on an established series title. Their claim is all about branding and protection, not about attacking him. They feel it encroaches on a game who's title is very similar, and perhaps they are putting "Elder Scrolls:Skyrim" as opposed to "Oblivion" which, while carrying the title of Elder Scrolls, did not figure prominently. They have a point. Perhaps being a little too touchy, but their claim is at least somewhat valid.

For example:

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp?title=scroll

One cannot have a racing game called Need for Fast, or a military FPS called Duty Calls. Why would you think a medievil game titled "Scrolls" is a good idea?

Frankly, Notch doesn't have a very defensible position.
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2011, 08:25:44 PM »

Quote from: Purge on August 05, 2011, 08:22:02 PM

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

No, that's different. Burger is the product. It would be like someone coming out with a small chain with Burgers n Fry King.

It is a variant on an established series. It is all about branding and protection, not about attacking him. They feel it encroaches on a game who's title is very similar, and perhaps they are putting "Elder Scrolls:Skyrim" as opposed to "Oblivion" which, while carrying the title of Elder Scrolls, did not figure prominently.

They have a point. Perhaps being a little too touchy, but their claim is at least somewhat valid.

For example:

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp?title=scroll

One cannot have a racing game called Need for Fast, or a military FPS called Duty Calls.

If we accept this then what about any game with the word Fantasy in it? Square could sue them. What about "Magic" or "Sword" Or "Super"?

Also Burger is the product and the subject. In this case the game's subject are Scrolls. So it is similar. The word is a description of the product.
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 08:37:43 PM »

"Edge"

stupid as that guy.
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 08:39:54 PM »

Quote from: ibdoomed on August 05, 2011, 08:02:55 PM

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

3 Million users and no publisher to pay... I think he's got resources...

aye, the company (which is the entity being sued) has made around 40-45 million dollars, so... I think he can afford it
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2011, 08:44:29 PM »

Quote from: Razgon on August 05, 2011, 08:39:54 PM

Quote from: ibdoomed on August 05, 2011, 08:02:55 PM

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

3 Million users and no publisher to pay... I think he's got resources...

aye, the company (which is the entity being sued) has made around 40-45 million dollars, so... I think he can afford it

Nice, I had no idea Minecraft made them that much money. Hopefully they don't accept Bethesda's bluff then.
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2011, 08:46:42 PM »

Well, its a loose estimate, but they have sold over 3 million copies now, with prices ranging between I think it was 8 dollars, 12 and now 15 dollars. But yeah, its pretty cool
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2011, 10:39:17 PM »

Quote from: Purge on August 05, 2011, 08:22:02 PM

Quote from: Scraper on August 05, 2011, 07:54:37 PM

This case has no merit. The problem is that I doubt Notch has the resources to properly defend it.

It would be like if Burger King tried to say no other restaurant could use the word Burger.

No, that's different. Burger is the product. It would be like someone coming out with a resteraunt called "Fast Food  King".

It is a variant on an established series title. Their claim is all about branding and protection, not about attacking him. They feel it encroaches on a game who's title is very similar, and perhaps they are putting "Elder Scrolls:Skyrim" as opposed to "Oblivion" which, while carrying the title of Elder Scrolls, did not figure prominently. They have a point. Perhaps being a little too touchy, but their claim is at least somewhat valid.

For example:

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp?title=scroll

One cannot have a racing game called Need for Fast, or a military FPS called Duty Calls. Why would you think a medievil game titled "Scrolls" is a good idea?

Frankly, Notch doesn't have a very defensible position.

I don't think this is accurate. Trademark is meant to distinguish a product or service or one party from another party. There is very little chance that consumers will confuse Mojang's Scrolls, which is fantasy genre but is a boardgame/cardgame style strategy for the PC only with The Elder Scrolls (not specifically Skyrim), a multi-platform first-person RPG.

What probably is most pressing, from Bethesda's perspective, is the URL of the promotional websites of each - which COULD be confused somewhat easily. They are www.scrolls.com and www.elderscrolls.com. Very similar.

But the move looks frivolous.
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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2011, 10:39:54 PM »

Quote from: Razgon on August 05, 2011, 08:46:42 PM

Well, its a loose estimate, but they have sold over 3 million copies now, with prices ranging between I think it was 8 dollars, 12 and now 15 dollars. But yeah, its pretty cool

Yeah, basically.

Also, as Notch explains, yes, Elder Scrolls is trademarked (or copyrighted). Does that give Bethesda the right to block any and all games coming out that have the word Elder or Scrolls in the title?

Fuck. No.

I think this is all about some lawyer for Bethesda doing his own thing and just randomly firing off a lawsuit because he's a fucktwat. Bethesda the company doesn't know about this, and as a friend put it, "I'm imagining a high level guy at Bethesda going, "What? We're suing indie gaming Jesus?!? Who signed off on that?!?"" biggrin
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2011, 10:49:51 PM »

Quote from: Destructor on August 05, 2011, 10:39:54 PM

Quote from: Razgon on August 05, 2011, 08:46:42 PM

Well, its a loose estimate, but they have sold over 3 million copies now, with prices ranging between I think it was 8 dollars, 12 and now 15 dollars. But yeah, its pretty cool

Yeah, basically.

Also, as Notch explains, yes, Elder Scrolls is trademarked (or copyrighted). Does that give Bethesda the right to block any and all games coming out that have the word Elder or Scrolls in the title?

Fuck. No.

I think this is all about some lawyer for Bethesda doing his own thing and just randomly firing off a lawsuit because he's a fucktwat. Bethesda the company doesn't know about this, and as a friend put it, "I'm imagining a high level guy at Bethesda going, "What? We're suing indie gaming Jesus?!? Who signed off on that?!?"" biggrin

One thing to remember is that Notch filed for the trademark with the USPTO, but I don't think it has been granted yet. There is a review period that all trademark applications go through, where the public gets a chance to challenge the filing. Bethesda's rightful move at this point would be to object to the trademark being granted by the USPTO office. So my guess is that this letter is mostly a bluff.
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2011, 11:36:29 PM »

Boycott Bethesda! Don't buy Skyrim!
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« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2011, 12:17:04 AM »

Also, Trademarks, if I recall, need to be enforced by the company to remain valid, or was that copyright in general. Bleh.
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2011, 12:47:45 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on August 06, 2011, 12:17:04 AM

Also, Trademarks, if I recall, need to be enforced by the company to remain valid, or was that copyright in general. Bleh.

Yes.

And once again, it shows that the copyright industry is a total mess.
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2011, 12:49:00 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on August 06, 2011, 12:17:04 AM

Also, Trademarks, if I recall, need to be enforced by the company to remain valid, or was that copyright in general. Bleh.

Technically trademarks do, but I don't know if there's an accepted standard or definition of what constitutes adequate vs. inadequate enforcement.  I believe it's a rare event that trademarks are just suddenly removed from active companies on the basis of lack of enforcement.

I think it's less cut-and-dried than forum gamers would like to believe.  People on forums thought that the "Fallout trilogy" from Interplay without Fallout 3 in it was all fine and good too.  As someone with a financial interest in Fallout 3, I did not think it was all fine and good.  That said, suing the guy who is basically the Avatar of indie gaming right now is a terrible move, definitely the work of some lawyer deep in his Law Cave, and hopefully they can just work it out amicably behind-the-scenes.  That should've been the route to take from the start.  

I'm sure Notch, deservingly so, has plenty of money but that hardly means fighting a lawsuit is desirable.  IMO this is a perfect opportunity to realize "Scrolls" is a boring, generic name, and change it to something better smile
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« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2011, 03:27:13 AM »

I think way too much is being made over this.  This isnt a law suit and pushing it as such seems disingenuous at best. All it is, is Bethesda establishing their position in protecting the rights and title to what has proven to be a very lucrative brand.  This a is pretty standard action, actually. And with Notchs company trying to trademark the word "scrolls", I think Bethesda felt the need to establish their position immediately.  Even if this goes to court and Bethesda loses, it still establishes their intent to protect their property.  Under the circumstances, I not only dont see it as frivolous, I see it as a smart move on Bethesdas part.
 Notch seems to be playing the Big bully vs the little guy card on this one and frankly Im not seeing him as much of a little guy anymore.  Im also finding the Notch hero-worship to be a bit creepy as of late.  Kudos to the guy for taking an ugly video game and making millions off it but when you step up to the big leagues, you had better be ready to face some heavy hitters or youre going to get your ass kicked back to the minors.  Make a stand legally or back off respectfully but how about not being so bush league about it.  To be honest, my respect for him has just gone down a notch.
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM »

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.
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« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2011, 06:59:10 AM »

Quote from: Purge on August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.

because the 2 games are so similar and so are the names, right? I can see how one can confuse Scrolls with The elder scrolls V:Skyrim. Pretty much close. Let's not forget there's call of jaurez(orwhatever the spelling is) and call of duty.

my how quick people are to forget.

i should note that i don't get minecraft either, looks boring as shit. but this is a retarded lawsuit no matter what.
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« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2011, 08:11:37 AM »

Keep in mind their name reaches beyond the current games. What if they are working on an Elder Scrolls card game? In this case the names could be legitimately confusing. Since they have established the name they have every right to use it for whatever type of game they like.

That said I expect they will back down on this one for PR reasons. It doesn't help to pick on small devs.
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« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2011, 11:19:19 AM »

Quote from: Purge on August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.

He wouldn't be making a stink about it if Bethesda had not sent him the letter threatening to sue him. So actually Bethesda is the one making the stink, not him, he is only defending himself in the court of public opinion. And doing a fine job of it too.
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« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2011, 02:38:14 PM »

Quote from: Scraper on August 06, 2011, 11:19:19 AM

Quote from: Purge on August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.

He wouldn't be making a stink about it if Bethesda had not sent him the letter threatening to sue him. So actually Bethesda is the one making the stink, not him, he is only defending himself in the court of public opinion. And doing a fine job of it too.

Why couldn't he just keep it a private thing between them and him?  No need to go paste it all over the Internet.  I agree they were a dick to him to send it, but he's a dick for making sure he wasn't the only one who knew that.  He could have been the bigger person.
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« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2011, 03:11:42 PM »

Quote from: Purge on August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.

Your feelings on minecraft are irrelevant.

Gathering public support is exactly what he wants to do. As I stated, Trademark is often about demonstrating that your product has recognizable branding separate from another product, so courting consumer input is a good idea.
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« Reply #30 on: August 06, 2011, 04:10:54 PM »

To be honest, I can't fault either side in this matter. It may just be the word "Scrolls," but it's still close to The Elder Scrolls as it is, they have to at least look into it to, "protect their trademark." I'm not sure if filing papers like this was really needed though.

Meanwhile, Notch is going to the masses, but he kind of needs our support. A millionaire he may be, but legal fees for a fight on this scale may cost a great deal. That said, it could be easier for him to just add in an extra word to his game title, like Magic Scrolls or something and Bethesda would have less of a case, especially of Scrolls' aesthetic and gameplay style were quite different.
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« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2011, 04:22:01 PM »

Quote from: baelthazar on August 06, 2011, 03:11:42 PM

As I stated, Trademark is often about demonstrating that your product has recognizable branding separate from another product

Which is exactly what Bethesda did through standard legal channels.  Notch goes lowball through Twitter and Bethesda is the bad guy?  If Notch though his claim was so cut and dry legally, he would defend his position without going through Twitter.  He must be concerned about his legal standing on this.  Going through the court of public opinion is a good idea, if your legal position is weak.  Playing it up as David vs Goliath is simply a tactic to use the public to do his legal work for him.
 This isnt a black and white situation and theres no right side here.  Both sides are trying to protect their brands.  Notchs company actually fired the first salvo in trying to trademark the word "scrolls"  Bethesda has replied in an effort to protect their long established brand name and quite honesty would have been foolish not to.  Its far easier, legally, to establish your position now, than to try to do it after Notch grabs a trademark on "scrolls" 
 People can suck up to Notch and his little guy image all they want, but the bottom line is Notch first stepped on the big dogs tail and now the dog is barking.
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« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2011, 08:44:37 PM »

I don't find fault with Notch AT ALL.  Bethesda is being ridiculous and that's exactly how it should be treated.  It's a WTF moment and that's all he's saying.

I think Nintendo should sue Gearbox for their use of "Brothers" in "Brothers in Arms" since it clearly infringes on Mario Brothers.
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« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2011, 06:59:38 PM »

If you look at the Scrolls title logo I can see where Bethesda might not be wondering what the intent is.  There are similarities.  And even if Scrolls is a card game, it still has the potential to infringe (or take advantage) of Bethesda's own product because of the title, logo, and other aspects.   That's where Bethesda is coming from.

Besides, its not like it would be hard for Notch to change the name of their game.  That stuff happens all the time for various reasons. 
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« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2011, 10:36:35 PM »

Quote from: kathode on August 06, 2011, 12:49:00 AM

Quote from: Turtle on August 06, 2011, 12:17:04 AM

Also, Trademarks, if I recall, need to be enforced by the company to remain valid, or was that copyright in general. Bleh.
Technically trademarks do, but I don't know if there's an accepted standard or definition of what constitutes adequate vs. inadequate enforcement.  I believe it's a rare event that trademarks are just suddenly removed from active companies on the basis of lack of enforcement.

That's not the point. They have to defend their mark. If they don't, then someone else could come along and use that fact against them. This isn't necessarily about the Notch game, but also anyone else that might come after. It might be a stupid system in some ways but that is how the system works.

The fact that people get bent out of shape whenever a case comes up like this just shows they don't understand how trademarks work. Now, there may have been a less noxious way for them to defend their mark, I'm not an expert. But a C&D order doesn't  necessarily mean a damn thing, it's just a proverbial warning shot over the bow.
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« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2011, 10:44:55 PM »

Quote from: Misguided on August 07, 2011, 10:36:35 PM

Quote from: kathode on August 06, 2011, 12:49:00 AM

Quote from: Turtle on August 06, 2011, 12:17:04 AM

Also, Trademarks, if I recall, need to be enforced by the company to remain valid, or was that copyright in general. Bleh.
Technically trademarks do, but I don't know if there's an accepted standard or definition of what constitutes adequate vs. inadequate enforcement.  I believe it's a rare event that trademarks are just suddenly removed from active companies on the basis of lack of enforcement.

That's not the point. They have to defend their mark. If they don't, then someone else could come along and use that fact against them. This isn't necessarily about the Notch game, but also anyone else that might come after. It might be a stupid system in some ways but that is how the system works.

The fact that people get bent out of shape whenever a case comes up like this just shows they don't understand how trademarks work. Now, there may have been a less noxious way for them to defend their mark, I'm not an expert. But a C&D order doesn't  necessarily mean a damn thing, it's just a proverbial warning shot over the bow.

As I said earlier it is a warning shot. The proper thing for Bethesda to do now would be to object to the trademark being granted in the first place. If they are in the right then the trademark will be rejected.
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« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2011, 03:54:50 AM »

Quote from: baelthazar on August 06, 2011, 03:11:42 PM

Quote from: Purge on August 06, 2011, 03:51:49 AM

As I see it, he's the one making the stink about it. They're moving to protect their interests, and he's running to the public to garner support.

Also, I hate minecraft.

Your feelings on minecraft are irrelevant.

Gathering public support is exactly what he wants to do. As I stated, Trademark is often about demonstrating that your product has recognizable branding separate from another product, so courting consumer input is a good idea.

Waitwaitwaitwait...

my feeling about minecraft, Notch's big hit, is irrelevant, and then you come into a conversation playing the public opinion tune?  Really? Because my opinion of the game does impact the public opinion in that I was willing to speak out and say Hey, that ain't right. I've also noticed that the focus is on Bethesda VS. lil' ol' Notch, when really it's against "Mojang" - the company registering trademarks who are developing "Scrolls". Personalizing it gives the framing that Notch is looking for - public outcry for poor Notch who wants to take a chunk of someone else's trademark.

As I see it, buddy here is applying for a new trademark on the coattails of a product series that has decades of established market identity. As someone who writes (and occasionally reads slywink ) reviews and all that entails, I can tell you that a comment like "The next 'Scrolls game looks amazing!" is a fair statement, and the brand recognition is there. I don't need to say Skyrim, I don't need to say THE ELDER SCROLLS V. I can use them, but when writing paragraph after paragraph, it's important to switch things up. Brand recognition is just about the best thing in the world to these companies-  when BestBuy bought FutureShop here in Canada, they were going to change all the stores to BestBuy. Then they got the marketing information that Futureshop has a 98% brand recognition in Canada, and they just opened BestBuy stores to compete indirectly with FutureShop (they carry different mfgrs for example).

Mojang.com right now is the top hit for "scrolls game" on Google - does that sound right to you? An as-of-yet-unreleased card game beating out a company that has games like Oblivion and Morrowind under their belts, and garnering positive press for their newly announced followup, all on the back of one java game that managed to ring some bells? I mean, power to them, I hope they do well, and I hope the card game works too. That doesn't mean they get Bethesda's parking spot though, and I think it's fair for Bethsoft to call them on their infringing trademark.

The games are dissimilar, and while the point brought up where perhaps Bethsoft may be planning a card game possible (not that I've heard anything) - it's not Bethesda defending its wealth of video games based on card games, or trying to copyright the letter B. They aren't trying to crush "Notch's" dreams of having a card game released. He just can't use the Scrolls name as he's applied for it. Perhaps Scrolls of Ruin, or something that has some significance other than generic "scrolls".

As for the comments about Brothers in Arms vs Mario Brothers - BIA is a term that stands by itself. Were someone to come up with a Mario Siblings game, N would crush them.

Lastly, Call of Juarez vs Call of Duty - I don't know if there was a fight over this, but the Call of Duty series vs. Call of Juarez may have been because the game originated in a foreign market and it being established they had to let it go. Who knows, perhaps a "Call to Arms" game will come out to piss of both COD and BIA camps. slywink

« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 04:03:22 AM by Purge » Logged

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Harkonis
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« Reply #37 on: August 08, 2011, 10:17:35 AM »

Purge, you may be the only person I know that would think of Skyrim when they hear 'the next Scrolls game'
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Razgon
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« Reply #38 on: August 08, 2011, 10:23:16 AM »

As someone else noted, if Notch got the "Scrolls" trademark, they could potentially be damaging to the Elder Scrolls trademark, in that they could claim Scrolls was now Notch's, and not Bethesda's.
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A new one
Harkonis
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« Reply #39 on: August 08, 2011, 11:02:26 AM »

Whatever happened to trademarks requiring the entire thing to be present.  I mean Lucas can't sue a company for making a movie called Wars or Star.  This just all seems pretty ridiculous.

I think I'll make a game called The and then sue everyone with The in their titles.
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