If someone were to take a look at the world of popular media these days, it wouldn’t take long to figure out just how imitative pop culture has become. We’ve given up on counting the number of games with ‘dungeon,’ ‘dragon,’ ‘quest’ or ‘age’ in the title, but it seems that there are still a few nouns that are off limits. At least, that’s according to Bethesda’s legal team. With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim set to release this November, Minecraft developer Mojang has been informed that their upcoming collectible card game Scrolls is infringing on the company’s trademark. It turns out rolled up bits of paper can still be relevant in this digital age, after all.
Let’s just say what everyone who’s familiar with the upcoming title Scrolls is likely already thinking: there is almost no similarity between the two games, one being an epic open-world console RPG, and the other being a new twist on collectible card games. They both share a basis in the world of medieval fantasy (what RPG doesn’t these days?), but it’s the inclusion of the word ‘scrolls’ that’s gotten Bethesda’s hackles up.
Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson revealed via Twitter that the use of an ancient paper roll in a game’s title has apparently been deemed unacceptable by Bethesda’s lawayers:
“Just got a letter from Bethesta’s lawyers. They claim “Scrolls” infringes on their trademark and everyone will confuse it with Skyrim.”
“I still <3 Bethesda. This is hopefully just lawyers being lawyers.”
“Again, to be clear, the devs at Bethesda are cool people! This is their lawyers. They’re a very big company now.”
“I’ve got a feeling this is more ZeniMax’s influence than Bethesda’s.. I’ve spoken to bethesda people before, and they’re great”
We’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. We’ll be honest, we half expected Minecraft to be mentioned in some kind of trademark infringement case, what with their fan base using the game to create all new Zelda adventures, or even recreations of Left 4 Dead. We won’t even get into the fact that Blizzard has been just fine with the developers’ use of the word ‘craft.’ But to be served papers because you use one of the same nouns as the title of another publisher’s game is ridiculous.
We’ll join Notch in hoping that this is a case of the legal team at Zenimax having a bit too much time on their hands, because this move seems a bit odd for the development team behind The Elder Scrolls. Notch has said he will be giving an extended statement later today, so we’ll keep you updated on what this all means for Scrolls. That is, the one being developed by Mojang.
What’s your take on the issue? Is trademark infringement a black and white issue, or is this just a case of lawyers getting a little too trigger-happy? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
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