Minecraft creator sued by Bethesda Softworks

In a case of "scrappy but popular indie developer" vs "big game publisher" Minecraft's creator Markus "Notch" Persson has announced on his official blog site that his company Mojang is now facing a lawsuit filed by Bethesda Softworks. The issue is the title for Mojang's next game Scrolls which was announced earlier this year. Persson is not directly involved in the development of this game which is a fantasy tactical strategy title which also uses collectible cards.

In Persson's blog post he writes that on advice from his lawyers that he decided to trademark the name Minecraft a few months ago. "At the same time, we also applied for 'Scrolls', the new game we’re working on. We knew of no similarly named games, and we had even Googled it to make sure. I’m not even sure if you CAN trademark individual words, like 'Scrolls', but we sent in the application anyway."

Some time later, Persson said he got a note from some lawyers representing Bethesda Softworks who claimed that the name "Scrolls" conflicted with their long running fantasy RPG series "The Elder Scrolls". Perrson writes, "I agree that the word 'Scrolls' is part of that trademark, but as a gamer, I have never ever considered that series of (very good) role playing games to be about scrolls in any way, nor was that ever the focal point of neither their marketing nor the public image." Persson added, "We suggested a compromise where we’d agree to never put any words in front of 'Scrolls', and instead call sequels and other things something along the lines of 'Scrolls - The Banana Expansion'. I’m not sure if they ever got back to us with a reply to this."

Apparently that wasn't enough to appease the lawyers. Persson writes that on Friday they received a note from Bethesda's lawyers asking Mojang "... to stop using the name Scrolls, that they will sue us (and have already paid the fee to the Swedish court), and that they demand a pile of money up front before the legal process has even started." So far, Bethesda has not commented publicly on this legal move.

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