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Bethesda Targets Mojang's  Scrolls  For Trademark Infringement

Bethesda Targets Mojang's Scrolls For Trademark Infringement

August 5, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Bethesda Softworks has sent a letter to Minecraft developer Mojang accusing the indie powerhouse of infringing on Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls trademark.

"Just got a letter from Bethesta's [sic] lawyers. They claim 'Scrolls' infringes on their trademark and everyone will confuse it with Skyrim," Mojang founder Marcus "Notch" Persson wrote in a tweet, following up with a photo of the letter's front page by way of proof.

The letter, in Swedish, accuses Scrolls of "significant visual, audio and conceptual similarities with ... The Elder Scrolls," saying consumers may feel the titles come from "the same commercial origin."

Bethesda compares its Elder Scrolls mark to other common, overarching marks like Mario or Warcraft, which cover a wide range of games that don't share precisely identical naming conventions (i.e. Mario Bros. and Super Mario World).

The news comes as the beta release of Minecraft passes 3 million sales and as Mojang begins preparations for a two-day Las Vegas convention to coincide with the game's full release.

The company revealed Scrolls, its second title, in March, describing the upcoming release as a mix of real-world collectible cards and a video board game.

The Elder Scrolls series began in 1994 with the PC release of Arena. The fifth full title in the action-RPG series, Skyrim, is due for release in November.

Representatives from Bethesda and Mojang were not immediately available for comment.

Current Fallout IP owner Bethesda is also in the middle of a lawsuit with former Fallout IP owner Interplay. Bethesda licensed development of a Fallout MMO to Interplay after acquiring the series, but now claims that it licensed only the word "Fallout" to the studio -- not any of the setting, characters, lore or other key components of the multi-million-selling RPG franchise.

[UPDATE: In a post on his blog, Persson details discussions with Bethesda surrounding Mojang's application to register the Scrolls trademark, and explains that the letter includes the threat of a lawsuit if settlement money isn't paid up front.

"I assume this is all some more or less automated response to us applying for the trademark," Persson writes. "I sincerely hope Bethesda isn’t pulling a Tim Langdell."]

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