Majong Studios is the creator of the successful downloadable game ‘Minecraft’ which has surpassed 3 million downloads. According to Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, head of Majong, roughly six months ago Majong’s lawyers encouraged them to file for trademark protection for ‘Minecraft’ and also their upcoming next project: ‘Scrolls.’ This prompted them to receive a letter from Bethesda, makers of the popular ‘Elder Scrolls’ series, telling them that Bethesda believed that a game called ‘Scrolls’ would violate their trademark on the hugely popular series. ‘Skyrim: Elder Scrolls V’ is set to release in November of this year.
Trademark issues often hinge on whether a reasonable consumer is likely to be confused. That is, if one saw a d/l game called ‘Scrolls’ are they likely to purchase it on the assumption that it is somehow officially related to the Elder Scrolls series. On the one hand, a generic word like ‘Scrolls’ can be difficult to claim protection for by Bethesda. On the other hand, trademark protection can be very fact-specific, and stranger things have happened. Particularly since both are computer games, there would be greater chance of confusion, though Bethesda could have a tough hill to climb.
In a fascinating move, today Notch Persson suggested a Quake 3 dual to resolve the matter once and for all. In a statement on his blog for which he claims to be quite ‘serious,’ Persson proposed a winner-take-all matchup on Quake 3 to settle the matter. He went on to say that the inspiration came from Tyrion Lannister’s trial by combat on the Eyrie in the popular high fantasy series Game of Thrones. Persson’s blog is here: http://notch.tumblr.com/
UPDATE: One day after suggesting in his blog that Bethesda and Majong settle their legal differences with a Quake 3 deathmatch, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, the head of Majong, has thought better of it. After considering the fact that Bethesda created the game and has several professional players on its payroll, Johnson has retracted the offer for a winner take all duel. “In retrospect, Quake III might have been a poor choice.” Majong studios, creator of the successful dowloadable game ‘Minecraft’ has reportedly received legal threats from Bethesda relating to the upcoming Majong release ‘Scrolls.’ Bethesda, maker of the highly popular Elder Scrolls series is set to release ‘Skyrim: Elder Scrolls V’ this November. Bethesda is reported to think the similarity in names creates a trademark infringement. Yesterday, Persson suggested a 3 on 3 match-up in Quake III to settle the lawsuit once and for all. While Persson has re-thought his Quake III match offer, he vows to continue to fight any legal threat to ‘Scrolls.’