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Default Bethesda Softworks - Legal Moves Against Notch?

August 6th, 2011, 11:30
Why are companies permitted to institute these 'frivolous' cases in the first place? There such be punitive consequences - if you lose, you will be fined (in addition to paying costs) and any future trademark disputes which turn out to be a similar waste of the courts' time will massively inflate the next fine (so that it hurts their bottom line).
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August 6th, 2011, 11:37
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
Why are companies permitted to institute these 'frivolous' cases in the first place?
I have actually started to believe that this is the main way that companies (as autonomous legal entities) know for communicating with each other. One company suing another seems to me it's pretty much the same as me calling someone on the phone just to have a chat.

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August 6th, 2011, 11:45
"Owning" words and making ideas artificially scarce through intellectual property laws is one of the more stupid ideas of mankind, looking forward to time when we get rid of that nonsense.
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August 6th, 2011, 12:28
Hey, I thought about it a little, maybe it's just nonsense but it's a coincidence that stimulates my imagination:

Minecraft, even though still in beta, has apparently sold more than 3 million copies(!!) arleady and since it's officialy released on November 11, the same day as Skyrim, that's potentially 3 million gamers that will not rush to buy Skyrim on release day because they will be too busy playing Minecraft (I know I will - though I would certainly not rush to buy Skyrim anyway). And as I'm often reminded day one sales are the most important because after that the hype fades out, pirates make their cracks etc. etc.

So now it would make sense if Bethesda wants Minecraft to change it's release date, since they wouldn't want to take the credibility hit by changing Skyrim's release date. But I suppose they don't have no legal reason to demand that so they are trying to bully Notch into doing what they want by hitting him any way the can. Maybe part of the settlement agreement (or whatever it's called) is the change of Minecraft's release date?

If there's any true to that I sincerely hope Beth will be crushed… after all if I'm not mistaken Minecraft's release date was announced a while before Skyrim's.

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August 6th, 2011, 13:14
Very strange since it seems Notch and Todd Howard are "buddies".

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August 6th, 2011, 13:30
Are there no penalties whatsoever for hurling accusations left and right over there? Over here you better be sure you have a solid case before you file a lawsuit.

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August 6th, 2011, 15:02
Notch made lots of money with minecraft. Its propably just a standard for rich to pay tribute to lawyers. If they see money they are always hungering for good slice.

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August 6th, 2011, 16:17
As far I remember it was clear in no uncertain terms that you can't have copyright to a word in one of the Harry Potter court cases. A writer was sueing J.K. Rowling over the use of the word 'muggler' - J.K. Rowling won. This case was tried in London as I recall it. This means there is a presedence set here; you can't own a word - or a sentence. At least not in the EU.

Things seem a lot different in the US, I've heard of Stephen Spielberg buying a sentence in a book just to be able to use it in one of his films. As far as I'm concerned the word
'scrolls' existed long before Zenimax, and Bethesda ever did. Then the authors of several books about the dead sea scrolls could claim that Zenimax did indeed infringe on their copyright by making a game called 'the elder scrolls: Arena'

And personally, I have seen the word 'scrolls' used in a book in the late 1970's and also in a book from 1981 or 1982 'the deception about the dea sea scrolls.' (maybe it was 1984?) But it was long before any had thought of TES: Arena…

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August 6th, 2011, 17:49
Now that I'm sober I back off and think Zenimax is overreaching a bit however I still don't think that Mojang should be able to trademark 'Scrolls' either. Scrolls is still a video game and I doubt that there are legal categories separating games into RPG,Action,Strategy. I know everyone wants the underdog to win but I dont think they should have any more right to the word Scrolls than anyone else. And for that matter Microsoft really shouldn't be allowed Windows and Apple shouldn't get App Store.

Trademarks are not nearly as f'ed up as patents are but IP in general is in a bad state and cause more harm than they prevent.
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August 6th, 2011, 17:58
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
They were Swedish lawyers that contacted him. One assumes they would sue him in Sweden if they decided to, since Sweden honors US copyrights.
what about Piratebay?

Originally Posted by figment View Post
Sounds like Notch may have tried to trademark Scrolls itself. Zenimax is then defending themselves against possible infringment accusations in the reverse when they use Elder Scrolls. Yeah unlikely but if true Im not to bothered by their action.
This he admits himself and said himself that he was concerned that they couldn't TM a word like "Scrolls" but did it anyway at the same time as Minecraft. There may be some problems with his English in the statement because its almost a tantamount admission of guilt.

Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
Hey also. does anyone think that this might actually have something to do with the fact that the official release date for Minecraft will be 11/11 - the same as Skyrim? I can't think of why, maybe it's just a coincidence, but if Bethesda is actually seriously scared by an indie's competition that'd be really awesome!
I love this implication. I am looking for my tinfoil hat as we speak!

Originally Posted by booboo View Post
Why are companies permitted to institute these 'frivolous' cases in the first place? There such be punitive consequences - if you lose, you will be fined (in addition to paying costs) and any future trademark disputes which turn out to be a similar waste of the courts' time will massively inflate the next fine (so that it hurts their bottom line).
Actually, Bethesda is wanting the money upfront for having to file in the first place. Rarely does that happen though even when the courts rule in favour of the defense even when its ruled frivolous.

In the US its constitutional that a defendant has the right to a "fair and speedy trial". Fortunately for the courts, the Fathers weren't specific on what fair and speedy mean. Lawyers get paid by the hour and judges don't get paid either if there is no case. Big companies have the most money. The US has a lot of rich companies that don't rely on gov't assistance or cultural controls that prevent competition - since its rich with a large population it can "afford" to do this.

Let's not forget that Apple (under Scully) and Lotus did this for around a decade over "look and feel".

Lawsuits have existed since the invention of law so the US didn't invent it. Heck, even the clans of the Pacific Northwest Indians are very, very protective of their images- I recall several problems in Native Art school when members of different clans were showing each other how they depict certain animals and some elders made a huge stink about it when they just happened to be passing through. It made some of the teachers quite unhappy with them. Stealing one's clan symbols, well watch out how they used to settle things…

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August 6th, 2011, 18:03
The only ones who win from these sues are the lawyers.

And they get paid, eventually.

Here in Germany there was the case of a female student's lawyer going to court, and that against her will ! - The case could have easily been settled down without going to court - but no, the lawyer just anted to earn money … So in the end, she had to pay a penalty AND pay the laywerr who had "dragged" her into court against her free will …

This is a good example of where our society is going to. Maximizing profits. Capitalism.

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August 6th, 2011, 18:15
Just for reference, Serial no. 85323305 on the tess2.uspto.gov site when searching for scrolls (stupid site doesnt support direct links). Mojang filed in March/May for Scrolls in plain text ie not a stylized logo for basically computer games, articles of clothing, playing cards and general entertainment services.
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August 6th, 2011, 18:30
there's also an issue with covers. ie. the lawsuit between National Periodicals (DC) and Marvel Comics, Inc. regarding the character Captain Marvel. Marvel Comics had used various versions of the name three times by that point and DC was trying to revive the character that outsold Superman in the 1940's. Surprisingly, Marvel Comics won and though DC could use the name between the pages they were forbidden from using the name on the cover.

Of course, DC ended up going with Shazam! which many kids still think is the characters actual name. The book was one of the biggest disasters in comic book histories. DC greatly overestimated his popularity as a character (and probably CC Beck's style) after 30 years and they printed too many copies.

Ironically, it was DC who won their lawsuit in the 1940's against Fawcett for creating a Superman clone which lead to them ultimately acquiring the character.

Its a classic case of having to defend your TM or the courts could find its expired.

Incidentally, here's a poll: is Mickey Mouse now in the public domain in your country?

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August 6th, 2011, 21:21
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
what about Piratebay?
They all got fined and arrested for violating US copyright law by Swedish courts. Is that what you mean?
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August 6th, 2011, 23:44
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
They all got fined and arrested for violating US copyright law by Swedish courts. Is that what you mean?
Sounds like juridictal imperialism to me.

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August 7th, 2011, 00:21
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
If there's any true to that I sincerely hope Beth will be crushed… after all if I'm not mistaken Minecraft's release date was announced a while before Skyrim's.
Skyrims release date was announced back in 2010.
Minecraft's release date was announced in April 2011.here.

So no, Skyrim's release date was announced way before Minecrafts.

I don't think the release date of Minecraft is at play at all. I do think Skyrim will not sell as much copies as Minecraft (which already has sold in exces of 3 million). But the same goes for Angy Birds.

The PC hasn't been The Elder Scrolls' main market for almost a decade and I don't see them in direct competition with Minecraft.

In fact while Minecraft has already been sold 3 million times on one platform (PC) and will probably continue to sell more. I think Skyrim will at most sell half of that on all platforms combined. If we're looking at the PC version, that will probably sell at most 5% of Minecrafts 3 Million.

By those numbers alone you can conclude that many (at least half if those console gamers also game on a low-end pc) of the Minecraft customers wouldn't buy Skyrim to begin with.
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August 7th, 2011, 00:22
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
Remember that US copyright law is thoroughly fucked. There are tons of clauses about your copyright being at risk if you do not try to defend it. This ends up causing a lot of bullshit lawsuits like this while companies try to prove they are defending their copyrights.
This. The Zenimax legal representatives probably scared the crap out of the managment by telling them if they didn't sue they could risk the validity of their trademark. The sad thing is, as the quoted post states, US copyright is so screwed up that those lawyers aren't entirely making that up to justify their paychecks.

They, and Zenimax PR, are of course being morons nonetheless. A smarter move would have been a public joint statement between both parties that affirmed Bethesda's ownership of "The Elder Scrolls" and that "scrolls" itself was in no-way related and that this unique situation would not warrant legal action. At the same time they would of course be able to affirm that this unique case would not apply to any other use of similar names and that other companies should not assume carte blanche in using names or titles approximating properties controlled by Zenimax and its subsidiaries. That would have been a cheaper solution and made for much less god-awful PR.

Oh and enough with the nationistic bs idiocy of saying garbage like "only in america." Guess what? Your nation's moron politicians have probably passed laws making US copyright and trademark laws fully enforceable in your country too. So no, not "only in America." There isn't an embargo on stupid ideas that originated in the US an the chances are good that your politicians have imported and consumed those same bad ideas while suckling at the copyright lobby's collective teat. And it's not "juridictal (sic) imperialism" unless someone was holding a money gun to your politician's head. Vote them out of office and blame them for being corrupted; don't just say "boo american imperialism" like the politicians were forced to do it.
Last edited by jhwisner; August 7th, 2011 at 00:33. Reason: sd s
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August 7th, 2011, 01:00
This happens quite often, see Lindows vs Windows, Apple Corp vs Apple Computers, and many others. I don't think that common words should be allowed to be trademarked. I can see it when they are trying to confuse brands which may have been the case with Lindows, but the two games are different enough that there would not be any confusion.

One of the applications I use all the time is Windows Commander, or rather Total Commander. Microsoft sent them a threatening letter claiming trademark on the word Windows so they changed the name instead of trying to fight. I think a lot of people probably do that instead of trying the expensive route of fighting a large company.

I guess they will be going after Elder-Beerman next.
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August 7th, 2011, 01:45
Originally Posted by JuliusMagnus View Post
So no, Skyrim's release date was announced way before Minecrafts.
I stand corrected then. (which doesn't change anything really - I still wish they lose)

Originally Posted by JuliusMagnus View Post
The PC hasn't been The Elder Scrolls' main market for almost a decade and I don't see them in direct competition with Minecraft.
It's not a matter of direct competition. My point is that I assume there will be a noteworthy percentage out of the 3 million people that have bough Minecraft, that at November 11 will be too busy with it to buy any other game. (I expect it's reasonable to assume that enough of them will also have a console too.)

The fact that day 1 sales are the most crucial is often presented by people here as an explanation for the existence of -otherwise often ineffective- DRM. I don't know if it's true and I won't claim so, but I accept it as plausible. If it is true though then it seems reasonable to assume that any game released at November 11 will be seriously threatened by Minecraft.




I know you feel I'm stretching it way too much, but to be honest, I find a nice little conspiracy theory preferable to throwing assumptions about legal matters that are beyond my knowledge (and that of many other people here quite obviously).

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August 7th, 2011, 02:53
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Sounds like juridictal imperialism to me.
If our copyright was sensible it would not be, but since it is insane I agree with you.
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