Bethesda Turns Down Quake Fight Over Scrolls Name; Takes Guaranteed Loss By Going To Court
from the scrolls-scrolls-scrolls-mountains-scrolls dept
A couple months ago, Mojang revealed that Bethesda had sent a cease and desist letter to the company over the use of the word “scrolls” in its latest game. Since then, Markus Persson, aka Notch, the creative mind behind Mojang and its massively successful game Minecraft, has been in a public relations spree against Bethesda. His boldest move was to challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake to determine the naming rights over “Scrolls.” It would seem that Bethesda’s lawyers were not impressed and, instead, have decided to follow through with their original threat.
As Notch announced on Twitter, “The Scrolls case is going to court! Weee! :D”
Gamasutra followed up with Daniel Kaplan, Mojang’s business developer, who described the nature of the court filings from Bethesda.
He explained that the document reveals how Bethesda lawyers are using comments on Scrolls videos and articles about the game to prove that the name will confuse players into believing that Scrolls is part of the Elder Scrolls franchise.
“They even took screenshots from our trailer and said we copied them… we have mountains in the Scrolls trailer, and they have that too in Skyrim,” he laughed.
This is all pretty much expected from Bethesda. However, in the comments on that article, Mihai Cozma made a good point, that “Bethesda will lose no matter what decision the court will take.” As Cozma explains, “Notch is so popular among gamers and small developers alike as a person, nothing will dim that. The way he treated this accusations led to an image of ‘the big guys who want to steal whatever this “poor” guy has achieved by hard work’ for Bethesda, which is detrimental to them.'”
He is absolutely right. This has turned into a public relations nightmare for Bethesda — which was easily avoidable. From the very first letter from Bethesda, Notch and the Mojang team have been very open and public about all events regarding “Scrolls” and the trademark threat. They have blogged, tweeted, done interviews with the press and have built up a lot of good will among gamers.
But what has Bethesda done? So far, all it has done is send threatening letters to Mojang and file the lawsuit in court. It has yet to speak to the press and share its side of the story and why it feels gamers would be confused over the name “Scrolls” and why it feels Mojang’s use of the name would be detrimental to their business. What are they afraid of? Are they afraid they will accidentally reveal some information critical to their case? Or are they afraid that any statement will be misinterpreted by the gaming public and further tarnish their image? It’s probably a little of both, but more of the latter.
As Cozma said, at this point in the situation, there is no winning for Bethesda.