by Zachary Knight

Filed Under:
scrolls, trademark

bethesda, mojang

Court Rules Gamers Are Not Idiots And Not Likely To Be Confused Over 'Scrolls'

from the won-the-battle-on-to-the-war dept

Mojang has won the first of several battles in its legal troubles involving the trademark "Scrolls". Via a tweet, Markus 'notch' Persson announced:
We won the interim injunction! We can keep using the name "Scrolls". ZeniMax/Bethesda can still appeal the ruling, but I'm very happy. :D
According to a Gamasutra summary of the ruling, the court found that although the games in question have a high degree of similarities, the target consumers have a higher than normal awareness and are thus less likely to be confused over the trademarks.
Nevertheless, the Court finds that there are similarities as well - both games/series taking place in a fantasy setting, and that consumers appear to be somewhat overlapping, and that as a consequence, there is a relatively high degree of similarity of goods.

The Court then goes on to discuss the consumers of these kinds of games. ZeniMax’s opinion is that it is the general public, which holds no particular awareness of differences between various titles and games.

Mojang on the contrary, has argued that computer and video gamers constitute a well defined (albeit large) group which is very much aware of differences between various games and titles. The Court finds mostly with Mojang, agreeing that the relevant consumers are not the general public, and that their awareness is higher than normal.
While this is not a decisive victory for Mojang, it does mean that it can continue to use 'Scrolls' in its regular course of business. Bethesda/Zenimax still has a chance to block Mojang in the future but for now nothing will change. We have yet to hear if Bethesda plans to appeal this ruling or wait for the full proceedings to commence. This ruling, however, does not effect the trademark status in nations outside Sweden. Which means that the USPTO's rejection still stands in the US.

In the mean time, perhaps Bethesda's legal team should reconsider that Quake match. Notch is still up for it.

Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    The eejit (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 1:06pm

    See also Doom and Turok; Call of Duty and Battlefield.

    Similar games, different trademarks, but outside of pulling illegal shit, most gamer can actually tell the difference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Yakko Warner (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Not *all* gamers are idiots...

    ...but a whole lot of them seem to end up in online multiplayer.

    I still think that Quake match is a bad idea for Mojang, given ZeniMax owns the game. Notch is lucky it went to court instead. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    A Dan (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 1:47pm

    An important point

    The gamers aren't necessarily the ones likely to be confused. Keep in mind that there are lots of morons in a hurry (i.e. parents) that tend to buy video games for others, but have little ability to differentiate and are likely to be confused by any similarities.

    Regardless, given the nature of the game, I would guess it is unlikely to be boxed for sale in a store.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    DannyB (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:32pm

    This is HUGE news

    Gamers are not idiots? This just shows how broken our court system is.

    Gamers are the root of all evil. :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    freak (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:33pm



    That's not the level of similarity we're talking about.

    Scrolls is a Trading Card style Game. You have 'scrolls' that you collect as you win battles that allow you to build collections (decks) that you use in combat. The scrolls cast spells (effects), or summon creatures that are placed on a grid, which then duke it out turn-based boardgame style.

    Elder Scrolls is an RPG. You are a single character with experience levels, equipment, race, class & skills, where the character is directly manipulated for combat, (Throw this type of punch when I click the button), and I don't believe it's turn-based.

    The similarity begins and ends with "fantasy setting" and "scrolls"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Re: An important point

    Even so. When a kid asks their parents for a Bethesda game they will not say: "Mom, get me The Elder Scrolls Five" they will say "Get me Skyrim"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Re: An important point

    yeah but elder scrolls games are most commonly referred to by their subtitle. So you would tell your parents/gf/whatever you want "Skyrim" not "the new elder scrolls game." Of course they could still probably fuck that up, I just ask for gift cards myself

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    STJ, 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:39pm

    As long as I can pirate the right one, I'm fine.

    Just kidding..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    MIke, 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:46pm

    This does not look good on Bethdesa.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2011 @ 2:54pm


    better get them both, just to be sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    matics (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 3:10pm

    I think they should use the "nickname" test. When I play Counter-Strike, I refer to it as simply CS. When I refer to Call of Duty, I call it COD. When I play League of Legends, I call it LoL or "League" instead.

    I have never heard anyone refer to Elder Scrolls as simply "Scrolls" - it's usually by its specific name, as other commenters mentioned, that might be "Skyrim" There isn't likely to be much confusion between the two games since nobody refers to Bethesda's titles by "Scrolls" ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    old perv, 18 Oct 2011 @ 3:32pm


    Skyrim sounds like a porn film set in an airplane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 3:40pm

    As to people who might buy their kid the wrong game, I did not think that Mojang had sales via Amazon, Newegg, Gamestop, etc. They sold Minecraft only on their site, so I guess it is up to Google to decide if the first hit for scrolls will be Bethesda or Mojang and if the moron in a hurry can tell 1 sales site from another.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    ....., 18 Oct 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Skyrim?

    adds a whole new meaning to "snakes on a plane"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2011 @ 10:26pm

    Re: An important point

    To counter that, who calls the elder scrolls games "elder scrolls". I assume most people say Morrowind, Oblivion, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    info, 19 Oct 2011 @ 12:33am

    Re: Not *all* gamers are idiots...

    Shoulda fragged dem bioches. Woulda been the best money making match of the decade (period). Suits missed it because they are punk posers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2011 @ 2:50am

    The real news here is that Gamers are not considered idiots, but in fact smarter than the average consumer (at least when it comes to games). I thought we were all considered Murdering, drug addicted pedos!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    JustMe (profile), 19 Oct 2011 @ 4:40am

    ZeniMax/Bethesda - now is your chance to let it drop

    Seriously, just let the thing drop and move on. Quit bugging this guy for using 'Scrolls' in the title. I've purchased many of the the *Scrolls games but right now you guys are on a time out. I won't buy any of your games because your lawyers are ruining your reputation as a game company. Pretty soon you'll be lumped in with the copyright trolls and music industry. Just walk away from the lawsuit and consider donating $20,000 to a charity of Markus' choosing.

    # Also, seriously, the monsters that level up with you and vendors with no money? Nice ideas in theory, but I got really tired of fighting lvl 32 rats in the same place where I'd been fighting lvl 3 rats a few days earlier. Where were the giant honkin' lvl 32 rats then? Why aren't there any lvl 3 rats around now? Did they get eaten or have they just been at the gym? Also, I left piles and piles of armor and weapons sitting outside the vendors so I'd be able to sell a couple of them the next time I came through that town. The streets were littered with the stuff, and nobody seemed to notice. There is no economic reason to restrict the money supply in a single player game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Ben, 19 Oct 2011 @ 10:48pm

    the thing that bugs me about this is NO ONE calls them elder scrolls. Everyone always refers to em by Skyrim or Oblivion. They not even advertised as Elder Scrolls. I mean check out the case for Skyrim, Elder scross is in tiny little writing above the main title of Skyrim in giant letters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Harry, 6 Jan 2013 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: An important point

    I asked my father to get me the Elder Scrolls 5: when we went abroad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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