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by Zachary Knight

Filed Under:
fus ro dah, games, meme, skyrim

bethesda, zenimax

Zenimax Files For Trademark On A Skyrim Internet Meme

from the arrow-to-the-knee dept

We are all aware of the aggressive nature of Bethesda parent company Zenimax when it comes to trademarks. We now learn that it is not only aggressive in defense of its trademarks but is also an aggressive filer of trademarks for things surrounding its properties. Fusible is reporting that Zenimax has recently filed 6 different trademark applications covering a variety of uses of the phrase "Fus Ro Dah".

For those of you not in the know, "Fus Ro Dah" is a phrase spoken by characters in the Bethesda game Skyrim when casting a spell that sends a blast of energy knocking back anything in its path. For those Star Wars buffs out there, it is very similar to a Jedi Force Push. This spell has spawned its very own meme using both in game footage of the spell use and the use of the phrase just before real people fall on video, as can be seen here:

While we are not entirely sure of Zenimax's true intentions, we do know that due to the ownership culture we have in the US many companies want control over anything related or somewhat related to their properties. This protectionist attitude is probably the primary driver of this move. Zenimax most likely feels that since this meme is based on one of its properties, it should have sole control over its use.

Unfortunately, this move to trademark a meme can actually result in its premature death. Memes are born in the wild and are best able to grow and spread if left to the whims and wiles of those on the internet. Memes cannot be controlled or tamed. If Zenimax's trademark filing is approved, the moment it makes its first move toward control, such as sending a cease and desist or taking down a video, it will feel a backlash by fans of Skyrim. If Zenimax had anyone capable of rational thought running its operation, it would have left this meme be and sat back and enjoyed the free advertising it provides for one of its games.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2012 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    -sigh- I can do this all day.

    > The same can be said of a lot of people who visit this site. By your statement none of us are lawyers so we have no grounds in criticizing the application of law. My point being that your point of the universal, immediate association of the phrase to the game is not proven as not everyone plays the game.

    No. You're right, none of us are lawyers, unless any of us are. Really, none of us should try to put in our "professional opinion" to something in which we don't completely understand. In which, Mike should also not be even making comments about the application of the law. MY point is that, no, you don't even understand what the trademark is from and the relevance of it to ONLY the game. Also, let me show you the applications of the trademark use:

    1) Computer game software for use with computers and video game consoles; downloadable computer game software offered via the internet and wireless devices; cell phone cases; downloadable cell phone ringtones; digital tablet cases; smart phone cases; mouse pads; eyeglass cases; head phones.

    I.e.: Only Bethesda can make use of the phrase in a game or other software in the software's content, in a ringtone, smart phone cases, eyeglass case, head phones, or cell phone case. In other words: We created it, so if it's going to be used for profit, we're going to be notified and we're going to earn something for it.

    2) Computer and video game user instruction manuals; magazines, books, and pamphlets concerning video games; computer and video game strategy guide books and magazines; trading cards, maps, posters, advertisement boards of paper or cardboard, art prints if it's outside the jurisdiction of fair use.

    I.e.: Only we can use it in guide books and strategy games. Unless we give permission, you have no right to using it in a printed product such as a magazine, trading card, map, posters, advertisement, or art print. In other words: If you print something with this phrase on it, we have are completely reasonable in that we can sue you if it's outside the jurisdiction of fair use.

    3) Bags, namely, backpacks, duffel bags, knapsacks, book bags, athletic bags, and cosmetic bags, sold empty.

    Any bag "sold empty" (filled bags don't apply? Kinda confused here as well)

    I.e.: You make something with a trademark of ours on it outside of fair use, than we can sue you. Again, completely reasonable.

    4) Clothing, namely, T-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts, fleece pullovers; headwear, namely, hats

    I.e.: Exact same thing as above.

    5) Toys and action figures; playing cards, dice, and board games; bobble-head dolls; sporting equipment.

    Same thing. AGAIN.

    6) Entertainment services, namely, providing on-line interactive computer games and providing information relating to electronic computer games via the internet.

    This one is important. Why? Because, as you should be notified of, ZeniMax is in the production of an MMO associated with The Elder Scrolls, which might be used in online entertainment. Likewise, if they have a service that is used in their gaming or such with "Fus Ro Da" included in it, they have an absolute right to sue, because, HEY! It's their product, it's associated ONLY with them and nowhere else (please, entertain me and find me a place where it's NOT associated with Skyrim or a Dragon Shout or a force shove, and I might give in a LITTLE).

    > If you want to criticise that then respond in those articles when the topic is actually brought up.

    I do.

    An article right now which is twisting the facts is this one. ZeniMax, in fact, did NOT trademark a meme. The meme existed after the fact, therefore technically belongs to the trademark registrar if they registered it. Second, the "meme" isn't even thought of as a meme. When I think of "Fus Ro Da" I think of Skyrim, and the force push dragon shout. Not of the internet meme. Third, the above patents don't apply to the internet meme. We can argue over this, but seeing as we're both not lawyers, it won't get anywhere. Regardless, I shall show my view on it:

    Unless you can prove that a meme is regarded as an "entertainment service," "computer game software," "computer and video game instruction manual," "clothing," or "toy/action figure," than you have no applicable patent to the picture of something that says "Fus Ro Da" that is spread on the internet (via fair use, for one, and second, that the patent doesn't apply).

    > So go on, then. Debunk what's been shown on the site. If the facts have been twisted surely you can show how they've been twisted.

    > So you'd rather take the MPAA's word over Techdirt, then. Comforting.

    Who's word I take is none of your business and really has nothing to do with discussion.

    > Wow, really? You'd rather pay attention to organisations that have been known to rip the artist off in their accounting? What about cases where artists have to sue their big-name labels; that's supposed to be better than more music being made?

    While I agree with you, I really don't see how it's relevant to the discussion.

    > You're refusing to see the point. The article has stated that if ZeniMax chooses to go this route there will be consequences. The article has NOT stated that ZeniMax MUST be filing for trademark for the sole purpose of going after the meme. You're the one who's assuming and twisting facts to villainise the site for allegedly villainising ZeniMax.

    This article is villainising ZeniMax for filing a trademark that is completely reasonable. That, my friend, is bad news reporting. At least try to make it a little straightforward. Mike doesn't even understand the meme's origins, or the use of it in the game properly, it sounds. If he does, he's SERIOUSLY trying to villainise ANYONE filing a trademark.

    Second, ZeniMax MUST have a reason to trademark the phrase "Fus Ro Da!" because they probably want to make some money off of it. Namely action figures, t-shirts, and use of it in other software. Again, this is all they have jurisdiction over with their trademark. I fail to see how this is unreasonable. If it is, then you have a serious misunderstanding of intellectual property, the law, and capitalism. And capitalism, my friend, is the law, whether you agree with it or not.

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