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Quake Games

Notch Asks For Trial By Combat 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-all-trademark-claims-should-be-settled dept.
Vrallis writes "As reported recently, Mojang AB, the creators of Minecraft, have been sued by Bethesda over the name of their latest project, Scrolls, citing a trademark infringement with their Elder Scrolls games. In his latest blog post, Notch, the founder of Mojang, has challenged Bethesda to a trial by combat. Specifically, a frag match in Quake 3."
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Notch Asks For Trial By Combat

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  • Mods (Score:4, Funny)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:49PM (#37123068) Homepage Journal
    I assume that, in the old dueling tradition, his opponent gets to choose the mod. I recommend INSTAGIB.
  • Win-win i guess? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:50PM (#37123080)
    If he actually gets them to agree to this then even if he loses it ought to generate enough publicity to make up for having to change the name.
  • by barlevg (2111272) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:53PM (#37123116)
    I do remember reading that, according to some interpretations, Trial by Combat *may indeed* be legal under the US legal system [wikipedia.org]...
  • I don't know what's more impressive, this article or the fact that it managed to make its way onto Slashdot the same day it was published.
    • by Vrallis (33290)

      Yeah, I'm a bit surprised. I think I submitted it less than three hours ago, too.

    • It'll be duped four times though, and then you'll be sick of it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by idontgno (624372)

        That's OK, though. Someone will work Bitcoins into it and it'll be like braaaand new.

        At least for the first couple of times it's duped that way.

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      What's impressive is that this made its way onto /. after, not before, it was published, given the hivemind's love of all things Notch.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:58PM (#37123184)
    Bethesda really are being total assholes here. Suing a independent developer for the word "Scrolls"? Bethesda does not own that fucking word... If those corporate assholes actually agree to this I'll be totally shocked.
    • by billcopc (196330)

      Correction: Bethesda's lawyers are being total assholes here.

      Nothing surprising, I'm sure most law firms reject any résumé that does not include "Being a stubborn asshole" in the first paragraph.

      • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:16PM (#37123414)

        Correction: Bethesda's lawyers are being total assholes here.

        Nope, they are just helping Bethesda defend their trademark (remember, if you dont defend it, you lose it, especially since Notch is also is also in the same gaming business).

        • Not being a lawyer, I fail to see the value in staking out a word like "Scrolls" and saying "MINE! ONLY ME CAN USE WORD!!!"

          The title of Notch's game doesn't contain the word "Elder." Are there other similarities I'm not aware of? How likely is it really that someone else would come along, make shovelware, slap an "Elder Scroll" title on it, and when challenged say "But they didn't sue that guy for using half the title, so they don't care!" If their lawyers are being too unrealistic and paranoid in "d
        • by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:57PM (#37123840)

          Nope, they are just helping Bethesda defend their trademark (remember, if you dont defend it, you lose it, especially since Notch is also is also in the same gaming business).

          They can't lose something that they have never had. Bethesda do not have "Scrolls" as a trademark for a computer game, and do not stand to lose "The Elder Scrolls" by doing nothing here. Furthermore, all Notch has done is apply for trademark on a name that he plans to use. There's nothing wrong with that - it's just diligence - and filing a suit about that is rather arbitrary. If Bethesda's representatives have an issue with that then they should just contest the application.

      • by md65536 (670240)

        Somehow, I don't think the Bethesda lawyers are going to be okay with a trial by combat, unless they can somehow extract an extra fee out of it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, unlike copyrights and patents, trademarks must always be fought for or they are lost.

      • Their trademark is "Elder Scrolls". While I think Mojang's "Scrolls", even as a fantasy game, is too generic to be trademarked, it is not violating Bethesda's trademark. They are claiming they own the individual words of their trademark, even though they are common english words, and that's clearly absurd.

        • It doesn't matter if they have a trademark on the specific word. If someone uses a mark that is similar to something you use and they are within the same industry you risk diluting your mark and losing it. Which is why Microsoft was basically required by law if they wanted to not lose their Microsoft trademark to sue the guy who started "Mike Rowe Soft".

          • by vegiVamp (518171)

            Heeh, did that actually happen?

            On the current topic, however; look at it from the other side. If Mojang created 'Scrolls' a few years back, and then Bethesda published 'The Elder Scrolls', what would happen? From that angle, it would look a damn lot like a sequel, wouldn't it?

            It's not particularly nice of Bethesda, but I do see their point.

  • More information (Score:5, Informative)

    by uigrad_2000 (398500) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:07PM (#37123294) Homepage Journal

    Notch just got married this weekend, and is officially away right now, for his honeymoon. This lawsuit came up at a terrible time, and this is the way that Notch handles such stuff.

    Notch seems to read and reply most to comments on the minecraft channel at reddit. The thread there [reddit.com] would probably be the place to post if you want to volunteer as one of the representatives :)

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I think they should have to use actual employees, who have been employed before the challenge, to prevent them just hiring Q3 allstars.

  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:14PM (#37123378)

    So.... seeing as Bethesda and id Software are both now arms of Zenimax, can id Software employees be part of the Bethesda team?

    Shoulda stuck with counter-strike, Notch!

    • Perhaps he wants a challenge? If id Software employees can be part of the team, that means he might get to get to play against Carmack, making for probably the best PR here and just an awesome experience to have, even if he loses.
      • Not only could they use this to promote "scrolls", Skyrim, and Oblivion. It's also a chance to promote Quake 3 and Rage. You couldn't ASK for a better PR event.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      In traditional duels, the person accepting the duel gets to choose a "home turf" as long as it is agreed to by a neutral third party or both parties in the duel. Notch is offering a "home turf" and pre-agreeing to it.
    • What makes you think that wasn't intentional? I read this as playing friendly on Notch's part "I'll even let you guys have the homecourt advantage." He said he assumed this was a misunderstanding. He's clearly not playing hardball here, that was obvious from issuing a videogame challenge rather than a countering lawsuit.
  • He says he is serious, but unless there is something I am missing or Notch is an idiot he is not actually expecting them to agree. Supposedly Bethesda have a financial reason for suing Notch and for a actual business to engage in basically a game of chance (Quake 3 is not a game of chance but pitting two unknown team against each other in it is) to determine if they will go ahead with the suit or drop it is just irresponsible. And assuming that they are a corporation beholden to look after the best interest

    • Are you kidding me? To most who likes Notch & Bethesda? I'm sorry, but I'm all for this going down. Plus, this is an olden form of dispute solving that WAS acceptable by courts. Just before it was IRL, and slightly more dangerous. If they accept, no matter what happens, everyone comes out smelling like roses. Great PR for everyone which shareholders love.
      • The point I was trying to make was not wouldn't it be cool if it went down or not but instead that he has absolutely no chance of getting it to go down and I think he knows it.

    • by Zalbik (308903)

      Supposedly Bethesda have a financial reason for suing Notch and for a actual business to engage in basically a game of chance (Quake 3 is not a game of chance but pitting two unknown team against each other in it is) to determine if they will go ahead with the suit or drop it is just irresponsible. And assuming that they are a corporation beholden to look after the best interests of their shareholders most likely an illegal act to boot.

      That makes the huge assumption that the financial loss caused by a game

    • by Narishma (822073)

      Bethesda is a private company, so they can do whatever they want.

    • He says he is serious, but unless there is something I am missing or Notch is an idiot he is not actually expecting them to agree.

      Bethesda may not have anticipated the bad press that this affair is generating. Notch has offered them a face-saving way out. It would be wise of them to accept.

  • by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @06:09PM (#37123934)

    If serious, he just screwed himself out of using the contested name. He just expressed his willingness to change it. So now, a judge knows that it's not crucial to the project to keep the name, if he would frivolously agree to changing it over the outcome of a video game match.

    It's like this. Big bad greedy company wants your name, or your domain, or wants you to stop using it because it infringes on their trademark, or "dilutes their brand" or whatever buzzwords they use. You say you will change it if they pay you a million dollars. You probably just screwed yourself in court if they refuse, because it makes you look like a squatter.

    Remember MikeRoweSoft.com? He might have had a leg to stand on because it was his name, and he was a software developer, but as soon as he attempted to extort money from Microsoft, his prospects of winning were shot. (If I recall correctly, he settled for some free gifts from MS)

    But yeah, free publicity, anyway.

    • It sounds to me like he's decided that he can't afford to fight (welcome to the US legal system!), so it doesn't matter what a judge would think. At this point he's just milking the Streisand Effect for what little he can get out of it, and if this happens to make them change their mind about going to court that's just a bonus.
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      No. You are completely wrong on that - the law does not say anything about *needing* a trademark. In fact, the courts will probably look favorably on this attempt to settle out of court - showing a willingness to compromise is actually a bonus, not a strike against you.

      There's only a few outcomes left, now, which will show who's in the right:
      1) If Bethesda agrees, and both parties abide by the results, everyone saying this is a case of the legal department not being in touch with the rest of the company get

      • (I didn't realize it would be in Sweden... it could be quite different. All bets are off)

        But I was more thinking of:

        6) Judge sternly rules to stop using the name Scrolls, and (not necessarily because) he doesn't like the court's time being wasted with frivolity. If he's willing to give up the name over the outcome of a video game, just give it up. I highly doubt the judge would identify with the chivalry and nobody is going to take that challenge seriously. It would be legally foolish for anyone on the comp

        • "Surely, the word tournament should be safe? (Activision would of course crawl right up my ass and use my balls for a punching bag)"

          ok now I know you're doing nothing but talking out your ass.

          X360 Abronium Tournament
          PS Bakuten Shoot Beyblade 2002: Beybattle Tournament 2
          NES Battle Rush: Build Up Robot Tournament
          GC BeyBlade VForce: Super Tournament Battle
          GBC BeyBlade: Fighting Tournament
          PC Bomberfun Tournament
          GBA Bomberman Tournament
          ARC Buriki One: World Grapple Tournament '99

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          "Willing to settle it via arbitration" is different than "willing to give it up", because there's about even odds that Mojang would end up with the trademark, not Bethesda. It's not Notch saying "we have no claim to it", it's saying "we both have equal claim to it".

          There's also the problem that Bethesda's entire suit is based on "customers could be confused into thinking Scrolls is a Bethesda game". Which is untrue for a reason that hasn't been brought up here: most gamers don't think of Bethesda's games as

  • by Meneth (872868)
    They could go the Prince route, and make the game "previously known as Scrolls".
  • by G00F (241765)
    So the next new hire interview will involve a frag match? How do I apply?

    On a side note, God I hate what lawyers did to our justice and legal system . . . .
  • Notch does not have the funds to match Bethesda legal team.

  • I think they (both) might want to check with Steven Mancinelli [uspto.gov]. Notch's defense would run to "I can't be infringing on Bethesda's trademark, since this other trademark was plainly issued to the pertinent domain AND is more directly infringed if anyone is.

    • Steven Mancinelli is the attorney of record, the important line is the one above it (APPLICANT) Mojang AB CORPORATION SWEDEN 1 Lagskarsvagen Johanneshov SWEDEN 12155 which means this is probably the reason Bethesda is suing.
  • If you're going to have a trial, it should definitely be a trial by stone [youtube.com].

  • I'm usually not this low-brow, but I'd like to give Bethesda a roll of toilet paper, which is the trophy for winning Ass-Wipe of the Year. And if you think about it, toilet paper is rolled like scrolls are, so sue me too, ass-wipes.

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