A few days ago, the legal department of Bethesda Softworks (not to be confused with Bethesda Game Studios) served the creator of Minecraft, Notch, legal papers regarding the title of Notch’s upcoming game, “Scrolls”. The Bethesda legal department expressed concern that people will confuse Notch’s “Scrolls” game with “The Elder Scrolls” series.
Notch posted this on his blog.
Today, I got a 15 page letter from some Swedish lawyer firm, saying they demand us to stop using the name Scrolls, that they will sue us (and have already paid the fee to the Swedish court), and that they demand a pile of money up front before the legal process has even started.
While many were speculating early on that this was a joke, as of now it does not appear to be. It looks like Bethesda will be going forward with the lawsuit.
Neither Bethesda nor Zenimax has made any statements regarding the incident.
Update: Here is the first page of the legal document (translated from Swedish).
Trade Mark Infringement
I write to you as a legal representative of the company ZeniMax Media Inc.
My mandator is creating and publishing interactive entertainment for, among others, consoles, computers, and handheld/wireless units. The company has a long and successful history and is behind a large number of awarded games, among these the wordly renown game series THE ELDER SCROLLS. The trademark name THE ELDER SCROLLS is protected of, among others, different entertainmentwares and -services, where computer and consolegames are included. In EU is my mandator owner of the registered communion trademarks with the registered numbers 2840098 and 8283161.
It has come to my mandator's knowledge that Mojang AB (Mojang) is using the signature SCROLLS in themarketing of a coming computer and/or consolegame. The signature SCROLLS shows serious visual, phonetic and conceptual similarities with my mandators trademark name THE ELDER SCROLLS. These similarities are strengthened by the fact that within the entertainment industry, the game industry included, it often occurs that goods and services with a common commercial origin are promoted through distinctive features that are constructed through a common trade mark element(?). As an example we can mention the company Nintendos worldfamous Mario-series with game titles like Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros, or the company Blizzards Warcraft-series with game titles like Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and World of Warcraft. Thus there is an obvious risk for the average consument to get the idea that good and/or services that are provided under the property name SCROLLS respective THE ELDER SCROLLS are from the same commercial origin or at least with companies with economical relations. In this context it is therefore our opinion that Mojangs use of the trademark name SCROLLS is... (the line continues on the next page that isn't shown in the photo)
Thank you, amycus, for posting the document.