Friday, August 5, 2011

Lawyers Are Awful, Notch Isn't

Now, I don't mean to put anybody off when I say this, specifically because I know going into a law career is a good idea and such, but, let's be honest here:  Lawyers pretty much ruin everything.  At the very least, copyright lawyers, since it seems 90% of anything they bring to the table like lapdogs for their pay is some vague, awful claim to appease their masters and show that they are, in fact, doing something for the money they get.  Of course, it's not -always- the lawyers themselves....but most of the time, it really is.

So, this is pretty much the story you've heard time and time again:  Company A trademarks a name, Company B trademarks another name that happens to have a word in common with Company A's game, Company A's lawyers catch wind of it and pounce.  Today's culprits just so happen to be Bethesda's lawyers, suing over Mojang Specifications (I never knew that was that actual company name.  Huh!) over their trademark for the game, "Scrolls" claiming, you guessed it, their usage of Scrolls infringes on Bethesda's usage of Scrolls in The Elder Scrolls series.

In a candid blog post by Notch, he explains that, well, this isn't exactly a surprise, since Bethesda started sniffing around all the way back when they first filed the trademark for Scrolls, demanding more information on their desired usage for it.  Notch was cool about it, since he's a big fan of Bethesda (I mean, he planned to launch Minecraft the same day as Skyrim, out of reverence, which, unfortunately won't be able to pan out) and started talking compromise right away to ease their fears on just how the word "Scrolls" would be used.  But Bethesda never really got back to them about it.

Until, well, today.  A 15-Page letter from a law firm in Sweden (where Mojang is based, obviously) showed up earlier today, demanding not only that Mojang immediately cease and desist using the term "Scrolls" for their game that isn't even in Alpha yet (I...don't think.  I have been out of the loop on Scrolls) and also to compensate them for court fees that come from.....threatening to sue them for their Pre-Alpha game that happens to share a common word with their major franchise.  At least, I would imagine that's why they want, quote, "a pile of money up front" when in the context of a pre-lawsuit letter.

For the record, Scrolls is looking like it's going to be a Trading Card Scroll Game of sorts, so the chances of getting it mixed up with any of The Elder Scrolls series are...rather slim.  But then again, I did google "Scrolls" and the previously linked website came up before anything for The Elder Scrolls came up.  Maybe that's the extent of research necessary before filing a lawsuit for infringement!  (If that's the case, Bethesda's lawyers need to get on Scrolls Unlimited and Scrolls from the Dead Sea, pronto!  Of course I'm kidding.)

I've gotta say, Notch is really going about this the right way, since he's totally right:  Lawyers do not actually represent a company, regardless of what you might think.  They're just there to protect the company from the once in a blue moon time when someone really screws around with your company's name or something, but the rest of the time, they have a need to justify themselves, lest they become redundant.  So until I hear someone from up-high in Bethesda really ration out that Mojang's trademark for "Scrolls" is infringing on their series in any way, I'm thinking the same thing here.  This is just Lawyers being Lawyers.  We'll just have to see how it pans out.

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