Bethesda Softworks in legal dispute with Minecraft creator over Scrolls

Adam Rosenberg
August 5, 2011
Bethesda Softworks in legal dispute with Minecraft creator over Scrolls

Minecraft creator Markus Persson started out this morning on a positive note, proudly announcing on Twitter that the popular world-building PC game has now sold more than three million copies. Things took a sharp turn later, however, when another tweet issued forth, reading: “Just got a letter from [Bethesda Softworks'] lawyers. They claim ‘Scrolls’ infringes on their trademark and everyone will confuse it with Skyrim.” Persson quickly added in a follow-up tweet that he has nothing but love for Bethesda and this is “hopefully just lawyers being lawyers.”

Which is the right response to a rather silly situation. Scrolls is the virtual card game that Minecraft dev Mojang is currently working on. Elder Scrolls is Bethesda’s first-person RPG series, and a quite popular one at that, but “scrolls” separated from “elder” just becomes a word, and one that Mojang can almost certainly use for its game title. You don’t have to be a lawyer to figure this one out, though they’re what will ultimately confuse things if this situation goes far enough.

A subsequent tweet promised a blog update when Persson got home “with all the info I have,” and he stuck to his word. It’s probably best to just read what he has to say on it, but the long and short of it is: following discussions with Bethesda over the Scrolls titles that never quite finished, Mojang received a letter from a Swedish law firm threatening to sue in Swedish courts if the title isn’t changed. There’s also apparently a request for up-front coverage of certain legal fees on Mojanh’s part.

Sounds like Persson’s estimation was pretty accurate: lawyers being lawyers.