Notch: “I’ll fight Bethesda for as long as it takes”
Markus "Notch" Persson admits he may have made a mistake in his choice of Quake 3 as a means of settling his trademark dispute with Bethesda, but describes the publisher's claim as "bogus" and says he is prepared to go to court and "fight for as long as it takes."
Bethesda claims Mojang's upcoming digital card game Scrolls violates its Elder Scrolls trademark, and that customers will confuse it with its fantasy RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Earlier this week Persson suggested Mojang and Bethesda settle the dispute with a game of Quake 3, but speaking to Wired, he admitted he may have chosen the wrong game, given that Bethesda owns the IP and has several professional players on its books.
"If it came to a Quake 3 tournament, I have a feeling we might just have to change the name," he said. "In retrospect, it might have been the wrong choice."
While Bethesda is yet to respond to his challenge, Persson says that accepting it would be a good way for the publisher to save face. He says it would "bring both parties a lot of good PR," the alternative meaning Bethesda is seen to be bullying an independent studio that has made some €35 million from Minecraft, despite it being still in beta. Should Bethesda decline, however, Persson is ready to take the publisher on in court.
"If we're going to court, I will fight this for as long as it takes," he said. "It's a bogus claim, and [Bethesda has] several one-word-named games that share a noun with other games that precede [them]." One example he gave was upcoming Id shooter Rage, which he argues infringes on Sega's Mega Drive beat-em-up series Streets Of Rage.
However, one lawyer told Wired that Bethesda may have a case. "The basic question here is whether the two trademarks are likely to be confused," Mark Methentis said. "There's a pretty well-established test for this under US trademark law, and based on those factors, Bethesda has a reasonable argument.
"To me, the real question is the strength of The Elder Scrolls," he continued, pointing out that most games in the series are known by their subtitles – Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim – rather than their full names. "Even then, I wonder about the relative strength of Scrolls without Elder. That strength of the mark factor, along with evidence or lack of evidence of actual confusion, could be the determining factor."
Persson says that, for now, the matter is with his lawyers. He admits he does not know what kind of progress is being made, saying he finds it all "terribly boring."