Fus-Ro-DOH!

ZeniMax threatens legal action against creator of "Dragon Shout" app

It seems that just about everybody is getting into legal trouble these days.

Take this sweet indie app for instance: “Dragon Shout” is just a harmless little map app that acts as a companion to gamers playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The problem? ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Skyrim-developer Bethesda, doesn’t care for this app too much. So much so that they sent out a copyright infringement notice to the creator of “Dragon Shout.”

Touch Arcade has had direct correspondence with the “Dragon Shout” developer, who they refer to as only Blalock. Not only has Blalock not yet received an official cease and desist notice, but he doesn’t even know what he is supposedly infringing upon.

He told Touch Arcade “I did my best to ensure the app was not violating anything. I looked up US trademarks and copyrights for ‘Dragon Shout’ and at the time there wasn’t any. I had the map hand drawn. I intentionally didn’t use any graphics or wording that would possibly be owned by Bethesda. So, I’m still not sure what they say the app violates.”

This isn’t the first time ZeniMax has been quick to whip out the lawyers — you might remember when the conglomerate sued Minecraft developer Mojang over use of the word “scrolls” last year.

“Dragon Shout” is actually a cool app for those who need some help keeping track of their Skyrim business. Be sure to grab it while it’s available, because it might not be for much longer.

Austin Regimbal is a former host of Dashboard: The Xbox Show on GAMEBREAKER.tv. Aside from covering game trailers for GAMEBREAKER, Austin has also written for KXLY 4, Spokane, WA's ABC affiliate.
  • Nhoj1983

    Well being that I work for a company that works with copyrights all the time.  I don’t take this as a “I want to bully the little guys” I take it as.  ”We have to protect our ip”   Thing is if you ever let someone do something with your ip… maybe it’s even beneficial and for the good of all but later someone does something similar but somehow benefits which isn’t.. they can point to that first guy as a precedent.  I wouldn’t throw sticks until we understand the how and why.

    • Exorcismos

      Except, they are not only protecting their ip, but going straight for the neck of a free app creator.

      This is how all will to innovate dies.

      • Nhoj1983

        Well do we know that?  I wouldn’t say the issue is them as much as the way the copyright law works.  I’m not party to every plan zenimax has for it’s ip. I’m just not going to throw stones with little info.

        • Kagitaar

          In this case with the information we have been given, it seems like they are just going with the ‘protecting IP’ bit, as there is no way they can win a court case here. So, regardless, they look like the devil no matter what happens as they will most likely bury this guy in legal fees. 

          I do agree that copyright law is ridiculous and needs to be purged and overhauled, it’s a mess.

          Edit: Oh, and it can’t be the strat guide thing either, or GameFAQs would have been shut down a long time ago.

          • MMO_Doubter

             Good point about gameFAQs, but I am sure there are lawyers tracking copyright changes for a chance to kill that site.

          • Kagitaar

            Which not only would not be possible due to fair use and even if they were able to wheedle a way in, imagine the backlash.

        • jayremy

           I question regarding the rules and philosophy about it. Do you think it is a morally right that is being enforced upon companies regarding copyright. I mean forcing companies to “be dicks” about their ip seems more infringing on the rights to have rights/ownership.

          I am basically asking I you agree that it should be in place on an ethical level.

  • MMO_Doubter

    Obviously, the copyright laws need to be changed to allow FREE guides/apps to be made and distributed. These aids INCREASE the value of the game itself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ronny-Sunrock/100002737688676 Ronny Sunrock

      I disagree that it increases the value of the game. I think all walkthroughs or “help” devalue the game experience. At least in single player games you can choose if you want to use it or not yourself and if you do you don’t ruin anyone else play experience.

      But I agree that the copyright laws need to be updated to better be in time with todays reality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ronny-Sunrock/100002737688676 Ronny Sunrock

    To many lawyers and to little to do so they need to invite new things to do. 

  • Rodrigo Gomez

    gosh they didnt do it first so they ,sue them , so they can make one themselves

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Soholt/635835851 David Soholt

      Or they might have a similar utility or app in the works already for future DLC (I doubt it but it is possible).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Soholt/635835851 David Soholt

    The issue here is that ZeniMax is legally obligated to defend against any possible infringement against their IPs; if they don’t then US courts will consider the IP to be abandoned and anyone can then use those IPs however they see fit.  It is strange but that is how it works.  The app developer probably should have attempted some form of communication about this project with ZeniMax or Bethesda before starting and this whole mess would have been avoided.

    It may seem like this is a bit over the top from ZeniMax, but this is what the US trademark and patent system compels companies to do.

  • Avaloner31

    Sad that Zeni Max/Bethesda has become like this. They used to be small and mostly people ignored them or knew nothing about them Ever since Oblivion and to lesser extent Morrow Wind’s success they have changed. Maybe they become to big and rich to quick or something and get off on their power trip.

    This sounds almost as dumb as the Mindcraft Scolls thing.