About that Oblivion film patent by Bethesda…

The gaming world is exploding today with news that Zenimax
Media, the parent company of id Software and Bethesda Softworks, has filed a
trademark for “Oblivion”. Specifically, that trademark is meant for use in
“motion picture film production; entertainment services, namely, providing
motion picture theatrical films in the field of fantasy games.”

Inevitably, that has led to speculation that a film
adaptation of the most recent “Elder Scrolls” game may be in the works. Don’t
hold your breath.

Guarding a copyright, particularly on a title that was so
successful at retail, is a standard move by corporations. And a recent
announcement from Radical Publishing made the action an even wiser one.

Radical last year signed a deal with “Tron Legacy” director Joseph
Kosinski to develop a graphic novel entitled – you guessed it – “Oblivion”. Last
month, reports
began circulating
that Disney had bought the film rights to the book.

Kosinski’s “Oblivion” is set in a future in which the
civilized world lives above the clouds, while alien scavengers call the
irradiated planet home. It focuses on a worker who finds a woman trapped inside
a crashed spacepod on the planet below.

Bethesda’s, of course, is the fourth game in the “Elder
Scolls” series and revolves around your effort to prevent a cult that plans to open
the games to a hellish world called Oblivion.

Of course, this doesn’t conclusively prove Bethesda has no
Hollywood ambitions – but I wouldn’t line up for tickets just yet. 

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  2. Nancy says:

    Please humor me as I clarify some terms used in this article, as the headline caught my attention… a company has filed a patent on oblivion film. Wow. What is oblivion film, I wondered. Then I clicked and saw it was a trademark application for the use of OBLIVION on a film.
    Patents are temporary monopolies granted to inventors of “new, useful and not obvious” inventions. Utility patents in the United States are for a term of 20 years during which time the inventors and their assignees can prevent third parties from using it. I’m only disappointed that an inventor hasn’t come up with some kind of film that recognizes bad pictures and destroys them automatically, but alas what Bethesda Software has filed is not a patent application.
    Copyrights are the exclusive rights that automatically benefit the creators of unique works upon being transfixed into some kind of permanent fashion. The exclusive rights granted generally are the rights to copy, perform and display. While the rights are automatic, it is advisable for creators to register the works with the Copyright Office in the United States to obtain additional rights. While I suspect Bethesda Software has copyright protection on Oblivion, it does not apply to the title of the work.
    A trademark is completely different than either a trademark or copyright. Technically a trademark is a method of consumer protection. A trademark identifies the source of goods so that consumers will have confidence in their purchases.
    Like copyright, however, trademark protection attaches automatically to marks that are used in commerce in the United States. While there are many, many, advantages to registering a mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a company can enforce their rights in the mark against a third party if the third party’s use is likely to confuse, or has confused, consumers. The key is that the mark has to be in use to enforce the rights.
    Now here what it gets interesting for fans of Oblivion. The owner of the OBLIVION mark has filed an Intent to Use application. When the United States joined a treaty a few years ago, it agreed to allow people to file applications for marks that were yet used but that the applicant intends to use. These “intent to use” applications are subject to the same review that marks that are in use receive. If the examining attorney deems the mark to be eligible for registration, however, they send a “Notice of Allowance” instead of a registration notice. The applicant has 6 months from the date of the Notice of Allowance to file a “Statement of Use.” If the applicant has not yet used the mark, they can file an extension that grants them 6 more months to use the mark. An applicant may file up to 5 extensions, so an applicant has up to 3 years to use the mark before the Notice of Allowance expires.
    So while there may not be immediate plans for an Oblivion film, someone at the company likely anticipates that there will be one sooner than later.
    Nancy Prager

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