Couple things of note here to the flamers of what is supposed to be a light-hearted and fun speculation.
Even if the pickaxe did exist in previous Elder Scroll games, there was not a full enchanted effect like there is now. Plus Notched as an adjective does not make as much sense for a pickaxe as it does for an axe, a sword, or just about any other bladed weapon.
If they existed in a earlier Elder Scrolls game, then that would be 9 years ago for the last expansion of Morrowind at best, or even longer. That's a long time, and at least a tittle or more jumping to not have it, for them to suddenly include it now.
The lawsuit was with Zenimax and ID software, the business side of Bethesda, not with the developing team or direct project of The Elder Scrolls, so no, the recent lawsuit does not discount this. Also, Notch and Todd Howard, head developer of Skyrim, are friends.
And as to dragons in Minecraft "ripping off" Skyrim.. Uh, hello, Notch has been planning dragons since the beginning. They have been one of the most anticipated features, so why the heck wouldn't he squeeze them in before the release? Only the timing aspect in relation to Skyrim's release is vaguely suspect at best. And honestly, the way dragons die in Minecraft and in Skyrim are a pretty common depiction of a dragon dying, its not particularly new or unique.
Even if it wasn't an intentional easter egg, it is still amusing and fun to think of it as such, there's really no need to hate when the two game developers and teams like and respect each other.
I have no doubt, if there were no lawyers involved, there wouldn't be a problem. Its not a "stretch" to me in any case. The lawyers simply look out for the "best interest" pprpphhh, of the company, so therefore once Mojang entered their mark for scrolls, the Bethesda lawyers were jumping all over it like frenzied wolves.
I would say the Bethesda people in question, have no problem with the game, and probably do, in face, play Minecraft, but once again, its the lawyers that scramble over everything like everythings a personal insult to them, which just in turn makes a company look like frenzied wolves. This is probably Bethesda's way of saying no hard feelings, and putting the axe into the game, is, in fact like a tribute to a good game.
Wow, the level of illiteracy in this thread is really astounding. Both in the number of people that have no idea what a fairly common word like "notched" means and the number of people that haven't read any of the posts above them.
Guys look at the detail on it. You can tell that its enchanted which means they could have just renamed it "Notched Pickaxe". They could have even named in "The pickaxe of Mojang". They are obviously pulling something on us...
Coincidence or not, the same logic follows. If Bethesda can sue for using the word Scrolls, Notch should be able to sue for using the word Notch. I know it makes no sense, that's why i don't think Bethesda will win their case either.
I really don't want to break the fun, but as it has probably been said before there are "notched" axes in several other games and it really isn't an ode to Notch or something.. just google "notched axe".