Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bethesda vs Interplay. Sucker punch numero dos for Interplay

All Fallout® Intellectual Property Rights Belong Exclusively to Bethesda
January 9, 2012 (Rockville, MD) –ZeniMax® Media Inc. today announced that a settlement had been reached in the lawsuit filed by its subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks®, against Interplay Entertainment Corporation in 2009, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Interplay Entertainment Corp., seeking cancellation of the license granted to Interplay to develop a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on the Fallout brand. Bethesda maintained in its complaint that Interplay had failed to meet the conditions for the license and the license was therefore of no continuing validity.

Under the terms of the settlement, the license granted to Interplay to develop the Fallout MMO is null and void, and all rights granted to Interplay to develop a Fallout MMO revert back to Bethesda, effective immediately. Interplay has no ongoing right to use the Fallout brand or any Fallout intellectual property for any game development. ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million as consideration in the settlement, each party will bear its own costs of the litigation, and Bethesda will continue to own all Fallout intellectual property rights. Interplay will be permitted to continue to sell the original Fallout ®Tactics, Fallout® and Fallout® 2 PC games through December 2013, after which time all rights to market those games revert to and become the sole property of Bethesda. Under the original agreement pursuant to which Bethesda had acquired the Fallout property, Interplay was granted certain merchandising rights to sell those original Fallout games, but those merchandising rights will now expire on December 31, 2013.      

The lawsuit against Interplay arose after Bethesda Softworks acquired all Fallout intellectual property rights from Interplay in April 2007, and conditionally licensed back to Interplay certain trademark rights to make a Fallout MMO, provided Interplay secured $30 million in financing for the MMO and commenced full scale development of the game by April 2009. Bethesda alleged in its complaint that Interplay failed to meet either condition of the license back agreement but refused to relinquish its license and insisted it would develop a Fallout MMO.  Bethesda filed suit to declare the license void.

In a separate but related matter, Bethesda commenced a second action against a purported developer of the Fallout MMO, Masthead Studios, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd. In the course of the original lawsuit against Interplay, Interplay had claimed that it had engaged Masthead Studios to develop the Fallout MMO under its license, and contended that Masthead was engaged in full scale development of that game. Bethesda filed its separate lawsuit against Masthead to assert copyright infringement and other violations of Bethesda’s intellectual property rights. Under the MMO license granted to Interplay, Interplay was not permitted to sublicense any rights granted without the prior approval of Bethesda, approval which had never been requested or granted.  In responding to Bethesda’s lawsuit, Masthead denied that it had been using any of Bethesda’s intellectual property in developing an MMO. Masthead and Bethesda settled that second lawsuit on December 29, 2011.  In the settlement, Masthead acknowledges it has no legal right to use any Fallout intellectual property, and agrees it will not use any such intellectual property of Bethesda in the future.  No payments were made by either party as part of this settlement. The two settlements resolve all pending litigation over the Fallout intellectual property owned by Bethesda.

Robert Altman, Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax, expressed satisfaction on behalf of the Company with the resolution of the two lawsuits saying, “While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP. Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others’ legal claims.”

Good thing, bad thing? Yes, No, Maybe so. give me your thoughts on this ground breaking news on the future of a beloved franchise and lets see what road it heads down.

As long as we have the Ron Perlman Perk everything will be alright


  1. Personally I'm sad and happy about it all at the same time, It's tough for interplay to catch a break they have always been a provider of great games such as MDK, earth worm jim, wasteland, battle chess, descent, of course the amazing d&d games so on and so forth in a many number of ways. I wish you well Interplay sorry bout your luck. But bethesda you have impressed me so far the new fallouts are no originals but they are a great and timeless successor in their own right so good luck if you decide to make the mmo a reality

  2. Proud that Bethesda took the torch. They're doing just fine. Go Fallout MMO.

  3. good post great blog.. im in 2 minds interplay sold their rights and so shame on them for giving it up but i odnt know what the used the money for maybe just to stay afloat,, who knows.. so i dont feel that whole david vs goliath thing over old IP... they shouldnt have sold it in the first place and then had some revokable licence... should of made it unbreakable.

  4. Apparently they did have it almost unbreakable, but forgot the most minor of details. Bethesda was only allowed to make 5 fallout games and then the IP would be returned to Interplay or then renewed for Bethesda to continue, also Interplay still sells fallout 1,2 and Tactics which shows they planned on having the IP returned as they needed some way to restart all their games, which is why they are making HD remakes of earth worm jim,MDK, etc, Interplay has been out of the loop so long they needed to be relevant again. However I do feel Bethesda played dirty and intentionally screwed Interplay after their success with fallout I don't think they gave Interplay the proper amount of time to develop an mmo and what if it would have failed on the market I just think they could have given a classic gaming developer and producer more credibility. But either way whats done is done. I know fallout is in good hands, but an interplay fallout would have been the beez knees

  5. very interesting post ;] great blog following !