Bethesda Reclaims Rights to the Fallout MMOG
Last week it was reported that Bethesda and Interplay had finally settled their long engagement over the rights to Fallout Online. According to a new press release on the Bethesda blog, InterplayÂs rights to develop the Fallout MMOG have been declared Ânull and voidÂ and rights have reverted back to Bethesda. As part of the settlement, Bethesda parent company ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million as part of the settlement.
The press release also details a settlement a for another litigation against Earthrise developer Masthead Studios for alleged involvement of developing Fallout Online without permission from Bethesda for Interplay.
As for now, the Fallout Online MMOG appears to be dead in the water unless Bethesda has something up their sleeve for the future.
FALLOUTÂ® MMO RIGHTS RESTORED TO
BETHESDA SOFTWORKSÂ® IN INTERPLAY LITIGATION
All FalloutÂ® Intellectual Property RightsÂ Belong Exclusively to Bethesda
JanuaryÂ 9, 2012 (Rockville, MD) ÂZeniMaxÂ® Media Inc.Â todayÂ announcedÂ thatÂ a settlement had been reached in theÂ lawsuit filed by its subsidiary, Bethesda SoftworksÂ®,Â against InterplayÂ 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 theÂ FalloutÂ MMO is null and void, and all rights granted to Interplay to develop a Fallout MMO revertÂ back to Bethesda,Â effective immediately.Â Interplay has no ongoing right to use theÂ FalloutÂ 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 BethesdaÂ will continue to own allÂ FalloutÂ intellectual property rights. Interplay will be permitted to continue to sell the original Fallout Â®Tactics, FalloutÂ® and FalloutÂ® 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. Â
The lawsuit against Interplay arose after Bethesda Softworks acquired all Fallout intellectual property rightsÂ from Interplay in AprilÂ 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. Â BethesdaÂ 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.Â 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 BethesdaÂs 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. Â In responding to BethesdaÂs lawsuit, Masthead denied that it had been using any of BethesdaÂs intellectual property in developing an MMO. Masthead and Bethesda settled that second lawsuit on December 29, 2011. Â 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. Â 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, ÂWhile we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoidÂ theÂ distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims toÂ theÂ 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 othersÂ legal claims.Â
Following the purchase of the property, Bethesda Game Studios, the 2011 ÂStudio of the YearÂ and the development team behind the 2011 ÂGame of the YearÂ, The Elder ScrollsÂ® V: SkyrimÂ, developed FalloutÂ® 3. ZeniMaxÂ MediaÂs publishing subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks, published FalloutÂ® 3,a highly acclaimed sequel which won ÂGame of the YearÂ honors in 2008,Â forÂ Xbox 360Â® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStationÂ®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows. Bethesda also published the popular title, Fallout: New VegasÂ®, in 2010 for the same platforms. Fallout: New VegasÂ® Ultimate Edition, which will include the original game and the award-winning downloadable content in one special package, is planned for release by Bethesda in early 2012.