Bethesda Sues Interplay over Fallout, MMO Rights

By Chris Faylor, Sep 14, 2009 11:07am PDT

Fallout 3 developer and Fallout property owner Bethesda has filed a lawsuit against former owner Interplay to clarify that Interplay no longer holds any rights to the franchise.

Bethesda, which purchased the post-apocalyptic property from Interplay for $5.75 million, says Interplay never sought the necessary approval to re-release the original Fallout games at retail or via digital distribution, and no longer holds the Fallout MMO license.

Bethesda further claims that Interplay's unapproved re-releases of Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel though the "Fallout Trilogy," "Fallout Collection" and "Saga Fallout" bundles are "confusingly similar to Fallout 3" and "are in direct competition with Bethesda's Goods and cannibalizes on sales of 'Fallout 3.'"

Interplay's supposed continuing development of the Fallout MMO is also at issue, as Bethesda argues the MMO license was automatically terminated in April 2009 after Interplay failed to meet the conditions established two years ago.

Two days before Bethesda claims that the MMO license automatically terminated, Interplay sent a letter stating it was "in compliance with the requirements" and requesting an amendment so that it could "ultimately launch the FALLOUT MMOG to be compatible with and accessible on both handheld devices and consoles" in addition to PC. Bethesda denied this, contending that Interplay had failed to raise $30 million and enter "full-scale development," as the agreement mandated, by April 4, 2009.

Furthermore, Bethesda says that Interplay never formally responded to its declaration that the agreement had terminated, which invited Interplay to "dispute the forfeiture of license rights...within seven (7) days." Days later though, Interplay filed an annual report in which it "adamantly disputes" its failure to meet certain requirements of the agreement.

Interplay also violated the Fallout MMO license agreement, Bethesda says, when it entered into a funding and development partnership for the project with a third-party, Masthead Studios, without the necessary approval from Bethesda.

But while one of Interplay SEC filings appears to suggest that Masthead's project, codenamed Project V13, is separate from the Fallout MMO, Bethesda claims that V13 is a reference to Vault 13, "both the starting location and the the initial working title of the original Fallout game." In addition, concept art for Project V13 contains references to the Fallout universe, such as "Nuka Cola."

In compensation, Bethesda seeks unspecified monetary damages, including "Bethesda's damages and Interplay's profits...for Interplay's willful violation of Bethesda's registerd trademarks," and a declaration that Interplay's "continuing use of the FALLOUT Mark without authorization constitutes willful infringement."

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19 Threads | 84 Comments
  • First let me start off by saying I love Bethesda's games at least the ones they actually developed. the ones they just published suck ass. But if i were to say i was bias to either company it would have to be to Bethesda. But even in my biased opinion Bethesda is completely out of line!

    They did by the rights to the fallout series but there contract specifically said that they would let Interplay produce an MMO April 2009 (I don't remeber hearing anything about this 30 million dollar crap). Interplay did start development by then but from what i understand Bethesda has been saying the development wasn't "full-scale" what does full-scale even mean, probably means a different thing to each company because they don't follow some specific developers starting guide each time they begin developing a game.

    And all this stuff about redistributing the older fallout games... theirs nothing wrong with interplay doing so, although I do believe Bethesda deserves a very small portion of the sales after all they do now own the rights to the story. But they shouldn't be getting a cut because it's interfering with fallout 3 sales... every game that's being sold interferes with sales, and if anything the older fallout games interfere less than those other games because if people are getting interested in the fallout story then that should mean that more people will in turn buy fallout 3. (Even if it's not as good as it's previous titles the people who are looking to buy it wont know until thy buy it.)

    That's almost the end of my rant, but I have one last message to Bethesda stop publishing other companies crappy games it's ruining your rep. ohh and make your next Elder Scrolls game more like Morrowind and less like Oblivion. (sorry that was two things not one)

  • Sounds like Bethesda gave them 3 strikes and then it was time for the lawsuit. Clearly nothing was coming out of them but concept art which is pre-production. Looks like Interplay was just milking the franchise, perhaps trying to fund this Project V13.. which is almost certainly the MMO they should've completed so long ago or at least surfaced some form of progress! Like Free Radical's amazing Battlefront 3 footage. Who are now some Crytek branch I can't think of off the top. Look out for THOSE people instead of this lost cause.