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Interplay labels latest Bethesda legal wrangle "absurd"

Ongoing saga over Fallout MMO descends further into legal semantics over usage rights

Interplay has countered Bethesda's latest filing in the long-running saga of the possibility of a Fallout MMO, calling the company's stance "absurd".

The row centres on Bethesda's assertion, just before Christmas, that Interplay had only been licensed the name 'Fallout' for use in an MMO venture, rather than any of the associated assets or intellectual property used in the series.

Therefore, any Fallout MMO produced by Interplay would not be able to use any locations, storylines, characters or iconography of the previous games, such as the iconic 'PIPboy', as they were licensed exclusively to Bethesda.

Interplay's response, reported in depth on the Fallout Wikia page, also includes quotes from the 2007 Trademark License Agreement, in which Bethesda sold some fragments of the IP back to Interplay. Interplay claims that these statements explicitly allow it to use elements from previous games in any future MMO, saying that the use of the name without the brand renders it completely hollow.

The assets made available to Interplay by the 2007 agreement are those which: "do not use, incorporate, trade on or otherwise exploit any Fallout-related intellectual property created by Interplay or by Bethesda or by their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, successors or assigns, including without limitation any Fallout artwork, locations, graphic representations, story lines, creatures, monsters, names, likenesses, behaviours, environments (e.g., vaults), universes, settings, legends, characters, character classes, character professions, packaging, advertisements, text and translations, and any and all Fallout proprietary characters, trademarks, copyrights and artwork listed in Exhibit C-2 to the APA."

Developer site Gamasutra obtained the January 7 court filing in full - publishing the following excerpts.

"Bethesda's interpretation requires Interplay to develop and release an MMOG under the Fallout name, but unrelated to the Fallout brand," it read. "First, this is not only absurd, but is specifically prohibited by the agreement because Interplay was only granted a 'license and right to use the Licensed Marks on and in connection with its Fallout-branded MMOG...and for no other purpose."

The statement points out that, "It was not the parties' intent that Interplay create, for example, an online baseball game or poker game called 'Fallout'" and that if the ruling is allowed, Interplay are being "denied the fundamental benefit of using the trademark".

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Latest comments (2)

Even if Interplay should be legally correct, Bethesda surely would build the better MMO. I guess everyone knows this anyway and it just a way to extract the most of the Fallout license before the game is even produced.
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Max Taha Project Lead, Lethal Concept, LLC5 years ago
Even if Bethesda does have the assets and the manpower to produce a better Fallout MMO, that does not give them the right to manipulate and twist the essence of the established contract between them and Interplay. Bethesda should revise their legal team's approach or they'll end up with another embarrassing episode.
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