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Bethesda sues Interplay over Fallout licence

By Kath Brice

Mon 14 Sep 2009 7:57am GMT / 3:57am EDT / 12:57am PDT

Company seeks to terminate contract and withdraw rights to make Fallout MMO

Bethesda Softworks

The Bethesda Softworks division, founded in 1986, has a long history of success as a developer and publisher...

Bethesda Software has initiated legal proceedings against former Fallout licence holder Interplay for trademark infringement and for allegedly breaching the agreement the two companies signed in August 2007 when Bethesda purchased Fallout from the ailing publisher.

New Fallout owner Bethesda claims Interplay infringed its trademark when it distributed Fallout Trilogy, which packaged the classic PC games Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics, according to a complaint filed with the court of Maryland and reported by Gamasutra.

Permission should have been sought on the trilogy's packaging, advertising and promotional material prior to its release, says Bethesda, and customers have become confused between it and Bethesda's more recent Fallout 3.

Interplay's signing of licensing agreements with digital distribution sites such as Steam has further breached the trademark agreement signed, the legal filing continues, an action which has caused Bethesda "immediate, substantial and irreparable harm."

Bethesda is also asking the court to terminate the licensing agreement between the two companies which would allow Interplay to licence back rights to the Fallout property in order to develop a Fallout MMO.

It says the agreement required Interplay to have secured USD 30 million within 24 months of the signing to fund development of the game, and to have begun full scale development within that time, something Bethesda claims has not happened.

Bethesda purchased the Fallout licence from Interplay in 2007 for USD 5.75 million. The company subsequently issued a SEC filing in April this year seeking to end its contract with Interplay over the MMO's absence.

Interplay has repeatedly said that it intends to exploit its licence to make a massively multiplayer Fallout, and has also made announcements on the development of a thinly-disguised MMO called Project V13, believed by many to be the Fallout game.

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