US publisher THQ has almost completed negotiations to sign Juice Games' street racing title Juiced, reuniting the Fund 4 Games owned title with the Acclaim-owned name - while legal clouds gather over Exclaim's involvement.
According to a statement from THQ, the court overseeing Acclaim's bankruptcy has approved the sale of Acclaim's holding in the franchise - thought to be the car manufacturer licenses and the Juiced brand name.
It's also believed that the game itself, which belongs to development funding and management firm Fund 4 Games, is set to be acquired by THQ, although a Fund 4 Games spokesperson today declined to comment on details of the deal, saying only that an agreement with the publisher was close.
Reuniting the brand and the game has undoubtedly been a legal minefield for THQ - at one point it's thought that Juice Games was facing the prospect of having to rebrand the game before it could be released - but it's still not clear whether all the pieces of the jigsaw are in place.
Court documents seen by GamesIndustry.biz suggest that the licenses for the music used in the game are owned by Acclaim's UK studios, which presumably forms the basis for former Acclaim CEO - and now head of the "Exclaim" group which plans to form a new publisher based on the Acclaim UK assets - Rod Cousens' claim that he hoped to sign Juiced for his new firm.
However, a number of the parties in the bankruptcy case are apparently disputing Cousens' claim to ownership of the UK studios - with major creditor GMAC objecting to the sale, and Acclaim's chapter 7 trustee, Allan Mendelsohn, claiming that there has been an "orchestrated effort by former fiduciaries to this estate to divert corporate assets and opportunity from this estate," and going on to say that "Mr Cousens' actions would strongly suggest that there are significant and substantial claims against Mr Cousens."
Court hearings in the Acclaim bankruptcy case continue to be heard in New York. Meanwhile, THQ is apparently delighted to have added the Juiced brand to its portfolio; "we are very excited to have secured the rights to this strategic, highly sought after intellectual property," the publisher's Jack Sorensen said of the acquisition.
"The team is off to a great start and now has the time to build Juiced into one of the premiere brands in street racing."