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Fallout MMO rights surrendered to Bethesda

Out of court settlement sees Interplay abandon claim for $2m

The long running legal battle between Interplay and Bethesda over the rights to publish an MMO based on the Fallout IP has been settled out of court, with Interplay surrendering its claim in exchange for $2 million.

Both sides will pay their own legal costs in the deal. Interplay retains the publishing rights to Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics until 31 December, 2013 - when they will also transfer ownership to Bethesda.

"While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP," said Robert Altman, CEO of Bethesda parent Zenimax.

"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 others' legal claims."

The legal battle first began in earnest in 2009, two years after the 2007 deal which saw Bethesda buy the publishing rights for the IP.

In that instance, Bethesda sued Interplay for allegedly breaching the terms of the 2007 agreement by publishing the Fallout Trilogy pack, containing Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics, claiming that the company should have sought its consultation on packaging and marketing to avoid confusion with the recently released Fallout 3.

It was also during this first case when Bethesda began to ask for the rescinding of Interplay's right to work on and publish a Fallout MMO, which it had granted on the proviso that Interplay raise $30 million to fund the game within the two year period, and to have started work on the game's development - conditions which Bethesda maintained had not been met.

Interplay retained its rights over the first three games in that case, but the issues over an MMO continued to be contested.

In 2010, Interplay president Eric Caen claimed that Bethesda could have bought the rights to the entire IP for $50 million at the time of the deal, but the publisher had refused. Caen also insinuated that Bethesda had expected to obtain the rights through litigation all along.

How much work had been completed on the game by either Interplay or its contractor Masthead remains a mystery. Bethesda has yet to officially confirm that it will be continuing or beginning any work on a Fallout MMO itself.

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