Bethesda sues Interplay over Fallout

[UPDATE] Fallout 3 developer accuses original publisher of breach of contract, trademark infringement over stillborn MMORPG and selling Fallout games on Steam, GOG.com, and GameTap.

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Three years after licensing the Fallout intellectual property in 2004, Bethesda Softworks bought it outright for $5.75 million from Interplay, which created the franchise. Under the terms of the deal, Bethesda licensed the rights to make a Fallout massively multiplayer online role-playing game back to Interplay, with the caveat that the fallen publisher had to start full-time development within two years. That deal imploded in April, when Bethesda, dissatisfied with Interplay's efforts, revoked the Fallout MMORPG rights.

Bethesda contends that Interplay's unsanctioned sales of games like Fallout 2…

This week, the Bethesda-Interplay disagreement was elevated to a legal level, when Bethesda filed suit in federal court in Maryland. The suit accuses Interplay of 10 counts of breach of contract and trademark infringement by not abiding by a trademark license agreement (TLA) it had with Bethesda. The first was in relation to the Fallout MMORPG, which stipulated that Interplay had to have raised at least $30 million in funding for the project by the end of March 2009. As evidence such fund-raising did not occur, Bethesda points to a June 30 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which said Interplay had $2.54 million in debt and only $16,000 in cash assets.

Bethesda's complaint also claims that 11 days after being informed that the Fallout MMORPG license had been revoked and it could not enter into a deal with any third parties, Interplay formalized a deal with Bulgarian studio Masthead to develop the MMORPG Project V13.

The second part of the suit accuses Interplay of riding the coattails of Fallout 3 by re-releasing and repackaging older Fallout games without permission. Specifically, it says that the company was selling a compilation of Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics as boxed products called "Fallout Trilogy" and "Saga Fallout." The packaging of any such new boxed product needed to be approved by Bethesda, which claims it never did so. Bethesda also feels the name "Fallout Trilogy" was deliberately misleading consumers into thinking the compilation contained Fallout 3.

…diminished the Fallout 3 brand.

Finally, Bethesda accuses Interplay of entering into deals with several online game distributors without its consent, violating the licensing agreement yet again. GameTap, Good Old Games (aka GOG.com), and Valve Software's Steam service are all named as outlets that sold Fallout products without any permission from Bethesda, in violation of the licensing agreement.

Bethesda is demanding that the court formally declare that Interplay no longer has any rights to the Fallout name or trademark. It also wants the court to place a preliminary and permanent injunction on Interplay to stop it from selling any Fallout-branded products. It also wants Interplay to submit in writing a declaration that it no longer has any rights to the Fallout brand.

[UPDATE] Bethesda is not seeking a specific monetary amount in punitive damages, as many lawsuits do. However, it is, as is standard practice in virtually all lawsuits, asking to recover any attorney's fees resulting from the suit. It also wants Interplay to forfeit any profits it took from sales of Fallout games that violated the licensing agreement, as well as unspecified "damages pursuant to Delaware statutory and common law."

(GameSpot initially reported that Bethesda was seeking no monetary damages whatsoever, and regrets the error.)

Discussion

749 comments
nate1222
nate1222

I'm a fan of Bethesda's work, especially Fallout 3 and Oblivion (both for PC). I'm gonna gon down in flames for saying this, but... Interplay should be allowed to sell their previous Fallout works. Bethesda didn't create Fallout 1, 2 nor Tactics...Interplay did. Thus, Interplay should be permitted to get paid for their work. Now watch all of the (Bethesda) fanboy sheeple hate to the bitter end over what I just said.

yasso
yasso

I personally think that the original Fallouts, 1 and 2, were far deeper and better than Fallout 3. I didn't even finish Fallout 3 through. :( Oh, in fact, I didn't even finish Oblivion on the Xbox 360! I've no idea how people play these games to the end. They are expansive and big worlds, yes, but I don't see any depth, any character. Honestly, take an arid burning forest from the Oblivion world, take a nuked forest from the Fallout 3 world, put them side by side, and I doubt you'll see any real difference. Even the voice-over actors are very much the same in Fallout 3 and Oblivion. I was really disappointed in Fallout 3. Yeah, it deserved a rating of 8.5 to 9.0 out 10, but nothing more, and definitely nothing to be put on the Classics shelf, like Fallout 1 and 2. I think it is BioWare that should've taken the Fallout franchise over, rather than Bethesda. They did awesome work in the Mass Effect series, and also in Dragon Age. Mass Effect 2 is far better than Fallout 3, and Dragon Age: Origins is far better than Oblivion. And they're comparable. If a Fallout MMORPG is ever to be developed, it must be taken by Interplay or BioWare, at any cost. Giving it to Bethesda would be a catastrophe to such a potential amazing MMOs. Enough said.

Tasnuv
Tasnuv

INTERPLAY > BETHESDA

september_basic
september_basic

First of all, the game between Bethseda and Interplay looks dodgy from all angles. I cannot quite bring myself to say what I feel is right, because it would have me cheering for what seems to be the wrong side. Still, to valorise any side seems weird. Bethseda could've allowed Interplay to gain moneys from prior work (but might have stipulated a proceed to be provided to the creative employee who made Fallout). Interplay might have took up new creative personnel. All they'd have to do is go to Gencon or a good SF Convention to find numerous quality creative people. And the technical schools are filled with capable programmers. It's not like computer programmers are rare as star athletes. I remember when the first screens for Fallout 3 began surfacing. I was enthusiastic that maybe Bethseda had new employee with brains and would come up with a game exceeding Elder Scrolls in ambition and game-play opportunities. Sad to say, it was just another gunfest. The game was just fight after fight without much personality. It's high time Bethseda and other game design corporations moved out of the mindset of the treasure filled maze and monster slaying game. RPG can have treasure-filled mazes with monsters, but one must keep in mind what RPG is moving towards: grand strategy role-playing games. Both the individual and the larger social environment. The good games are so rare because game design companies are deluded into believing it takes a rare mind to fuel an unbelievably innovative game. From what I've seen from fans and private individuals, it's not really rare at all. It's just they employ the wrong guys, guys who would prefer to script gunfights than script reactive game opportunity.

barryjones009
barryjones009

Regardless of the court case, i have to say that Fallout 3 was one of the worst sequels ever made. The first two are classics, whereas Fallout 3 was just dull.

Whisperwind4
Whisperwind4

Woah, so many Bethesda fanboys/girls posting the same sheep comments all over again when it should've been canned by the 10th person. That's what happens when you give up individual thought for "goverments" and "laws" running your lives for you. Goverment is by right a privilege by which the population should keep in check. Anyhow, as Thomas Jefferson says, ignorant people don't deserve to live free. Back to the topic, corporate laws are meant to protect the entities who send money in the right direction, alright? They have nothing to with fairness or justice. Most importantly, Interplay does have the right to sell and distribute the rest of their old Fallout franchise, except they needed to ask Bethesda for approval for it's marketing. And according to insiders, Bethesda were planning to flat-out refuse them. So,if you wanna argue, get your facts straight and quit touting the stupid law line like a broken record. Also, Interplay fans are not urguing the legalities of the situation, but simply hating on Bethesda for it's actions, which they have EVERY RIGHT to as much as the Bethesda fans for gloating in glee over Interplay's fate. For the Bethesda fanboys/girls to go around rating all of Interplay's fans comments a negative shows their astute childishness and pettiness. Like company, like fans.

eyerok
eyerok

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Cabal23
Cabal23

@X-RS Then maybe they shouldn't have sold it to Bethesda for 5.75 MILLION dollars. Would you still claim the rights to a car you sold to a friend so that you could go deliver pizza's in it? Wow the IQ here on this forum is dipping to new lows.

sparowprime
sparowprime

If Bethesda bought the fallout property, then it is legally theirs and theirs alone to use as only they see fit, regardless of who created it. Having the previous owner take liberties with a sold property is just plain stealing. Granted I'm glad they did it because I bought the trilogy and love it, but that dosn't make them any more just. Still, I think it would be great if the trilogy were packaged with the fallout 3 game of the year edition, like when metal gear 3 added the earliest versions of the series on Substance.

happyemonathan
happyemonathan

i'll admit i'm an interplay fanboy loved all their old games like decent, fallout, baldaurs gate, teranova etc but bethesda did buy the rights to the fallout franchise so i suppose what interplay is doing isn't legal and they should pay for it. but it gets me how interplay managed to sell so many copies of their original fallout franchise without bethesda or anyone else without even raising an eyebrow?! seriously this isnt brand new news hot off the press my younger brother bought the original three 1 year before fallout3 even came out? i know there's alot of people out there that love bethesda and the two games that tod howard has spearheaded (eldar scrolls 4 oblivion and fallout3) but if you've ever played the originals they are far better games. maybe not graphically but gameplay wise they're masterpieces. tod howard settles for good maybe great graphics and has gameplay as an afterthought. to all the fans of the new fallout. go back and play the originals i promise you, you will not be dissapointed, completely different but far more interesting, i actually ended up caring about the characters in the original. in FO3 i didnt even care when my dad died.... big woop he was only in it for 5 minutes (what an unloving father) so my point is. dont bag fanboys for standing by their beloved interplay (although they are being idiots) go back, play the originals, and someone punch tod howard in the face for his gameplay ideas (graphics and action is awesome though)

jin-ro
jin-ro

cant belive it ,how interplay after 1 and 2 fallout succes now has no rights and is in deep s....t ??????

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

...and here I thought that Interplay was finished with bringing shame upon itself, its former IP, and the industry. Quit, already -- you're ruining the fond memories of everything from Bard's Tale onward!

Lone_Recon
Lone_Recon

Seems to me like Interplay is at fault.

Spartan-1657
Spartan-1657

I read the update and have to state that Bethesda is pretty cool for not charging for monetary purposes. It isn't a direct attack that they are charging for attorney's fee's and what Interplay made in profit from the "trilogy" pack. Completely and 100% understandable. Charging for an attroney fee since this court case should have never even happened if Interplay wasn't stupid. And also demanding the profits they made as well since Interplay made profit on a product they had no right to sell. Interplay is 100% at fault, I don't care what way you spin it or how much you like Interplay, you can't be upset at Bethesda. It is Interplay that is burying themselves.

Crossel777
Crossel777

Interplay, this is what happens when you sell your soul to a greedy company such as Bethesda. First they butcher your masterpiece franchise known as Fallout then they sue you.

zeniftan
zeniftan

@Paul_GameFury: They don't make enough money for that to matter.

zeniftan
zeniftan

NEWS JUST IN! Interplay has just created a "new" game. It involves putting ones hands together in a joint fist and twiddling ones thumb's.

Keasar
Keasar

Maybe this lawsuit will put this almost dead horse out of its misery. Everything that was great about interplay left many years ago.

Paul_GameFury
Paul_GameFury

Interplay selling the Fallout Trilogy without Fallout 3 is just shady and dishonest. Fallout Tactics was clearly a spin-off. I am impressed that Bethesda is just going after attorney fees and isn't looking to line their pockets the way most of these lawsuits do.

Mr_Versipellis
Mr_Versipellis

love TES, but Bethesda are getting increasingly dodgy... it scares me. Well, at leat there's BioWare.

X-RS
X-RS

and for petes sake people use the coments ratings properly. i know you either love fallout 3/bethesda or interplay/fallout, but clicking just read others comments is quite boring since they are even more the same. leave a negative if its offensive or something not "i reject your reality and substitute my own"

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

You know lukas1051, I can really imagine you being some ignorant sloth, just sitting on the couch in your underwear and a Superman shirt. If you read this, you'd know that the Fallout MMO is in jeopardy right now.

Extreme124
Extreme124

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

X-RS
X-RS

wow, i see bethesda as disgusting. making an appeal/suing for perhaps a name change, that makes sense, but NNNOOOOO!!!! thats not good enough. well make one of the more adventurous and inventive developers (interplay) be unable to have any chance of prospering with releasing a game series it developed for purchase. THAT right there is an a very insulting/stupid/disrespectful move. now the other stuff is obviously more intricate and im not necesarily leaning on a side, but BETHESDA CANNOT PROFIT FROM THE PREVIOUS FALLOUT ENTRIES!!!! the price/sue should be much lower, by that i mean placing tighter restraints. not removing fallout 1,2,etc. from store shelves (the trilogy title is misleading but any idiot should be able to see the packaging, less youre blind and cant play anyway).

Timb3rWolf
Timb3rWolf

Even though Bethesda have every right to sue Interplay, its still pretty sad they're suing the very people who created one of the best RPG Games ever. License or no license, Interplay made Fallout what it is today....

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

Bethesda cant even make a port correctly......and how sad that gamespot used that specific title in the graphics comparison. try comparing forza and GT5 or halo and killzone or gears and resistance.

thingta42
thingta42

Dunno why people are supporting Beshesda on this..

Warren360x1
Warren360x1

@Urik_187 "Clap clap clap" Well said

Kirky-
Kirky-

Well, I've gotta say it sucks that I won't be able to grab that Fallout 1 & 2 Package off Steam.

MrQuest77
MrQuest77

i agree completely steven141

Urik_187
Urik_187

i think its sad that a great company like Interplay has fallen so far that it holds onto licences it cannot deliver on. although i was not completely satisfied with Fallout 3, I am grateful to Bethesda for making the Fallout name and universe alive again

steven141
steven141

Bethesda has every right to sue, but it's still sad to see the creator of the franchise being sued over selling own creation.

BenBenBen93
BenBenBen93

well they have reason to sue. they must of sold a few games on the run up to fallout 3 and well a fallout 3 mmo would of generated a lot of revenue for bethseda.

lukas1051
lukas1051

tl;dr, as long as we get a Fallout MMO, I don't really care.

Wasup_Chuck
Wasup_Chuck

Bethesda had no intention of ever releasing the original fallouts now they are giving interplay the shaft for giving the players what they want. " Bethesda will recover any attorney's fees resulting from the suit. It also wants Interplay to forfeit any profits it took from sales of Fallout games" Yeah very noble of them huh let nterplay keep their damned profits just this once Bethesda you greedy S.O.Bs

troykus87
troykus87

All you fanboys who claimed Bethesda were so noble for not taking monetary damages needs to read the update and get your head out of your asses.

Autolycus
Autolycus

Good job Bethesda/Zenimax for holding Interplay responsible. This is actually a useful punishment for them breaking their agreement, which speaks a millions times more then the u.s. government.

Joeker96
Joeker96

ah...bet the original developers are a bit depressed right now

StarvingPoet
StarvingPoet

Life Lesson: Remember - always read before you sign - it is your own fault for signing a bad contract. It is no one's fault but Interplay for this lawsuit.

scottlillie
scottlillie

It's interplays own fault. they accepted $5.75 for the licensing then they go and make more money against the agreement.

andalore
andalore

Ouch, i hope I dont get my fallout games i bought on steam revoked...

Crombian
Crombian

That's awfully generous of Bethesda to not be seeking any punitive damages. Although, that's likely a result of Interplay being insolvent with only $16k in assets to its name. Ouch.

JunglemanchiId
JunglemanchiId

I bought the trilogy box for £9, anyone that thinks they are getting Fallout 1, 2 and 3 for that price deserves to be ripped off

Ravenor12345678
Ravenor12345678

@ Predator_Spear, if anyone is guilty of "raping the franchise" its Interplay. They sacked the creators of the franchise, then decided we would be gullible enough to buy anything with the Fallout Logo on and churned out Brotherhood of Steel. Had the franchise remained at Interplay we would no doubt have seen vapid sequel after vapid sequel. At least Bethseda are trying to remain true to Fallout's glorious past, even if they cant quite match it.

giedrius1001
giedrius1001

bethesda is one of the greatest rpg developers nowadays, i hope so stepping in mmo-rpg section will be as same great as it was on rpg

Neogenic
Neogenic

Just another lawsuit in the gaming industry.