Gearbox Sues 3D Realms Over Duke Nukem In Legal Groundhog Day

Gearbox is taking 3D Realms to court again to relitigate its ownership of the classic property.


It's looking like Groundhog Day for 3D Realms' lawyers. Gearbox is suing the company again over Duke Nukem, specifically as a countersuit in response to being sued over using music composed for Duke Nukem 3D.

Gearbox was legally affirmed as the owner of the Duke Nukem property in 2011 after buying the rights off 3D Realms in 2010. However, the company ran into some trouble when Bobby Prince, composer for the series, filed a suit over the use of his music in 2019. According to Prince, Gearbox did not own the rights to the music for Duke Nukem 3D, and it had used said music when releasing a 20th-anniversary version of the game.

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Fast forward to this year and Gearbox is now suing 3D Realms for the second time, as reported by PC Gamer. Specifically, Gearbox is suing 3D Realms for a breach of contract that took place when the former became the legal owner of the property. The suit alleges that 3D Realms failed to pass over "free and clear" possession of the Duke Nukem IP because it only owned the rights to some of Prince's music.

According to Gearbox, it had been promised total ownership over the property without the need to pay any third parties for related rights. The agreement that it entered into for the purchase of the Duke Nukem IP in 2010 was done so with the understanding that Gearbox would own all related assets, including music. However, being sued by Prince over the use of that music in 2019 looks like it has raised questions for all parties involved.

Gearbox is claiming damages, legal fees, and interest relating to the suit as well. No doubt this will include any damages or costs that it incurred when it was entertaining Prince's suit because that forms the basis of the company's legal argument around whether full and final ownership of those assets was transferred by 3D Realms as promised in 2010.

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