Take-Two settles with Thompson

Grand Theft Auto publisher and Florida lawyer drop claims against one another; Thompson agrees not to file or threaten further lawsuits.

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Two bitter rivals have come to terms, as Florida attorney Jack Thompson and Take-Two Interactive have settled their latest dispute, with stipulations that will limit the violent entertainment activist's ability to sue the Grand Theft Auto publisher.

Last month Take-Two filed suit against Thompson to prevent him from filing suit to halt the release of its upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV and Manhunt 2 games. Thompson had filed suit to prevent the release of Take-Two's Bully in the state of Florida last year under the state's public nuisance laws. While Take-Two ultimately prevailed in that case, it was forced to submit the T-for-Teen-rated game for a judge to review the appropriateness of its content.

Thompson responded to last month's suit by saying, "I have been praying, literally, that Take-Two and its lawyers would do something so stupid," and that the company's "misstep" would now "enable me to destroy Take-Two." Shortly thereafter, Thompson filed a countersuit accusing the publisher of tampering with a witness in an Alabama criminal trial, extortion, and obstruction of justice. Thompson later amended his countersuit to omit all mention of the alleged crimes.

The legal dispute is now over, as Take-Two and Thompson yesterday entered into a settlement agreement that will see them both drop their suits, as reported by Game Politics. However, there are a few strings attached.

Specifically, Thompson will not be able to sue Take-Two in any court seeking to restrict the sale or distribution of any of the publisher's games. He also won't be able to directly threaten Take-Two with a lawsuit arising from the sale or distribution of its games. Furthermore, Thompson has agreed that any further communications with Take-Two or its business partners will be directed to legal counsel (if it's in regards to existing litigation) or to a designated Take-Two contact person.

However, Thompson will still be able to criticize the company for the content or distribution of its games, and he'll still be allowed to represent others in lawsuits where they allege they were individually wronged by the company.

As for what Thompson gets out of the settlement, Take-Two not only drops its lawsuit against him, but also agrees to withdraw a petition in last year's suit over Bully. After Bully was approved for sale, Thompson circulated an open letter criticizing the judge's handling of the case. Take-Two responded with a petition for order to show cause against Thompson. If granted, the petition would have compelled Thompson to appear in court to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court for his comments.

When contacted by GameSpot for comment, Thompson said the settlement was "a huge victory," adding, "They dropped the contempt matter in state court. I got everything I wanted."

[UPDATE] Recently appointed Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick told GameSpot, "Take-Two agreed to this settlement as part of our ongoing resolution of outstanding legal issues. We're pleased that Mr. Thompson has agreed neither to threaten nor to bring personally lawsuits against Take-Two or our partners related to the sale or distribution of our products. As part of this settlement, Take-Two and Mr. Thompson resolved all pending litigation in the Florida state and federal courts. We will continue to defend aggressively our legal positions as well as pursue prompt resolution in the interest of our company and shareholders."

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