The Gearbox/3D Realms legal battle over Duke Nukem is heating up

3D Realms fires back at Gearbox, saying they believe that they not only have the rights to make a new Duke Nukem game, but also that they own the Duke trademark itself.

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The legal tussle between Gearbox Software and 3D Realms over Duke Nukem is heating up. 3D Realms said this week that not only does it have the rights to develop its own Duke Nukem game, but it also retains the rights to the Duke Nukem trademark. But first, some history.

After 3D Realms--which is now owned by Interceptor Entertainment--teased new Duke game called Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction last month, Gearbox announced that it was suing the studio over unauthorized use of the IP and trademark violation.

Now, 3D Realms has filed a complaint against Gearbox and provided Polygon a statement explaining just why it needed to do so.

"On March 17, 2014, 3D Realms filed its answer to the complaint by Gearbox Software in Dallas, Texas. 3DR denies all allegations set forth in the complaint. In its answer, 3DR has submitted evidence showing that Gearbox at no point intended to enter into good faith negotiations but instead sought to force former owners, Scott Miller and George Broussard, to improperly surrender what rightfully belonged to 3DR."

"It is our position that 3DR retains the right to develop the tentatively titled 'Duke Nukem Survivor' [working title for Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction] game for specific platforms. This game was previously licensed for development to Interceptor Entertainment. Furthermore, it is our position that the Trademark for 'Duke Nukem' was never assigned to Gearbox, but remains the sole property of 3DR."

An Interceptor Entertainment representative added another statement on the matter. "It's unfortunate that Gearbox has shown no intention of finding a peaceful solution with us. We will however continue to work towards a solution," the spokesperson said.

In 2010, the Borderlands developer announced it acquired the rights for the Duke Nukem IP. It helped see Duke Nukem Forever to the finish line after more than a decade in development, and announced plans to develop other games in the franchise.

"Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand," Broussard said at the time. "They are very talented and possess the perfect perspective and understanding of the brand. Their vision for its future direction is exciting and unbelievable. I personally cannot wait for fans to see their unique take on the franchise."

In 2013, 3D Realms sued Gearbox alleging unpaid Duke Nukem Forever royalties, but then abandoned its claim, and apologized for what it called a “misunderstanding.”

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