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Legal Fallout Escalates

The rhetoric is escalating in the legal dispute between Bethesda Softworks and Interplay, as the two companies have expressed completely opposite opinions about the status of the Fallout intellectual property, which was sold by Interplay to Bethesda in 2007 with a provision to allow Interplay to create a Fallout MMORPG if certain conditions were met.

On the one hand, Interplay president Eric Caen tells Eurogamer that if Bethesda blocks their MMORPG, the IP will revert to them after one more Fallout game. "We sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda in exchange for a certain amount of cash and the right to do the Fallout MMO," he said. "If they refuse to let us do the game, then the sale of the IP is terminated, and they will be allowed to do only one more Fallout, 5." He explains: "The original licensing deal was for three games and their DLC," Caen states. "So they already did Fallout 3, then Fallout: New Vegas, and they can only do one more Fallout, 5, if the sale of the IP is cancelled by the court."

On the other hand, Bethesda's Pete Hines tells VG247 that Bethesda already owns the rights to the Fallout MMORPG, seeming to refute the idea that this was ever Interplay's. "We own the rights to the MMO," he says. "We own the rights to everything Fallout. The license is ours. Fallout belongs to us. Thatís what Iíll clarify. Beyond that, Iím not commenting on anybody elseís comments. Itís a legal matter. A specific MMO or project or any of that stuff, the lawyers are all going to sort it out."

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26. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 22:10 Silicon Avatar
 
entr0py wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 18:17:
It seems odd that people manage to be opinionated about this. The only thing that determines who is correct is the terms of the legal agreement. And since none of us have the legal documents, or the expertise to interpret them, all that is left is to bullshit.

Which makes it perfect fodder for an internet forum.

If for whatever reason the rights did revert back to Interplay, I wouldn't mind Bethesda coming out with a new post-apocalyptic IP. They can make their own lore and screw let Fallout die with the remains of Interplay. It's not like the Fallout universe couldn't be remade with a new name and fresh ideas. It's not *that* precious.
 
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25. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 21:10 StingingVelvet
 
Cutter wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 19:31:
Exactly, and if memory serves the courts have shot down Bethsoft 3 times now saying their arguements amount to nothing more than legal boilerplate. In other words, they haven't put forth anything meaningful that would nullify the terms of the contract. So, ipso facto, Interplay is ahead of the game at the moment, legally speaking.

The court has shot down Bethesda's attempts to stop Interplay's development of the MMO before the trial, preliminary injunctions and the like. They have never ruled against Bethesda as far as the merit and victor in the disagreements.
 
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24. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 21:07 StingingVelvet
 
Golwar wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 19:21:
sauron wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 14:19:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:07:
The chances of the court reversing the IP sale is extremely small, Caen is just trying to grab headlines. I'm sure they will retain the MMO rights in the end though, much to Bethesda's dismay.

And what Pete Hines is saying is not wrong, they do own the Fallout IP lock, stock and barrel, Interplay just has a license to do a Fallout MMO. The court argument is about whether they violated that license's terms.

Interesting. Are Bethesda allowed to do their own Fallout MMO, do you know? Because if they and Interplay went head to head there would only be one winner.

Not, they ain't. Interplay offered them the whole package, but Bethesda said that it was too expensive. So they cut the MMO part, with some requirements for Interplay to create said MMO themselve, which caused the current mess.

Zenimax owns the entire Fallout IP, MMO and all, everything. Interplay has a license to make an MMO, that is it. That is why Pete Hines is saying they own the MMO rights, they own everything.

This seems to be a common misunderstanding. Interplay has no Fallout IP ownership what-so-ever. They have licensed the right to make an MMO from Zenimax as part of the IP sale, but retain no IP ownership at all..
 
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23. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 19:31 Cutter
 
Golwar wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 19:21:
Not, they ain't. Interplay offered them the whole package, but Bethesda said that it was too expensive. So they cut the MMO part, with some requirements for Interplay to create said MMO themselve, which caused the current mess.

Exactly, and if memory serves the courts have shot down Bethsoft 3 times now saying their arguements amount to nothing more than legal boilerplate. In other words, they haven't put forth anything meaningful that would nullify the terms of the contract. So, ipso facto, Interplay is ahead of the game at the moment, legally speaking.

I could really care less anyway, it's not like this matters to any of us financially speaking. Nor do I believe either company has the chops to do a good MMO based on the IP regardless.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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22. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 19:21 Golwar
 
sauron wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 14:19:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:07:
The chances of the court reversing the IP sale is extremely small, Caen is just trying to grab headlines. I'm sure they will retain the MMO rights in the end though, much to Bethesda's dismay.

And what Pete Hines is saying is not wrong, they do own the Fallout IP lock, stock and barrel, Interplay just has a license to do a Fallout MMO. The court argument is about whether they violated that license's terms.

Interesting. Are Bethesda allowed to do their own Fallout MMO, do you know? Because if they and Interplay went head to head there would only be one winner.

Not, they ain't. Interplay offered them the whole package, but Bethesda said that it was too expensive. So they cut the MMO part, with some requirements for Interplay to create said MMO themselve, which caused the current mess.
 
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21. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 18:17 entr0py
 
It seems odd that people manage to be opinionated about this. The only thing that determines who is correct is the terms of the legal agreement. And since none of us have the legal documents, or the expertise to interpret them, all that is left is to bullshit.  
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20. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 17:13 venomhed
 
Go away Interplay, you lost, you suck, your time has passed.  
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19. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 15:56 Sacrifex
 
Having a preliminary injunction turned down means nothing in the long run - and certainly not that Interplay has the upper hand in anything at all here.

Outside of the imagination of a few misguided internet lawyers, Interplay is going to have a very tough fight ahead. There is no way a team of corporate lawyers left a gaping window like the one Caen is discussing here in a multimillion-dollar deal, then later missed it again and decided to proceed in a manner that would cost the company IP now worth far, far more than they paid.

Conversely, Interplay can just make whatever Batshit-crazyclaims they want - they've nothing to lose aside from their collective dignity, and they seem not to be to concerned about that.
 
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18. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 15:41 StingingVelvet
 
Cutter wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 14:46:
Bethsoft dropped the ball here, regardless of how anyone feels about Interplay, and so far the courts agree with Interplay. So, yeah, the entire IP may revert back to them. It's not like Bethsoft is the first company to make a bad deal. They got arrogant and now its biting them in the ass. That's not Interplay's fault.

For the court to go back and nullify the completed IP sale would take an awful lot of doing, I just don't see that happening. There were provisions in the contract where Bethesda could remove Interplay's license for the MMO, it's not like they were attempting to reverse the terms, just enact those provisions.
 
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17. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 15:40 StingingVelvet
 
sauron wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 14:19:
Interesting. Are Bethesda allowed to do their own Fallout MMO, do you know? Because if they and Interplay went head to head there would only be one winner.

I'm not actually sure, there may have been a provision about not developing their own MMO until Interplay's was out for a certain period of time or some such thing. The Vault, the main Fallout wiki, would be a good place to read more of the finer points, the guy who runs that site puts up a ton of this legal info.
 
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16. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 14:46 Cutter
 
Bethsoft dropped the ball here, regardless of how anyone feels about Interplay, and so far the courts agree with Interplay. So, yeah, the entire IP may revert back to them. It's not like Bethsoft is the first company to make a bad deal. They got arrogant and now its biting them in the ass. That's not Interplay's fault.
 
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15. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 14:19 sauron
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:07:
The chances of the court reversing the IP sale is extremely small, Caen is just trying to grab headlines. I'm sure they will retain the MMO rights in the end though, much to Bethesda's dismay.

And what Pete Hines is saying is not wrong, they do own the Fallout IP lock, stock and barrel, Interplay just has a license to do a Fallout MMO. The court argument is about whether they violated that license's terms.

Interesting. Are Bethesda allowed to do their own Fallout MMO, do you know? Because if they and Interplay went head to head there would only be one winner.
 
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Kittens!
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14. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 14:17 sauron
 
Eric Caen tells Eurogamer that if Bethesda blocks their MMORPG, the IP will revert to them after one more Fallout game. "We sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda in exchange for a certain amount of cash and the right to do the Fallout MMO," he said. "If they refuse to let us do the game, then the sale of the IP is terminated

Good luck making that stick. Whatever happens in this case, one thing we know for sure is that the lawyers who handled the original sale left a lot of unaddressed issues in the contract.
 
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Kittens!
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13. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 13:55 Silicon Avatar
 
There is no way to know who is right without being a lawyer and sorting through all the documentation. What a mess.

As a gamer, I wish Interplay would go away. They ruined all their chances - and they had some good chances too.
 
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12. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 13:33 Slashman
 
Quboid wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 12:38:
... and the real winners, the lawyers, buy another yacht.

Amen, brother, Amen!
 
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11. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 12:38 Quboid
 
... and the real winners, the lawyers, buy another yacht.  
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- Quboid
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10. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 12:31 StingingVelvet
 
bhcompy wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 12:10:
Quboid wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:55:
avianflu wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:46:
I get the same sense that Mag does. Interplay says that violating the sale agreement means the Bethesda's rights to the brand are terminated. Lawyers are the only ones happy when stuff like this happens.


That was the impression I got, but then what's all that about 3 Fallout games? If Bethesda have violated the agreement, surely they can't make any more? Or was there another, earlier agreement that would still be valid, for 3 games + horse armour?

It sounds like that before they sold the IP to Bethesda, they licensed them the IP for 3 games + DLC. So if the sale is void, they fall back to the licensing agreement, which was never voided, which allows them 3 games + DLC.

Yes. Originally Bethesda licensed the rights from Interplay to make 3 Fallout games and DLC for them. At some point during development of Fallout 3 they then went back and purchased the entire IP. To get a discount on that IP purchase they agreed ahead of time to license the Fallout rights to Interplay for the purpose of making an MMO. Interplay no longer owns any Fallout IP at all, which is why Pete Hines is right, what they have is a license to make a Fallout MMO. In that MMO license were certain parameters that Bethesda says Interplay has violated, like having a certain amount of funding by a certain date.

During this crazy lawsuit Interplay has filed as claim that because Bethesda is trying to stop them from making the MMO they have violated the IP sale/license agreement which makes the whole thing null and void, reverting the IP back to Interplay. It's a pretty big shot in the dark that has no real chance of working.

The 90% likely ending to all this is the court ruling Interplay can keep making their MMO and Bethesda still owns the IP.
 
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9. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 12:10 bhcompy
 
Quboid wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:55:
avianflu wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:46:
I get the same sense that Mag does. Interplay says that violating the sale agreement means the Bethesda's rights to the brand are terminated. Lawyers are the only ones happy when stuff like this happens.


That was the impression I got, but then what's all that about 3 Fallout games? If Bethesda have violated the agreement, surely they can't make any more? Or was there another, earlier agreement that would still be valid, for 3 games + horse armour?

It sounds like that before they sold the IP to Bethesda, they licensed them the IP for 3 games + DLC. So if the sale is void, they fall back to the licensing agreement, which was never voided, which allows them 3 games + DLC.
 
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8. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 11:55 Quboid
 
avianflu wrote on Jan 21, 2011, 11:46:
I get the same sense that Mag does. Interplay says that violating the sale agreement means the Bethesda's rights to the brand are terminated. Lawyers are the only ones happy when stuff like this happens.


That was the impression I got, but then what's all that about 3 Fallout games? If Bethesda have violated the agreement, surely they can't make any more? Or was there another, earlier agreement that would still be valid, for 3 games + horse armour?
 
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- Quboid
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7. Re: Legal Fallout Escalates Jan 21, 2011, 11:46 avianflu
 
I get the same sense that Mag does. Interplay says that violating the sale agreement means the Bethesda's rights to the brand are terminated. Lawyers are the only ones happy when stuff like this happens.

 
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