Bethesda has commenced Court proceedings in the USA against Interplay over the Fallout series of games (story first covered by Gamasutra).
The facts seems to be: Interplay sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda in 2007, as part of which they agreed that Interplay would retain certain license rights, including the right to develop a Fallout MMO. Bethesda now alleges that Interplay is in breach of that agreement and has infringed Bethesdra’s trademark rights in the Fallout series.
So, a straightforward piece of commercial and IP litigation then, which is likely to be of interest to the industry, given Bethesda’s current (and Interplay’s historic) importance as publishers, but also of interest to gamers at large for the impact it may have on Fallout itself. In particular, if this case continues there will eventually have to be disclosure about what exactly Interplay has been doing (or should have been doing) with the Fallout MMO.
In the meantime, a spirited discussion is fully underway at Gamasutra. One really very interesting point which has already emerged from that discussion is the potential PR impact of all this – does this claim risk Bethesda alienating its customerbase, even if legally the Court eventually rules in its favour? This is of course always an issue when a high-profile company decides whether to bring high-profile litigation and no doubt Bethesda will have carefully weighed up its option before deciding to act. Either way, we will be keeping an eye on this one…