Interplay and Bethesda have been back-and-forth in court over ownership of the Fallout franchise. The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled against Bethesda in their appeal of the second injunction against Interplay, which means a trial by jury will commence on December 12.
Interplay, of course, owns Fallout’s franchise rights, but licensed them to Bethesda for the creation of Fallouts 3, 4, and 5 with rights to an MMO RPG left to Interplay. Later, as the game saw only moderate popularity on the console, Interplay sold the franchise entirely to Bethesda, still retaining rights to any multi-player version of the game.
Of course, then Fallout: New Vegas hit the stands and was a huge sensation worth many millions of dollars. So a legal battle ensued in which Bethesda claimed ownership rights of all of Fallout, not just the console and PC games.
So the court battle commenced. Interplay, secure in their belief of ownership, began work on the Fallout MMO. Bethesda quickly intervened claiming irreparable harm with a court injunction to cease and desist. Interplay contested and won, so Bethesda took it to appeal. Now they’ve lost that.
The overall question of ownership of the franchise, and specifically the MMO aspect, are still in the courts, however, and will go before a jury in December.
If it goes quickly, either Bethesda or Interplay will be winning a potential million dollar (plus) Christmas present. It could be even more than that since Interplay’s countersuit could actually take ownership of much of the revenue from Fallouts 3 and New Vegas as well as the upcoming Fallout 4 and potential 5 too.
Who knew civil court could be so interesting?