The long-running lawsuit between Bethesda and Interplay (the original publisher of the Fallout titles) over rights to develop a Fallout-based MMO has concluded with all intellectual property rights to Fallout being returned to Bethesda. A license granted to Interplay to develop its own Fallout MMO has been declared null and void, and the company will receive $2 million USD in compensation.
Fallout MMO rights will revert back to Bethesda (and Bethesda parent company, ZeniMax Media) immediately. However, Interplay will be permitted to sell Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics until December 2013. After this date, all publishing rights will become the sole property of Bethesda.
The initial lawsuit focused on Bethesda’s acquisition of all Fallout intellectual property rights in April 2007 and the subsequent licensing back of certain trademark rights to Interplay so that they could develop a Fallout MMO. This license was provided with certain conditions, such as the need to generate $30 million USD of revenue and begin development by April 2009. Bethesda alleged that these conditions had not been met, and took legal action to declare the license null and void. The new court settlement did just that.
A second lawsuit was taken out against Masthead LLC, Interplay’s chosen developer of its Fallout MMO. This lawsuit has also been settled, with the result that Masthead “acknowledges it has no legal right to use any Fallout intellectual property, and agrees it will not use any such intellectual property of Bethesda in the future”. No payments were made by either party in this settlement.
With both cases now concluded, Bethesda will be theoretically free to start work on a Fallout based MMO of its own.