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Bethesda Denied Restraining Order Against  Fallout  MMO Co-Developer Masthead
Bethesda Denied Restraining Order Against Fallout MMO Co-Developer Masthead
September 23, 2011 | By Mike Rose

A court this week denied Fallout owner Bethesda Softworks' bid for a temporary restraining order against Masthead, co-developer of the embattled Fallout MMO from Interplay.

It's just the latest development in an ongoing legal battle that has Bethesda trying to regain full and complete control of the Fallout intellectual property.

After acquiring the Fallout IP from Interplay in 2007, Bethesda licensed the rights to develop an MMO based on Fallout back to the company, under certain conditions, or else the agreement would be terminated.

Then in 2009, Bethesda sued Interplay for allegedly failing to hold up its end of agreements regarding the company's development of the Fallout MMO, also known as Project V13.

But within months a U.S. District Court judge had denied Bethesda's motion for a preliminary injunction against Interplay.

Bethesda then filed another suit against Interplay and Fallout Online developer Masthead Studios, noting that the company is developing a Fallout MMO, but under an agreement between the two companies, cannot use any assets from the established Fallout universe, such as characters, settings or storylines.

Interplay later called Bethesda's interpretation of the agreement "absurd," noting that Bethesda never objected to the game as it allegedly knew what was intended by Interplay under the agreement.

This week, U.S. District Judge, the Honorable John F. Walter, denied the temporary restraining order requested by Bethesda against Fallout MMO co-developer Masthead, even before Masthead offered up an opposition to Bethesda's request for a temporary restraining order.

"[Bethesda] has not demonstrated that it will be irreparably prejudiced if the requested ex parte
relief is not granted, or that it is without fault in creating the crisis that requires ex parte relief," he argued [via Milford & Associates].

"Indeed, [Bethesda] was aware as early as February 2011 that Masthead was potentially infringing its
copyrights... Yet, Plaintiff waited seven months to apply for ex parte relief."

He concluded, "The Court finds that Plaintiff unreasonably delayed in seeking relief, and that the emergency that allegedly justifies a [temporary restraining order] is self-created."

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Chris OKeefe
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Bethesda has some hard-ass lawyers.

Between this ongoing drama with the Fallout MMO (jesus christ just let it go) and them threatening Mojang over a game called 'Scrolls' (which has utterly nothing to do with their Elder Scrolls series), I find my patience with them waning.

Who in the company is having the identity crisis? That's what I want to know.

Bart Stewart
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There does seem to be a lot more of this from Bethesda (or their Zenimax masters) lately. Is that an accurate perception?

This stuff is still pretty much inside baseball. For most gamers, Bethesda is probably still best known as a maker of good open-world CRPGs.

But word does eventually get around. It's not impossible that the simple narrative by which people remember Bethesda morphs into "those guys that are always suing people."

I can't see how that would be good for business.

E McNeill
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Bethesda Game Studios is the group of people making excellent Elder Scrolls and Fallout games.

Bethesda Softworks is the publisher behind them and a bunch of other studios. Bethesda Softworks is the one doing the lawyering.

I really think they should call the publisher Zenimax (the parent company) to avoid hurting the Bethesda name, but it may be far too late for that.

Nashnir N
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I can't see how this will affect business.

I really don't care who sues who or if it is Bethesda vs

As long as they release quality games, who cares?

Also as far as I know Bethesda didn't have a problem with Majong using the word scrolls. They had a problem with them trying to trademark it.

Simon Ludgate
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I care. Am I going to give Bethesda any money when I know they're going to spend that money on shutting down games I want to play? Hell no.

Chris OKeefe
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Having a problem with Mojang trying to trademark the title of their game, and saying that they don't have a problem with Mojang using the title 'Scrolls,' is a contradiction in terms.

I am not a copyright lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that the title of your game is pretty much always trademarked. Maybe I'm wrong here, but isn't that a bit like saying 'I don't have a problem with people eating meat, I just have a problem with people killing animals to do so?' It is fundamentally the same thing. You can't realistically have one without the other.

And I am with Simon. Companies have personalities, in a way. Some are benevolant, some are cold, some are mysterious, and some are just bullies. If a company is bullying other companies I may respect, trying to block games I may want to play, I am much less likely to support them.

Craig Page
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I would prefer it if Interplay didn't make the MMO, or any more Fallout games. They published Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, which were both great. Then they killed the franchise with Fallout Tactics, and then Brotherhood of Steel.

I'm guessing if they ever finish the MMO it will be okay, with mediocre expansions released every four months until people stop buying it and get so tired of the Fallout universe that Bethesda's sales suffer too. You'll know these predictions have come true as soon as you see the "Fallout MMO: Aerosmith" expansion released, by then it will have gone so far down the Guitar Hero path that there is no return. :(