Gearbox Sues Interceptor & 3D Realms Over Recently Revealed Duke Nukem Game

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Gearbox Sues Interceptor & 3D Realms Over Recently Revealed Duke Nukem Game

Duke Nukem

Borderlands developer Gearbox Software is suing 3D Realms and Rise of the Triad developer Interceptor Entertainment for trademark and copyright infringement over Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction.

Earlier in the month, Rise of the Triad developer Interceptor Entertainment launched a countdown and teaser site for Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, which has the badass set to star in a top-down action-RPG. While Duke Nukem fans might be excited to see how the Duke fares in an RPG, Borderlands developer Gearbox Software has thrown a monkey wrench into 3D Realms and Interceptor's plans, as it has filed a lawsuit against both companies for trademark and copyright infringement. According to court filings, Gearbox alleges that 3D Realms -- which was the original owner of the Duke Nukem IP before it was bought by Gearbox in 2010 -- "sought to privately convince others that the sale never happened." Gearbox has now issued a cease and desist letter on February 13, 2014, to 3D Realms founder Scott Miller, and series co-creator George Broussard.

Responding to the claims, Miller and Broussard has acknowledged and apologized for the infringement, with Gearbox stating, "As the filing shows, 3DR's wrongdoing is both admitted and unfortunate for everyone who cares about Duke Nukem." This isn't the first time 3D Realms and Gearbox crossed paths legally. Just last year, 3D Realms filed a lawsuit against Gearbox for alleged unpaid royalties for Duke Nukem Forever. However, mere months after the suit's filing, 3D Realms withdrew the complaint and even issued an apology.

Duke Nukem Forever is, of course, one of the most infamous games when it came to vaporware discussions. Stuck in development limbo in over a decade, the final game developed and released by Gearbox was met with universal disdain, with The Escapist's review even saying that "If you are stuck on a deserted island with only this game to play, go fishing instead. Worth playing so that you may be able to say that you did, but otherwise imminently forgettable and not worth your time.

At this point, do people even care about the Duke Nukem brand anymore? I gather that Interceptor's isometric action-RPG game might even benefit more without the Duke Nukem name to drag it down. Or could I be wrong and there are still hardcore Duke fans that are still waiting for the franchise's return to its former glory?

Source: Gearbox Complaint 1, 2, 3 via Joystiq

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Can't bring myself to caring about the situation, but as far as this news piece goes... I'm pretty sure it's a case of trademark infringement; not copyright.

That said, I'd be all for an Evil Dead game. There's a king worth hailing.

Wait, wait, wait, wait...

You mean 3D Realms never bothered to ask for permission? I mean, did they really think Gearbox would just be cool with it?

No, Gearbox are a bunch of dicks. No way would they have let it gone through without first getting a paycheck first.

I'd gladly play a Duke RPG so I'm kind of annoyed by Gearbox. I understand that Duke is their IP but you just know they're not doing anything with it other than sitting on it and that's what annoys me. It isn't a Gearbox thing, it's an industry thing...although I'm kind of surprised 3D Realms didn't try buying the Duke IP outright after DNF bombed.

Is Gearbox pissed someone might release a worthwhile DN game?

...Yeah, I get why they're doing this legally, I just had to take the shot.

Money from this lawsuit will likely be funneled into Borderlands 2 DLC.

JediMB:
Can't bring myself to caring about the situation, but as far as this news piece goes... I'm pretty sure it's a case of trademark infringement; not copyright.

Yup. Unless they took dialogie or elements of writing from a game, it's not copyright.

That said, I'd be all for an Evil Dead game. There's a king worth hailing.

Haven't there been several?

Shoggoth2588:
I'd gladly play a Duke RPG so I'm kind of annoyed by Gearbox. I understand that Duke is their IP but you just know they're not doing anything with it other than sitting on it and that's what annoys me. It isn't a Gearbox thing, it's an industry thing...although I'm kind of surprised 3D Realms didn't try buying the Duke IP outright after DNF bombed.

Don't be pissed off at Gearbox, they wasted millions on the IP only to get the mess that was DNF and end up with it seriously harming their reputation. I can't say I blame them for not being in a hurry to sink more money into it. Also can't blame them for smacking 3D Realms down for trying to steal their IP, this was a case of IP protection being used correctly as it was meant to be. The devs should contact gearbox about creating the game that was announced, I'm sure considering their success with rise of the triad that GB would be approachable atleast.

RicoADF:

Shoggoth2588:
I'd gladly play a Duke RPG so I'm kind of annoyed by Gearbox. I understand that Duke is their IP but you just know they're not doing anything with it other than sitting on it and that's what annoys me. It isn't a Gearbox thing, it's an industry thing...although I'm kind of surprised 3D Realms didn't try buying the Duke IP outright after DNF bombed.

Don't be pissed off at Gearbox, they wasted millions on the IP only to get the mess that was DNF and end up with it seriously harming their reputation. I can't say I blame them for not being in a hurry to sink more money into it. Also can't blame them for smacking 3D Realms down for trying to steal their IP, this was a case of IP protection being used correctly as it was meant to be. The devs should contact gearbox about creating the game that was announced, I'm sure considering their success with rise of the triad that GB would be approachable atleast.

I missed that part about 3D Realms just going ahead and not asking for permission. I still would have liked to have seen a Duke RPG of course...

Now, I don't know anything about copyrights/trademarks, but if I was in GB's shoes, I'd try to use this opportunity to sell the DN trademark to 3D Realms. Idk if that'd work, but after DNF, I don't think GB are in any hurry to try to make a new attempt at DN game. And let's be totally honest here, is duke nukem really worth anything at all these days? The last generation that gave a damn about duke nukem are probably all in their thirties by now... not to imply that people in their thirties can't be gamers, of course.

How on earth did 3D Realms expect to get away with that?

Maybe they were hoping that Gearbox would be too ashamed to remind everyone that they own the Duke Nukem property.

1. Heralded IP
2. Idiots who own(-ed) it.
Wonder what it would become of it if it was in the hands of Croteam or Flying Wild Hog though...

This is just baffling to me. 3DR obviously had to have known they didn't own The Duke anymore.
So either this is a bizarre publicity stunt, 3DR are paint-huffing imbeciles, or there's some other element we don't know about at work.

Zachary Amaranth:
Is Gearbox pissed someone might release a worthwhile DN game?

*snickers* Not like Gearbox had anything to fear there; it was 3D Realms.

Atmos Duality:
This is just baffling to me. 3DR obviously had to have known they didn't own The Duke anymore.
So either this is a bizarre publicity stunt, 3DR are paint-huffing imbeciles, or there's some other element we don't know about at work.

Zachary Amaranth:
Is Gearbox pissed someone might release a worthwhile DN game?

*snickers* Not like Gearbox had anything to fear there; it was 3D Realms.

Oooh, snap.

Talk about a low blow...

I don't see how anyone thought another Duke Nukem brand game was a good idea after Forever. There's also no way they thought they could get away with making it while completely ignoring Gearbox. I'm normally not one for elaborate theories, but I do believe there's a long game being played here. Maybe 3D Realms thinks they can stir up some legal controversy, get some buzz from that, immediately drop the character and the name from the game, then release it with a new title, hoping the notoriety generated by the legal action will do their marketing for them. They do this on the mistaken (but sadly common) assumption that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

However, this would mean 3D Realms believes people are smart enough to remember the news they read about Duke Nukem's legal troubles, but stupid enough to forget it was Duke Nukem, and still buy the game off name recognition alone. That is an enormous logical leap.

Well, I'm out of ideas. You could say 3D Realms are just morons and leave it at that, but even a total moron has a thought process. I cannot understand why they are doing this.

Atmos Duality:
This is just baffling to me. 3DR obviously had to have known they didn't own The Duke anymore.
So either this is a bizarre publicity stunt, 3DR are paint-huffing imbeciles, or there's some other element we don't know about at work.

Zachary Amaranth:
Is Gearbox pissed someone might release a worthwhile DN game?

*snickers* Not like Gearbox had anything to fear there; it was 3D Realms.

Er... Isn't Interceptor behind this, with 3DR publishing?

Atmos Duality:

*snickers* Not like Gearbox had anything to fear there; it was 3D Realms.

True. I just had to take the low road.

But yet, everyone saw this coming. Gearbox purchased the rights from them, right? If another company goes on making a game without their permission, they will get sued. Even if it's a shitty license like Duke. I mean, if we knew this was coming, Gearbox would have said something about loaning the property out, or giving another company the rights to make their own.

I'm not surprised by this, I'm just surprised on how long it took.

FYI I Am Some Guy:

Er... Isn't Interceptor behind this, with 3DR publishing?

Yes, and I do not envy Interceptor's position here at all.

Their publisher couldn't even figure out that they didn't own the rights to Duke anymore.
So right out of the gate, Interceptor's involvement is moot. Because 3D Realms.

Zachary Amaranth:

True. I just had to take the low road.

Reed Spacer:

Oooh, snap.

Talk about a low blow...

The low hanging fruit is there for a reason.

Oh no! Where am I supposed to get my masochistic male power fantasies from! I need a game that will allow me to escape from my man child persona, so that I can verbally abuse women even as they lavish me with attention! Where am I supposed to find a decent poop throwing simulator? Should I kickstart one?

Yeah, in case it's not obvious, I don't really care. This is one of the few franchises I find actively offensive. The only way this could be good is if they made a deconstruction based on Yahtzee's parody video. I would actually pay for that.

JediMB:
Can't bring myself to caring about the situation, but as far as this news piece goes... I'm pretty sure it's a case of trademark infringement; not copyright.

That said, I'd be all for an Evil Dead game. There's a king worth hailing.

My thought exactly. Lets get Ash in here. I'd be curious to see him react to Silent Hill.

*Pyramid Head crosses the hall, and slowly turns his head towards Ash*

*Groovy...*

I love how clearly you can see the hatedom hierarchy based on the comments. Company A announces plans to make game in franchise they don't own and Company B tells them no? Which company is yelled at in the comments is the one the internet hates more.

Well, that's rather funny. First, I don't see how they ever expected to get away with it. Second, I'm having a hard time not laughing over how accepting people seem to be of seeing Duke Nukem in a top down action RPG given how much flak other companies get for not keeping new versions of old IP exactly like the old ones.

Actually, I bet Gearbox is still ticked off that it rather unfairly got a portion of the flak for the travesty that was DNF. I can see how they'd be angry when the original owners tried to use an IP that they bought not only with their money but their reputation.

I'm kind of reading this as "You sold us a giant rodent on the basis that it was a prize showdog. We washed and groomed the giant rodent, and took it to a dog show, and were humiliated. Now you're trying to steal the rodent back under our noses?!"

Gearbox has definitely made some- *ahem*- questionable moves in recent history. But I haven't exactly forgotten 3DRealms' behavior- sitting on their one property of value, licensing it out to bring in tiny influxes of cash, claiming that perfectionism was keeping DNF in limbo, trying to hire people on the promise of royalties that were never going to exist. Basically, the powers that be blew their chance to continue to be a real games company- and it sounds as though they're now trying to pretend the impasse that came about from their mismanagement never happened and keep licensing out their one valuable property even though it's no longer theirs.

The only reason I can't just find it out-and-out despicable is it's too entirely dumb. And sadly, all too in tune with latter-day 3DRealms' head-up-their-own-backside way of conducting business.

Eh, a better bet would be to throw the IP away and pretend you ever had anything to do with it, I think.

Callate:
I'm kind of reading this as "You sold us a giant rodent on the basis that it was a prize showdog. We washed and groomed the giant rodent, and took it to a dog show, and were humiliated. Now you're trying to steal the rodent back under our noses?!"

Gearbox has definitely made some- *ahem*- questionable moves in recent history. But I haven't exactly forgotten 3DRealms' behavior- sitting on their one property of value, licensing it out to bring in tiny influxes of cash, claiming that perfectionism was keeping DNF in limbo, trying to hire people on the promise of royalties that were never going to exist. Basically, the powers that be blew their chance to continue to be a real games company- and it sounds as though they're now trying to pretend the impasse that came about from their mismanagement never happened and keep licensing out their one valuable property even though it's no longer theirs.

The only reason I can't just find it out-and-out despicable is it's too entirely dumb. And sadly, all too in tune with latter-day 3DRealms' head-up-their-own-backside way of conducting business.

Pretty much this. This is too surreal. If you had told me that a company would sell the rights to their intellectual property and then try to make something with it without the permission of the people who now own the property, I'd laugh at you. No one is THAT stupid.

Well, apparently 3D Realms is that stupid.

Beyond that, I kinda feel bad for Gearbox in this situation. Duke Nukem Forever basically ruined what was a once good reputation and they weren't even responsible for most of the thing. Sure, it wasn't the only thing that hurt their reputation, but it certainly hurt a lot.

As for a Duke Nukem RPG, I can't say I care that much. Not that I was ever a fan of Duke Nukem, but making an RPG with him, just seems weird. Like making a rhythm game with Goku or Wonder Woman. Would anyone think those things would go together?

Saltyk:

Callate:
I'm kind of reading this as "You sold us a giant rodent on the basis that it was a prize showdog. We washed and groomed the giant rodent, and took it to a dog show, and were humiliated. Now you're trying to steal the rodent back under our noses?!"

Gearbox has definitely made some- *ahem*- questionable moves in recent history. But I haven't exactly forgotten 3DRealms' behavior- sitting on their one property of value, licensing it out to bring in tiny influxes of cash, claiming that perfectionism was keeping DNF in limbo, trying to hire people on the promise of royalties that were never going to exist. Basically, the powers that be blew their chance to continue to be a real games company- and it sounds as though they're now trying to pretend the impasse that came about from their mismanagement never happened and keep licensing out their one valuable property even though it's no longer theirs.

The only reason I can't just find it out-and-out despicable is it's too entirely dumb. And sadly, all too in tune with latter-day 3DRealms' head-up-their-own-backside way of conducting business.

Pretty much this. This is too surreal. If you had told me that a company would sell the rights to their intellectual property and then try to make something with it without the permission of the people who now own the property, I'd laugh at you. No one is THAT stupid.

Well, apparently 3D Realms is that stupid.

Beyond that, I kinda feel bad for Gearbox in this situation. Duke Nukem Forever basically ruined what was a once good reputation and they weren't even responsible for most of the thing. Sure, it wasn't the only thing that hurt their reputation, but it certainly hurt a lot.

As for a Duke Nukem RPG, I can't say I care that much. Not that I was ever a fan of Duke Nukem, but making an RPG with him, just seems weird. Like making a rhythm game with Goku or Wonder Woman. Would anyone think those things would go together?

Oh, I dunno; I can think of a few ways a rhythm game with Wonder Woman could work...

*snrksnrksnrk*

This gets me thinking.

We are at a tipping point of sorts. On the doorstep of a new world but still clinging to failures of the past. Obviously copywrite infringement is not something that should be encouraged when it results in a creator not being paid for their effort because the consumer just downloaded it for free. So when the genuinely wrong aspects of disrespecting the ownership of the products creator by taking it is not even the worst example of infringing on someones copywrite when with seemingly increasing frequency we are seeing developers/publishers/distributors squabble amongst themselves trying to take, acquire or coerce the ability to profit from copywritten material as if it were their own.

Put this on the fire with the Bethesda vs Interplay log and the kindling of kickstarters proceeding to develop an existing IP without even discussing it with the IP holder.

If those people in the industry are out their squabbling over the already picked clean carcasses of dead properties, what does it say about the direction the industry is headed and what that future will hold.

Problems of copywrite has been pushing hard into "somethings got to give" territory. This sort of impractical chaos can only exist so long.

Saltyk:
Like making a rhythm game with Goku or Wonder Woman. Would anyone think those things would go together?

Actually considering what Dragonball Z combat are, a rhythm game actually fit, basically make it a bit like the game Sequence.

Fox12:
Oh no! Where am I supposed to get my masochistic male power fantasies from! I need a game that will allow me to escape from my man child persona, so that I can verbally abuse women even as they lavish me with attention! Where am I supposed to find a decent poop throwing simulator? Should I kickstart one?

I'm trying to wrap my head around how you could have a power fantasy that was masochistic in nature. Maybe you meant sadistic, though I'm not sure that fits either.

OT: I can't think of any reasonable way how 3D Realms thought they could get away with this, it's like they didn't get the memo that they didn't own the ip anymore.

... Or they forgot and needed a reminder. I'm not sure which is worse.

-Dragmire-:

Fox12:
Oh no! Where am I supposed to get my masochistic male power fantasies from! I need a game that will allow me to escape from my man child persona, so that I can verbally abuse women even as they lavish me with attention! Where am I supposed to find a decent poop throwing simulator? Should I kickstart one?

I'm trying to wrap my head around how you could have a power fantasy that was masochistic in nature. Maybe you meant sadistic, though I'm not sure that fits either.

OT: I can't think of any reasonable way how 3D Realms thought they could get away with this, it's like they didn't get the memo that they didn't own the ip anymore.

... Or they forgot and needed a reminder. I'm not sure which is worse.

"Sadism" is a more pertinent term, it's true.

I would say sadistic fits within the context of the game. It was overwhelmingly misogynistic as well. Lets not forget the classic level where the aliens impregnated naked, crying, retching women (whom you could kill) with monsters. The ever classy Duke responds with "it looks like you're fucked," and "why do the aliens always have to take the hot ones."

Anyway, I'm not surprised that 3D realms was actually this incompetent. It's not like they don't have a track record...

StriderShinryu:
Well, that's rather funny. First, I don't see how they ever expected to get away with it. Second, I'm having a hard time not laughing over how accepting people seem to be of seeing Duke Nukem in a top down action RPG given how much flak other companies get for not keeping new versions of old IP exactly like the old ones.

Well, to be fair, Duke Nukem is a side-scrolling platformer/shooter to me lol. Those are the only Duke Nukem games i ever played.

-Gearbox is well within their legal rights.
-everywhere I go, people are saying Gearbox should suck it up

Because, you know, who cares about that law thing.

Oh god I would love to see a *GOOD* duke nukem game. Even if they released a Duke Nukem Forever version with fixed loading times and high res textures I'd change my mind and probably like it.

But this? A top down? Really?
No. This is not how to fix Duke.

when they announced it and there was no gearbox name anywhere i was suspiciuos and i was right. cue the legal battles!

RicoADF:
end up with it seriously harming their reputation.

Gearbox had reputation? Maybe back when they made those Half-Life expansion packs in 2002....

Adept Mechanicus:
I don't see how anyone thought another Duke Nukem brand game was a good idea after Forever.

when it was announced surprisingly the comments here were cheering that. there still are people who believe it apparently.

Falterfire:
I love how clearly you can see the hatedom hierarchy based on the comments. Company A announces plans to make game in franchise they don't own and Company B tells them no? Which company is yelled at in the comments is the one the internet hates more.

Such is life internet. It does not matter who is right, only who is likable.

crispskittlez:
-Gearbox is well within their legal rights.
-everywhere I go, people are saying Gearbox should suck it up

Because, you know, who cares about that law thing.

If law is thwarting progress then the law is wrong. and most same people will agree that trademark law is messed up as well i bet.

DAMN IT! I HATE YOU GEAR BOX. Okay so before Rise of the Triad Interceptor asked GB permission to make Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded. GB said yes as long as they didn't sell it for money (talk about your dick move) Interceptor are a talented team of devs that know what they are doing and GB has only served to gets success from ripping other people (Aliens Colonial Marines)

Go to hell Gear Box and Randy Pitchfored

Strazdas:

crispskittlez:
-Gearbox is well within their legal rights.
-everywhere I go, people are saying Gearbox should suck it up

Because, you know, who cares about that law thing.

If law is thwarting progress then the law is wrong. and most same people will agree that trademark law is messed up as well i bet.

Preventing the development of a game is not so much "thwarting progress."

Magmarock:
DAMN IT! I HATE YOU GEAR BOX. Okay so before Rise of the Triad Interceptor asked GB permission to make Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded. GB said yes as long as they didn't sell it for money (talk about your dick move) Interceptor are a talented team of devs that know what they are doing and GB has only served to gets success from ripping other people (Aliens Colonial Marines)

Go to hell Gear Box and Randy Pitchfored

Because how dare a company exercise their legal right to copyright, amirite?

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