Interplay vs. Bethesda Court Transcript, Round Two

Interplay vs. Bethesda Court Transcript, Round Two


The second part of the transcript of the preliminary injunction hearing between Interplay and Bethesda has been posted, showing the two sides arguing over contract language, TLAs and what Interplay will do with Project V13 if it loses the case.

In part one of the transcript, posted a couple days ago, lawyers for Interplay and Bethesda laid down their basic arguments in their openings: Bethesda alleged that, because Interplay's Fallout-based MMOG isn't in "full scale development," it had breached its contract and is infringing on the Fallout trademark, while Interplay claimed that the contract has not been breached and thus the trademark violation did not, and could not, occur.

The second part of the transcript, posted on Duck and Cover, gets down to the nitty-gritty a bit more, with Mr. Gersh for Interplay arguing that the two main provisions of the MMOG license contract were made intentionally vague so the company would have no way of determining with any certainty whether or not it was in compliance.

"We're here on a preliminary injunction. It's got to be clear. It's going to go unambiguous. And I submit, Your Honor, you don't even need testimony if Your Honor looks at those two provisions and says, 'Wait a second. Is there any definition of these [terms]? Is there any way I can determine as the Court what these mean and when this was suppose to happen for Interplay?'" he said. "And when your answer comes up 'Nope. There's nothing in the agreement,' we should all go home."

One of the reasons, according to Gersh, is that while Bethesda entered the negotiations with a squad of seven people, including at least two lawyers, Interplay was represented solely by Herve Caen, the CEO since 2001 and the one guy in the world who seems to have a genuine, almost desperate interest in keeping the company afloat. "Mr. Marbury said that Interplay was represented by counsel in the negotiates. Not true. Didn't come out in his deposition," Gersh said. "Mr. Caen represented the company, handled the transaction himself. Did not have counsel go over the document for him. This is seven people on one side, one person on another. This is how the document came out."

Mixed in with all the legaliciousness, Gersh made two other points of particular interest to gamers: Project V13, if it's allowed to be completed, is still two to three years away, and if Interplay loses the court battle it will simply eliminate all Fallout references in the game and release it as a new IP.

As noted earlier, the outcome of this matter has already been settled: The judge denied Bethesda's request for a preliminary injunction against Interplay in December. Nonetheless, the transcripts are an interesting read for the insight they offer into the legal square dance between the two companies. The second part of the transcript ended with the judge ready to hear from witnesses, which means we have even more drama to look forward to in part three. Stay tuned!


i would like to see it as an new ip, fresh ideas, even the thinly disguised ones, are always wanted.

also, and this may just be me, but i don't really think that court transcripts are "an interesting read".

Evil Bethesda!

But your game is so good...

Conflicting interests!

Yay! I'm gald the court ruled against Bethesda in this case....but it's also bad since they'll be trying even harder to get the rights back now...

Bah, there's no Law-And-Order-style courtroom shenanigans with the bailiff and plaintiff screaming at each other! That's the best part of trials. *grumbles*

Hopefully we'll see more drama in Part 3: Revenge of the Sith Annoyed People Who Would Like Their Property Back.

I'm definitely glad to hear that, regardless of the outcome, we'll get to play this game. Interplay is where Fallout started, and Bethesda, while creating a nice little game with the Fallout name, just didn't quite hit it right for me. This will easily be the only MMO i give a shot for a long while.

Evil Bethesda!

But your game is so good...

Conflicting interests!

lol, Yeah...Its like..who do I trust? You are so awesome but you are also so cruel!

Fallout 3 was a decent game. But in my opinion STALKER was a much closer spiritual successor, particularly if you got the Oblivion Lost total overhaul mod.

Sadly the consolification of all new games means that the PC ports need to be heavily modded to be at all playable, and occasionally leads to series killing abortions like Deus Ex 2.

Well, Bethesda DID make a very good game, but I kind of feel they should have launched it as a new IP becaus simply put it didn't get the Fallout "vibe" quite right. The Bethesda of today doesn't have the guts to do the right level of content to make something sick and twisted enough to be called "Fallout". Rather than complying with censors they should basically be thinking "Hmmm, can we actually KILL guys like Michael Atkinson by releasing a game so over the top that it stops his heart, when don't back down and say 'yes masta' when he and his soul mates in other companies try and stop us". Basically Bethesda doesn't have the correct combination of guts, and a willingness to engage in political activism if nessicary to do it.

Interplay who did the original and kept things moving forward has a better chance of at least tryiung to make a "proper" Fallout, but I am not sure if they have the resources to do what would be nessicary to get it released at a profitable level, or even take a hit in exchange for forcing open the market whent he legal dust (and expenses) clear.

Truthfully I'm looking at the upcoming "New Vegas" for the possibility of a true spiritual successor to Fallout. In general while Bethesda showed how it could work in first person (albeit badly in need of more RPG elements, and less twitchyness despite what shooter fans think) and can be thanked for their tech demonstration, I think in the end Fallout needs the right kind of writing.

I guess you can say the Fallout 3 engine was great for the compromise it was, but despite looking pretty and playing well, in the end the writing was sort of like an 80s-esque punk band aping American punk bands while trying to be socially acceptable for their era of the world, and getting confused as to why punk fans elsewhere would look at them and go "WTF" when as far as they were concerned they were doing everything "Right". Granted the Japanese music scene DID get better, but the whole "They're really big in Japan" jibe was a funny offhanded insult for a while.

Err, well, all rambling aside MMORPGs benefit a lot from good writing, and I'm guessing in the end Interplay would do a better job writing than Bethesda from what I've seen so far.

Personally though it would probably benefit everyone if they would just kiss and make up. Maybe the respective CEOS can gay marry each other in California to cement an alliance or something. :P

Bethesda's technology and (currently) deep pockets, with Interplay's design doctrine and Fallout writing. Let Interplay design the game, and set out to offend censors, and then have Bethesda fight them and provide the tech for the development.

Instead of having a bunch of people show up at a con with Vault Boy/Pip Boy puppets, maybe Bethesda could grow a pair and say... have marches against censors with people wearing them. If Michael Atkinson can't leave his office for like 72 hours because of screaming anti-censorship nerds outside his office waving Vault Boy hand puppets I think the protest would for a lot of good for example. That's the kind of thing that has won civil liberties battles in the past. It's just that the gaming industry doesn't have a pair anymore.

I am slightly worried Bethesda will never make Fallout 4 due to this legal battle(I know it's lame I never played the originals but I enjoyed Fallout 3)

Those two articles have been a really interesting read.
Thanks, Mr. Chalk!

And Fallout Tactics was a 'smash hit' in the same way AIDS is a 'short-term virus'.

Interesting stuff, I hope they get this all cleared up soon.

Also, because it wouldn't be a proper legal battle without it:

I'm not the most courtroom-savvy person around so the itty-bitty details largely escape me, but I understand one thing at least: regardless of whether Interplay is, artistically speaking, the best choice to make the MMOG, they simply don't have the sort of funding and workforce that Bethesda has. Even if they have already gone some way into putting a believable (relatively speaking) world together, it'll be a long time coming before Project V13 sees the light of day, and that's assuming they won't go under at some point in the future. I really do think Bethesda would be a better choice in making the MMOG, even if Interplay plays some sort of advisory role or something.

Still, New Vegas would be a blast while I wait!


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