Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Bad News for Bethesda (at least for now) - A One-Two Punch

The latter half of October has not been a good month for Bethesda or its parent company ZeniMax. They've lost -- at least for the moment -- not one, but two battles in the courts. Sure everyone knows about the story of Mojang and the scrolls, but what about the other suit? Well, read on and find out.

I've already talked about the Mojang vs. Bethesda suit -- let's face it who the hell hasn't? -- but it's been a while since I've commented on the story and there have, of course, been developments. Bethesda is probably less than pleased, but recently the courts ruled in favour of Mojang in the interim injunction battle. Now, this doesn't mean that Bethesda has lost the suit by any stretch, but what it does mean is that until the case goes to court Mojang can still use the word scrolls in the title (well, you know, as the title) for his upcoming release. ZeniMax can appeal to have that right revoked, but for now it seems that they might be just better off accepting the ruling until the actual court proceedings get underway. It's not a complete victory for Mojang of course, but it is a bolstering point and a potentially positive sign.

I already mentioned in my previous article discussing this about how there's a lot more gray area for this whole thing than a lot of people are making out to be, and that Bethesda isn't completely in the wrong for wanting to protect their brands, even if the lengths they go to seem a tad on the ridiculous side. That aside though with all the commotion going on over this high profile case, it seems that another one involving Bethesda and another famous license has gone under the radar.

What exactly am I talking about? Well, just last week word came down that Bethesda had been denied a preliminary injunction against Interplay, which would have kept the latter company from using the details of the Fallout franchise until the case was settled in court. This is because interplay currently has the rights to produce a Fallout MMO but development has been mired in a legal swampland for months. With this decision though, Interplay can integrate the Fallout mythos into their game, at least for now, whether or not Bethesda likes it.

Why is this important? Well, because Bethesda is worried that Interplay will not have the funds necessary to create a Fallout MMO that would be of high enough calibre not to do potential harm to the franchise. It's not worth going over the entire thing with a fine toothed comb, but the long and short of the story seems to be that Bethesda claims that Interplay did not make them aware that the MMO they were working on was Fallout based, and that had they known they would have never green lighted the project to begin with. Of course even if the courts eventually rule totally in Interplay's favour, Bethesda still (at least for now) seemingly has the final say as to whether the game can actually launch, and if the end result is as poor as the company seems to suspect it will be then they will have no qualms about denying the game launch access and more than likely forcing yet another court battle in the process.

Again, in cases like these it gets hard to tell the good from the bad, if those are even the appropriate qualifiers to use. Both sides have valid points, and you'd be justified if you thought the entire thing just sort of reeked of stupidity. One thing certainly seems clear though: Bethesda's days in court are far from over.

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