When Bethesda Softworks picked up the rights to the Fallout brand from Interplay way back in 2004 (!!!), it had everything but MMOs under its control. In the exchange, Interplay kept the rights to create Fallout Online, and whether that MMO could ever come out became the center of a legal battle that is now finally over.
In exchange for the complete rights transfer, ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million for undisclosed reasons. For the moment, Interplay still owns the rights to Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics, but that will change on December 2013. That month will mark the moment when the merchandising rights transfer, too.
The completely separate dispute with Masthead involved Interplay’s claim that Masthead was in “full scale development” of a Fallout MMO that also did not infringe up on Bethesda’s own copyright ownership. The settlement has Masthead agreeing to not use any Bethesda material in current or future games.
“While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP,” said ZeniMax chairman, CEO Robert Altman in today’s release. “Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others' legal claims."
The website for Fallout Online is still up and running, but don’t expect that to be true much longer.