Fallout studio escapes Bethesda restraining order

Fallout studio escapes Bethesda restraining order

By Rob Crossley

September 23rd 2011 at 5:14PM

MMO in the clear again as four-year dispute rages on

European indie group Masthead has survived another hostile legal assault by US publishing giant Bethesda.

Complaints by Bethesda forced a ruling to be made in a Californian court – some six thousand miles away from Masthead’s Bulgaria base of operations.

Masthead did not fly a representative over, but Californian Judge John Walter nevertheless denied Bethesda its restraining order plea.

Bethesda’s latest stab at courtroom victory stems from a complaint that had arisen since 2007, when the group made a deal with fellow publisher Interplay.

Details of that deal are now a matter of a protracted dispute.

Interplay has hired Masthead to build an MMO based on the Fallout brand, believing it had been granted the licence to do so. Bethesda, which owns the Fallout IP, claims that wider terms of the licensing agreement have been broken.

Interplay recently warned investors that the company is on the brink of collapse unless present financial conditions change.

Bethesda first sued Interplay in 2009, before months later a US District Court judge denied its motion for a preliminary injunction.

Bethesda then put a new angle on its complaint. In its second suit, it said Interplay and Masthead could not use assets, characters or narrative belonging to the Fallout IP.

But Judge Walter now claims Bethesda “has not demonstrated that it will be irreparably prejudiced” if the restraining order is enacted. 

Bethesda has not shown it is without fault in creating the dispute, the judge ruled.