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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Bethesda Softworks - Cease and Desist Issued to PnP Fallout

Default Bethesda Softworks - Cease and Desist Issued to PnP Fallout

May 10th, 2007, 06:15
Some of you may know that Interplay licensed Glutton Creeper Games to make a tabletop PnP Fallout game some time ago, which was due for release this June. RPG Codex has noticed GCG has been issued with a cease and desist by Bethsoft. While we obviously don't know the legal position of each entity, it's interesting that Bethsoft would choose to exercise their IP ownership over this. Here's the announcement:
May 8th, 2007: ZeniMax Media/Bethesda has threatened to file an injunction against GCG for damages, should we not cease and deist production of Fallout PnP d20 products. They are stating that Interplay never had the rights to license a Pen and Paper to GCG under their license of Fallout from 2004 before the purchase of the IP, and makes claims against GCG that it may damage the Fallout brand and forecoming Fallout 3 release by linking the two. So for now, we have removed the page, until a resolution is met. If you want to see Fallout PnP d20 releases, please let the people at ZeniMax Media/Bethesda know, but don't send them hate mail or flames.
Our first product was being sent for review this weekend to Interplay, and still will be, as we hope Interplay will get this sorted out with Bethesda.
More information.

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May 10th, 2007, 06:15
Oh goodie another TSR 'They Sue Regularly' type of company. All hail Bethesda for bringing back corporate mentality and I'm looking foreward to many more type of lawsuits to come. Let the good times roll.

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May 10th, 2007, 07:09
If Interplay could not license PnP Fallout, then Bethesda can not either. That means all they can sue GCG for is potentially hurting Fallout 3. But that is always a problem with multifields licenses. I do not think Bethesda could win that case, GCG having officialy worked on their PnP Fallout before Bethesda came into play with Fallout 3.
Only the true owner of Fallout PnP rights could do anything… unless the state decides to go against GCG for copyright violations…
This is all marketing, to draw more attention to Fallout 3 IMHO.
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May 10th, 2007, 09:42
Wow, that's a pretty fascist attitude Bethesda is putting forth. Apparently THEY should be the only company allowed to screw over the Fallout legacy … on the other hand, when mob comes over the horizon with their torches, pitchforks and screaming curses at the top of their lungs, they will only have one target to aim for: Bethesda. In the end Bethesda might be better off having a scapegoat to point towards when they realize that Oblivion with guns is not what the Fallout fans are longing for.

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May 10th, 2007, 10:16
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Wow, that's a pretty fascist attitude Bethesda is putting forth. Apparently THEY should be the only company allowed to screw over the Fallout legacy …
Well they did purchase the rights….hardly facist.

I suggest you wait another 26 days before making the "Oblivion with Guns" comments and there is a slight chance (1%) you could be wrong

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May 10th, 2007, 12:34
Yes, Bethesda did purchase the IP right to Fallout from Interplay, but only last month (april 2007). Interplay did still hold the IP rights to Fallout 3, in 2004, (and before), when they licensed Bethesda to do Fallout 3. This means, imo, that Interplay also could license GCG to do Fallout d20 PnP game. And this means that Bethesda, imo, doesn't have a vey good chance of winning a court trial, since GCG officially have worked on their PnP game - before Bethesda even bought the Fallout license.

And there really isn't any copright violations here, as Interplay hold the copyright to the Fallout stuff, before 2004, and as such could allow anyone, also GCG, the use of the Fallout stuff. If I were Glutton Creeper Games, I would talk to Brian Fargo, and just strike the name Fallout, and replace this with, you guessed it, —- Wasteland. Or make a Wasteland PnP game - instead of a Fallout PnP game.

I don't know why Bethesda & Zenimax media does this right now. The only rational explanation, I can see, is that Falout 3 is to come out in June or July at the same that GCG's PnP Fallout game were set to be released. And that Bethesda & Zenimax media fear losing money —- for some reason.
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May 10th, 2007, 13:18
I hope that they do work things out … but since I agree with much of what aries100 just said I can only assume there is much 'under the hood' stuff we don't know about.

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May 10th, 2007, 13:54
Well after Oblivion got 9+ marks I have no hope that Fallout 3 will be anygood anyway.

Game critics are more interested in polish then the actual games these days.

I think Richard Gariot got it right in his recent interview at Gamespot where he states that games are shallow and graphic driven rather then having gameplay depth.

As for the C&D for these PnP guys well, kind of pathetic really. PnP sales are nothing compared to computer games sales and the demographic just isn't the same. Ofc there are people that do both but they generally can tell the difference between them no?
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May 10th, 2007, 14:17
d20 Fallout? d20!?!?!? Be glad that someone had the good sense to kill that abomination.
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May 10th, 2007, 14:45
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
d20 Fallout? d20!?!?!? Be glad that someone had the good sense to kill that abomination.
I guess, never liked d20 games either. Its just these peoples work thats the point.
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May 10th, 2007, 15:19
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
d20 Fallout? d20!?!?!? Be glad that someone had the good sense to kill that abomination.
Agreed.

I didn't know this was news to you fellows.

Compared to blacklisting Star Trek Gamers and RPGCodex, this is nothing, but even more, what about this for a pretty move?
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May 10th, 2007, 16:59
re. the STG blacklisting, if anyone cares: the closest we got to an explanation from Bethsoft is forum moderator Alexander's point of view, as offered to the Codex. Starts here.

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May 10th, 2007, 17:36
If there is one company to blame here then it is Interplay. As the (former) owner of the Fallout IP, they had to be the ones in the know about any and all 3rd party involvements with their IP and they would have been obliged to report any 3rd party rights to Bethesda prior to signing the agreement with Bethesda. I would bet real money that the contract with Bethesda includes a passage covering this in detail, i.e. "the seller assures the buyer that the IP is free of 3rd party rights" and so on.
Now it's turned out that there is a 3rd party that has/had an agreement with Interplay. It only makes sense for Bethesda to sue in a "better safe than sorry" manner and to let Interplay sort it out. If I were working at Bethesda I'd be very pissed off about the unprofessional behavior of Interplay in this context.

But way to whip out the pitchforks and cry for Bethesda's blood without turning on your brains once again, folks… /golfclap .
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May 10th, 2007, 18:03
Well you seem to always come out with the pitchfork to defend Bethesda so expect your opposite. But yeah it could well be Interplay's fault but so what? Do you really think that some PnP game is going to have any real effect on the release of the Fallout 3 computer game? Besides why didn't Bethesda just make up their own IP for this genre instead of buying one that will probally cause them more grief? I'm no fanboy or hater but I can clearly see whats going to happen here.
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May 10th, 2007, 18:19
Originally Posted by woges View Post
Well you seem to always come out with the pitchfork to defend Bethesda
Not always. Only when it's warranted .

…so expect your opposite. But yeah it could well be Interplay's fault but so what? Do you really think that some PnP game is going to have any real effect on the release of the Fallout 3 computer game?
Yes, I do. Do you remember the recent legal battle over the "iPhone" IP? There was Cisco and Apple who both had an interest in it. Cisco had registered the name years ago but had never made any use of it. By not making use of it, they forfeited their rights to use the IP and Apple was allowed to use the iPhone label for their product. That's why it makes sense for Bethesda to sue now rather than later in order to protect their IP on a whole (that's why I said "sue in a better safe than sorry manner"). If they would not sue now, it might be interpreted as them having no interest to fully protect their IP. You know the strange US legal system? You don't want to take any chances. You just sue to stake your claim and then see where it goes from there. This will most likely never end up in court anyway. I bet they'll find a settlement agreement of some sort.

Besides why didn't Bethesda just make up their own IP for this genre instead of buying one that will probally cause them more grief? I'm no fanboy or hater but I can clearly see whats going to happen here.
Why would it cause them grief and what type of grief? Do you mean the insults from RPGCodex and NMA? Oh. I'm sure that Bethesda are shaking in their boots in awe of the collective intellectual power that is standing against them .
Seriously though, if you mean the lawsuit… how the hell were they supposed to know that a 3rd party had/has a stake in the Fallout IP? Interplay must have assured them that this was not the case. Bethesda acquired the whole IP in good faith. They will win this lawsuit.
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May 10th, 2007, 18:25
Its pretty heavy handed and unless there are clauses in the original contract with Interplay then Beth doesn't have a leg to stand on. Its surprising that Beth would risk the potential backlash to their image should this get out and it did.

GCG clearly doesn't have the money to fight Beth and as frivolous as this is its not likely in this day and age they could find a judge just to dismiss it outright. Judges and Lawyers don't get paid if big companies don't sue each other. So GCG has no choice but to capitulate.

That said I don't exactly blame Oblivion for wanting to protect their brand. Its completely wrong but its understandable. They did pay a lot of money for Fallout and they've invested a few years of work. It may indicate some serious changes from the first two games. The PnP GCG is making may have too different a feeling of the new game.

I can only hope that this is simply a negotiating matter. GCG seems to hope so. It appears they are trying to to strike a new deal with Bethsoft on this. Beth would be smart to cross market Fallout this way in a merchandising deal and then they could collect more royalties and gain more cross market exposure. Since GCG already has the know how and willingness to do it I think it would be a wise move to work out a deal with them.
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May 10th, 2007, 18:55
This is another example of what happens when lawyers get their own seat at the table. It's ugly hardball business and the sort of stuff Shakespeare was referring to in Henry VI with the line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

These companies make games, for crying out loud. They need to make money, I know, I know. But can't they do it with warm blood in their veins? Lawyers, accountants and marketing analysts have become just too influential in what should be a friendly business environment.
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May 10th, 2007, 18:56
BTW, it's not like the agreement between Interplay and Bethesda is a big secret. It can be found here. Of particular interest (confirming that Interplay is to blame as they did not reveal any 3rd party involvements in the IP as ordered to by this agreement)…
3.0 OWNERSHIP.

3.1 SOLE OWNER. Interplay acknowledges and agrees that, as between the parties, Bethesda is the sole and exclusive owner of the Licensed Marks. Bethesda may, in its sole discretion, maintain or discontinue the maintenance of any applications and registrations for the Marks or seek registration for any Licensed Mark at any time.

3.2 NO ASSIGNMENT. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be construed as an assignment to Interplay of any right, title, or interest in or to the Licensed Marks. Interplay recognizes and acknowledges that the Licensed Marks and all rights therein and goodwill pertaining thereto solely and exclusively belong to Bethesda and that all uses of the Licensed Marks by Interplay shall inure to the benefit of Bethesda. Interplay shall not directly or indirectly attack or impair the title of Bethesda to the Licensed Marks, the validity of this Agreement, or any of Bethesda's registrations or applications relating to any Licensed Mark in any jurisdiction. Interplay agrees it shall not file any state, federal, or foreign applications to register any of the Licensed Marks, in whole or in part, or any name or mark confusingly similar thereto in any jurisdiction.

3.3 FURTHER ASSISTANCE. Interplay shall, upon request of Bethesda, execute any documents that may be deemed necessary or desirable by Bethesda to use the Licensed Marks in conformity with any nation's laws, including whatever documents that may be necessary to record Interplay as a user or licensee of the Licensed Marks anywhere in the world.
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May 10th, 2007, 18:59
I don't really care either way. I'm just tired of firms threathening other firms with lawsuits instead of trying to talk to say GCG about making a PnP game in co-operation with Bethesda. And I doubt that the Pnp will sell that well - may around 2000 copies and such.

As for Alexander's comment on the linked Codex thread, well, I think I've said on the Codex what I'm going to say now: If you're making a game, you need to take
(any) criticisms in stiff arms, since not everyone is going to be happy with your game. It looks like Alexander doesn't seem to think that there could possibly be anything wrong with the game. As for the swearing etc. Alexander needs to realize that it is an European show, being made in Scotland, and the Scots can be a little, well, outspoken, when they get mad. (just like the rest of us).

The point is that apparently most bethsoft devs. don't do well with criticism. And if the game is a bummer, then they should realize that instead of defending the choices they made. And it isn't just the Argus Array etc. that thinks that Legacy is a very bad game. A Danish PC Magazine gave it a score of 5.5…

As for the d20 PnP Fallout game from GCG, I thought it was a little odd that they would make game with the D&D rules instead of the GURPS (or special) rules, being used in the Fallout crpg games.
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May 10th, 2007, 19:12
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
The point is that apparently most bethsoft devs. don't do well with criticism. And if the game is a bummer, then they should realize that instead of defending the choices they made. And it isn't just the Argus Array etc. that thinks that Legacy is a very bad game. A Danish PC Magazine gave it a score of 5.5…
Bethesda did not develop Legacy.
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