Fallout Online dispute rumbles on


The dispute between Bethesda and Interplay over the proposed Fallout MMOG continues, with Bethesda's legal team accused of deliberately delaying communications with Interplay's as a jury trial rapidly approaches.

Duck And Cover reports that Bethesda has filed a motion in limine – which requests a judge to allow or refuse the admission of evidence at trial – asking that the court rule that Interplay has to prove that it is in possession of a licence to the Fallout copyright and trademark, and that it has satisfied requirements laid out in the original contract.

Interplay was required to have commenced development on the MMOG, dubbed Fallout Online, and secured $30 million in financing by April 4, 2009. Bethesda argues that it failed to do so, but its motion seemingly asks the judge to essentially deny Interplay the means to prove it.

Bethesda asks the court to grant an order "precluding Interplay from offering parol evidence to support its defense that [it was] granted a copyright licence"; from "arguing at trial that it had satisfied the [development and finance] requirements"; and from amending previous court statements to include any proof.

Interplay has since fired back with a motion in limine of its own, asking the judge to block Bethesda's attempt to include a new expert witness, Thomas Bidaux, in proceedings with the trial just four weeks away. Interplay's attempts to interview Bidaux in advance of the trial have, its legal team argues, been met with frustration.

In a letter sent to Bethesda's lawyers, Interplay's lawyer Jeffrey Gersh wrote: "I have spoken with [Interplay] concerning the proposed dates for the deposition of your supposed expert in Washington DC and it is not going to be feasible for us to travel for at most a three-hour deposition, especially given the fact that you have refused to propose any alternative dates around the same time or even close.

"It took you two weeks to let me know that none of the dates I gave you worked for your client. It is inconceivable that this simple query could not have been answered in 48 hours. But you delayed again to respond making it impossible for me to do anything.

"This has been going on since July… you have just put up road block after road block, even knowingly trying to force me to travel and take deposition on the Jewish holidays."

The dispute dates back to 2007, when Bethesda acquired the rights to the Fallout series from Interplay for $5.75 million. As part of the deal, Interplay secured trademark rights for a Fallout MMOG.

In April 2009, Bethesda commenced legal action in a bid to cancel the deal and regain the rights to the game. Bethesda's motion for a temporary restraining order against Interplay and developer Masthead was refused in September, and its subsequent appeal also met with failure late last month.