Gearbox Software has reached a settlement with 3D Realms Entertainment and its parent company, Interceptor Entertainment, in a trademark lawsuit over the intellectual rights to the Duke Nukem video game franchise.
Duke Nukem is a machine-gun wielding, alien-killing and bad-mouthed ladies’ man with an affinity for destruction. Several video games in the series have come out over the last two decades, most notably the failed “Duke Nukem Forever”, which took over a decade to develop.
3D Realms reportedly sold the intellectual rights of the Duke Nukem franchise to Gearbox Software in 2010, but later privately recanted and said the deal never took place. When Interceptor Entertainment announced intentions to develop a new game in the series franchise, “Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction”, Gearbox Software sued.
In a response to the lawsuit, 3D Realms claimed it had ceased development on its new game. “Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction” has since been renamed to “Duke Nukem: Bombshell” with a rumored release for this year.
Trademark lawsuits involving video games are actually very common, and some litigation has arguably had a large impact on gaming. In the early 1970’s, Atari came out with the gaming hit Pong. Ralph Baer, the creator of the Magnavox Odyssey gaming console, sued Atari over allegations it had stolen the idea for Pong from one of his games. A settlement was reached without the case ever going to trial.
Since the 1970’s, other gaming-related lawsuits have followed. Universal Studios sued Nintendo for copyright infringement, claiming it had taken the idea for the video game “Donkey Kong” from the movie “King Kong”. Rock musicians The Romantics sued Activision over Guitar Hero, claiming when of the songs used in the game sounded too much like an original version.
Future lawsuits are likely to happen in the gaming industry, and companies can protect their intellectual property with experienced business litigation attorneys.
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