The long-running legal dispute over a planned Fallout MMO has taken a fresh turn this week, with the mooted game's developer Interplay dubbing Bethesda's latest legal claim against it "absurd".

Bethesda's most recent tactic in attempting to prevent the release of Interplay's MMO was to claim that it had only ever licensed out a single asset: the Fallout trademark in association with an MMO.

The publisher insisted no other license was included in the deal, meaning that Interplay was forbidden from featuring any characters or environments from the Fallout universe in its MMO.

According to court filings dug up by Gamasutra, Interplay has offered the following response:

"Bethesda's interpretation requires Interplay to develop and release an MMOG under the Fallout name, but unrelated to the Fallout brand.

"First, this is not only absurd, but is specifically prohibited [emphasis Interplay's] by the agreement because Interplay was only granted a 'license and right to use the Licensed Marks on and in connection with its FALLOUT-branded MMOG ... and for no other purpose.

"It was not the parties' intent that Interplay create, for example, an online baseball game or poker game called 'Fallout.'"

This is the latest in a long line of stalling tactics from Bethesda. In 2008 it claimed a lack of progress with the MMO's development violated its agreement with Interplay.

After that failed, last September Bethesda claimed Interplay was selling older Fallout games without permission and requested an injunction against the sales and work on the MMO. That claim didn't get past the judge either.

Bethesda bought the rights to the Fallout franchise from original publisher Interplay in 2004, licensing the online rights back to the struggling outfit.

Interplay first mentioned its Fallout MMO soon after that deal. Last October, president Eric Caen announced that it planned to have the finished game ready for 2012.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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