Gearbox Software has levied legal action against 3D Realms because the company has allegedly failed to give it all of the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise (via Digital Trends).
In 2010, 3D Realms sold Duke Nukem to Gearbox, with assurances there were no copyright issues with the series. However, when composer and sound designer Robert “Bobby” Prince stated that he still owned the copyright to the music in the remaster Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, it became clear that there was confusion about who owned what. Weird, isn’t it?
A third-party complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee shows that Gearbox is suing the parent company of 3D Realms for breaching their contract signed in 2009. The developer of the Borderlands series has accused 3D Realms of “failing to deliver the Duke Nukem intellectual property ‘free and clear.’” This means that 3D Realms would have wilfully withheld details of an agreement which affects Gearbox’s ability to publish (and republish) Duke Nukem games. In addition, 3D Realms has not honoured an indemnity guarantee which was a part of the original contract in 2010, according to Gearbox.
“Prince … asserts that the use of Prince’s music in earlier Duke Nukem video games published by 3D Realms was subject to a license agreement between Prince and 3D Realms,” read the lawsuit. “Thus, contrary to the representations and warranties made by 3D Realms in the [asset purchase agreement], Prince alleges that Gearbox does not own the rights to certain music transferred to Gearbox.”
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford spoke to Digital Trends to shed a little light on the situation. “We’re literally in the middle–either Bobby is right and deserves to be paid, in which case 3D Realms is wrong … or 3D Realms is right and Bobby’s wrong,” he explained. “And we don’t know. So, we need to bring a judge in and have a look at things from both sides. Nothing about Duke Nukem is about profit at this point. It’s about goodwill.”
The lawsuit wants a full recovery of any judgment awarded to the composer, including legal fees, and the pre- and “post-judgment interest at the maximum lawful rate from the date of judgment until paid.”
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