Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd is a court case linked to the Bethesda Softworks LLC v. Interplay Entertainment Corporation court case.
To assist in development of the original Project V13 (or Fallout Online), Interplay Entertainment engaged the services of Bulgraian Developer Masthead Studios to help build the game using the codebase of their existing MMO Earthrise.
This work had developed to the stage where the game was playable in some form. However evidence to this effect was prevented from being admitted to the main case as Interplay did place any witnesses from Masthead on its witness list.
Seeking to prevent further work on the title, Bethesda filed a separate suit against Masthead Studios in the California Central District Court; this sought to cease any work preformed by them on Fallout Online.
The case raised questions as to whether Masthead came under the jurisdiction of the court, wether Masthead was required to respond to the case, issues in presenting the summons to Masthead, and wether any of their work actually infringed Bethesda's copyright.
The Case being raised in a Californian court raised some questions as to whether the case fell under the courts jurisdiction and would not be better filed in Maryland (the home jurisdiction of Bethesda). In response Bethesda asserted that as Masthead was based in Bulgaria but did work with Interplay in California, this was them in effect trading in California.
Issues with Bethesda serving notice on Masthead lead to Bethesda filing a motion for a default judgement. Atanas Atanasov, President of Masthead in the first instance put this on Masthead's belief that Interplay would deal with the legal suit on their behalf, and in latter stages by the documents being served to the wrong person within Masthead, who mistakenly did not relay this document to him.
In his response to Bethesda's claims in infringement, Mr Atanasov attested that Masthead ceased all work on the title in May 2011 (noting that "considerable work" would be required to get it up to beta level), and that none of their work involved any of the Fallout copyrights or Intellectual property - the assets they had created were of the order of generic Californian locations, or generic animal mutations.
The case was ultimately dismissed by mutual agreement following the Bethesda Softworks LLC v. Interplay Entertainment Corporation case being resolved.
As the main case was resolved, both parties agreed to dismiss this case. The following is Transcribed from the order of Dismissal.
- 1. The Parties agree that this Order shall not constitute a concession by Masthead of this Court’s jurisdiction over Masthead, or a concession by Bethesda that this Court does not have jurisdiction over Masthead;
- 2. The Parties agree that this Order shall not constitute an admission of liability by either party;
- 3. Masthead represents that, to its knowledge, it has not infringed on any of Bethesda’s Fallout-related copyrights or other Fallout-related intellectual property that are the subject of this litigation (the “Fallout Intellectual Property”);
- 4. To the extent that it is later determined that Masthead possesses any materials that infringe the Fallout Intellectual Property, Masthead agrees to make no use of such materials, to destroy such materials promptly after discovery and to certify such destruction to Bethesda in writing. Such a determination must first be agreed upon by Bethesda or judicially determined;
- 5. Masthead agrees not to infringe the Fallout Intellectual Property in any MMOG or other work that Masthead develops for Interplay Entertainment Corp. or otherwise by itself or through any third party;
- 6. No provision contained herein is intended to create any greater rights than Bethesda may already have under the United States Copyright Act and/or other relevant United States laws; and
- 7. Each party shall bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs in this litigation.
- Bethesda's complaint
- Response to Court's question on jurisdiction
- Masthead's response to complaint and request for default judgement