Gearbox Software and 3D Realms are in a legal battle yet again. This time, it’s surrounding Duke Nukem being “free and clear.”
Gearbox Software and 3D Realms have found themselves in a legal battle – again. Gearbox, the studio behind the Borderlands franchise, is accusing the creator of the Duke Nukem franchise of breach of contract.
Gearbox Software has owned the intellectual property of the franchise for over a decade, with their first release of the franchise being Duke Nukem Forever in 2011.
The sale of the Duke Nukem IP in 2010 assured there would be no copyright infringements in the series. Last September, Robert Prince, composer and sound designer for several games including Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, sued Gearbox alleging he owned the copyright for certain music that was included in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour.
Prince’s suit claims that the use of his music in previously published Duke Nukem games was subject to a licensing agreement between himself and 3D Realms, not Gearbox.
In a third-party complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Gearbox states that 3D Realm’s parent company, Apogee Software, failed to deliver the Duke Nukem intellectual property “free and clear.” The suit further states that Apogee Software withheld details of a key agreement that impacts Gearbox’s ability to publish and republish the franchise’s titles. The suit also alleges that 3D Realms has refused to honor an indemnity guarantee that was a part of the deal.
In June 2013, 3D Realms sued Gearbox for unpaid royalties. It was in September of that year that the suit was dropped with founder Scott Miller citing a “misunderstanding” on their part.
In February 2014, Gearbox turned the tables by filing a lawsuit against 3D Realms for attempting to make a Duke Nukem game without Gearbox’s consent.
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Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC 2016. Prince’s suit revolves around those titles. A Nintendo Switch version of the game is set to release on June 23, 2020. Gearbox states it has worked out an agreement with Prince on that game.