Who exactly owns the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise isn’t exactly clear. There have been some very strange legal battles going on since last year between Gearbox and 3D Realms.
Things are not slowing.
Gearbox filed suit against 3D Realms after they released a teaser of their title Duke Nukem Mass Distruction, claiming that they bought the rights to the IP in 2010. If their side of the story is to be believed then since the sale 3DR has simply chosen to act like the transaction never took place. A trip to their website certainly shows this because Duke’s face is literally everywhere.
In response, and showing no sign of backing down, 3D Realms issued this statement to Polygon:
On March 17, 2014, 3D Realms filed its answer to the complaint by Gearbox Software in Dallas, Texas. 3DR denies all allegations set forth in the complaint. In its answer, 3DR has submitted evidence showing that Gearbox at no point intended to enter into good faith negotiations but instead sought to force former owners, Scott Miller and George Broussard, to improperly surrender what rightfully belonged to 3DR.
It is our position that 3DR retains the right to develop the tentatively titled “Duke Nukem Survivor” game for specific platforms. This game was previously licensed for development to Interceptor Entertainment. Furthermore, it is our position that the Trademark for “Duke Nukem” was never assigned to Gearbox, but remains the sole property of 3DR.
Oddly enough there was a lawsuit filed against Gearbox during the summer of last year seeking unpaid royalties, only to withdraw it and issue a public apology claiming there was a “misunderstanding.”
Having read both the briefs by Gearbox and 3D Realms, it’s clear that no one side is lacking in conviction. It is a dispute that will only be resolved in court while we, somewhat amusingly, watch from the sidelines.