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Duke Nukem lawsuit ends with Gearbox retaining ownership

A lawsuit stemming from the unclear ownership status of the Duke Nukem franchise was settled this week, cementing Duke Nukem Forever publisher Gearbox Software as the “full and rightful owner” of the Duke Nukem intellectual property.

Gearbox previously filed a federal lawsuit against Duke Nukem creator 3D Realms and developer Interceptor Entertainment in February, following Interceptor’s announcement of its upcoming game Duke Nukem Mass Destruction. Interceptor had recently purchased 3D Realms, and was under the impression that the company was still the sole possessor of the Duke Nukem franchise and character trademark.

Related: Duke Nukem returns in a 32-game bundle from the revived 3D Realms studio

Gearbox Software had purchased the rights to the Duke Nukem intellectual property as part of its release strategy for Duke Nukem Forever, a game that was infamous for its troubled, decades-spanning development history. After the purchase, Gearbox Software polished up the work-in-progress version of Duke Nukem Forever, delivering a multiplatform retail release in 2011.

After it acquired 3D Realms, developer Interceptor Entertainment announced Duke Nukem Mass Destruction, an action-RPG spinoff featuring a character that had since transferred ownership to Gearbox Software. All parties involved in the ensuing lawsuit have since settled their differences under undisclosed terms, and Mass Destruction now features a new starring character and a new title, Bombshell.

“When Interceptor acquired a license to develop Duke Nukem Mass Destruction (Duke Nukem Survivor) from 3D Realms, we did so in good faith and were not aware of any conflict,” 3D Realms CEO Mike Nielsen stated in regard to the settlement. “We never intended to cause any harm to Gearbox or Duke, which is why we immediately ceased development after Gearbox reached out.”

Nielsen continued: “To secure the future of Duke, 3D Realms has agreed with Gearbox that a single home serves the IP best. And as big Duke fans, we’re excited to see what Gearbox has in store for the “King.” As for our own games, we’re eager to complete development of the Bombshell game and get it in the hands of our fans.”