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Duke Nukem franchise doesn’t belong to Gearbox, says creator 3D Realms

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Despite buying the intellectual property as part of its work on finishing up Duke Nukem Forever, the Duke Nukem franchise doesn’t belong to Gearbox Software, says original series creator 3D Realms.

Duke Nukem Forever

At the beginning of February this year, developer Interceptor Entertainment began teasing an announcement about a new Duke Nukem game in the works, Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, which would take the form of “a top-down action role-playing game for PC and PlayStation,” according to leaked materials.

In response, current Duke Nukem franchise holder Gearbox Software first issued a legal cease and desist letter to both 3D Realms and Interceptor to stop work on what the studio deemed an unlawful use of Gearbox property. The cease and desist was followed up by a full lawsuit seeking damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition, copyright infringement and breach of contract.

In early March, however, it was announced that Interceptor Entertainment co-owner SDN Invest had acquired 3D Realms, adding complexity to the matter of who could use the Duke Nukem name in which circumstances – in the lawsuit brought forward by Gearbox, the studio itself admitted that 3D Realms still held ‘certain but limited’ rights to Duke Nukem.

If the Duke Nukem Franchise Doesn’t Belong to Gearbox, Who Owns It?

More recently still, and in response to the Gearbox lawsuit, both 3D Realms and Interceptor have released statements on the matter making it very clear that the pair are of the opinion that Gearbox holds no rights to the Duke Nukem name.

The statement additionally revealed a game “tentatively titled ‘Duke Nukem Survivor’ for specific platforms,” a game 3D Realms claims was “previously licensed for development to Interceptor Entertainment” while again stating that “the Trademark for ‘Duke Nukem’ was never assigned to Gearbox, but remains the sole property of 3DR.”

A portion of Interceptor’s statement reads:

“We were extremely excited for our next reveal, but unfortunately due to the actions of Gearbox Software, Interceptor Entertainment decided to put this reveal on hold in respect of their lawsuit. However, 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment were rightfully developing our game and as you can imagine we were quite shocked when the accusations by Gearbox arose, as we have always acted within our legal rights.

“It’s unfortunate that Gearbox has shown no intention of finding a peaceful solution with us. We will however continue to work towards a solution.”


Who do you believe – Gearbox Software or 3D Realms?

Who is the true owner of the Duke Nukem license and, more importantly, should the world care if a new Duke Nukem game is ever created? These two parties are certainly adamant that the franchise still holds currency.


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