More Guitar Hero lawsuits! Don't make that face, you know you can't get enough of them. This time around it's series creator Harmonix on the legal warpath, who have (briefly) sued current franchise holders Activision over unpaid royalties. Seems the contract signed by Harmonix and Red Octane over the original Guitar Hero contained a clause that said Harmonix would earn one of two royalty payment schemes if they ever left the series. One, a lower figure, would be paid if another dev team took over the series and made fundamental changes to the game mechanics. The other, a higher figure, would be owed if another team took over and released a game that "incorporates, uses, or is derived from Harmonix property". Guitar Hero III is definitely the latter, with minimal changes to the previous games, but Harmonix claim they're only being paid the lower royalty scheme, and are owed around $US 14.5 million worth of Guitar Hero III's profits.
Those hoping this will translate into a catty legal fracas will be deflated to hear, however, that the suit had a shelf-life of about five seconds. No sooner had it been filed than Harmonix owners Viacom withdrew the suit, with even the hint of a long, bitter legal battle enough to convince Activision that taking this to court would not end well. Both sides are expected to instead "discuss" the issue privately, outside of the courtroom. Meaning that while this won't be settled cheaply, it'll at least be settled quietly.
Viacom withdraws 'Guitar' suit [Variety]