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Harmonix founders sue Viacom for what could be a boatload of cash

There’s no better time to issue a lawsuit than before the Holidays and that’s exactly what the founders of developer Harmonix have decide to do.  The company most known for creating the Rock Band series is suing its former owner Viacom over not being properly awarded the mass sums of cash that they should’ve received.

The lawsuit, which has been filed by a group of former shareholders which includes Harmonix co-founder Alex Rigopulos are suing Viacom over allegations that the media conglomerate “diverted opportunities” that would result in the Harmonix peeps being paid less than they were promised. You see, according to the lawsuit Harmonix and its shareholders are claiming that Viacom did some tinkering so that they wouldn’t have to pay Harmonix their performance bonuses – some of which would’ve been triple the amount of overall earnings if specific goals were met.

There are some interesting questions abound as to what Viacom did to mess with Harmonix’s contractual bonus payments and exactly how much Viacom owes the company – that’s if they owe them anything at all. Harmonix’s lawsuit states that Viacom screwed them out of their performance earnings by inking a deal with EA (concerning Rock Band) that put more cash in the pocket of Viacom than Harmonix.  So if that’s the case and the tides turn in favor of Harmonix, then the company could get quite a large sum of money as the Rock Band franchise has earned over $1 billion so far in North America.

But with issues like this there's never a clear cut resolution and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some small print in the Harmonix/Viacom contract somewhere which allowed Viacom to do what they did.  I think no one was expecting any megaton announcements to come out of Viacom’s sudden dumping of Harmonix, but it seems like the next few months could be interesting with this lawsuit playing out and Harmonix in the search of a new home.


[via Gamasutra]