Digital Legal

Viacom sues former Rock Band shareholders

By | Published on Tuesday 20 September 2011


MTV owner Viacom is suing the founders and initial shareholders of ‘Rock Band’ maker Harmonix regards payments made as part of the media giant’s 2006 acquisition of the games developer. As previously reported, late last year Viacom announced it had sold Harmonix, reportedly for less than a dollar, after the bottom fell out of the pretend-to-play-music games market. Viacom’s MTV Games division, which published the ‘Rock Band’ series, was subsequently shut down too.

The founders and initial shareholders of Harmonix were due a series of so called earn-out payments from the 2006 takeover deal, which rewarded them in addition to the monies they received from the actual sale, based on their continued commitment to the business and its financial performance.

The specifics of the dispute are a little confusing, but basically the original Harmonix shareholders believe they were underpaid by Viacom based on the performance of the business in 2007 and 2008, while the media firm reckons the shareholders were, in fact, overpaid due to miscalculations. The shareholders previously sued for £13 million, and now Viacom is suing for £131 million.

Talks have seemingly been ongoing in this dispute for much of the year, but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Viacom has now filed legal papers with the Delaware Federal Court.