According to Gamesindustry.biz, vg247, and Eurogamer, Bethesda's Pete Hines couldn't make it clearer: "We own the rights to the MMO. We own the rights to everything Fallout. The license is ours. Fallout belongs to us."
Earlier this month, Interplay called such claims "absurd."
This is troublesome for Interplay, as the studio has been hard at work on a Fallout MMO of its own, scheduled for a 2012 release. Both companies claim that they have the right to develop an online version of the hit franchise: Interplay because it retained the rights to do so when it sold the franchise to Bethesda, and Bethesda because the company claims Interplay failed to live up to the contract and forfeited its claim.
While the lawyers continue to plow through this legal morass, this statement by Bethesda shows that the studio has no intention of giving up the rights to a Fallout MMO without a fight.
[Update: We've clarified Gamesindustry's sources.]