Back in November, word leaked out that Harmonix, developer of the Rock Band series of games, was being offered for sale by its parent company Viacom. Viacom made the announcement by declaring Harmonix a "discontinued operation", marking a $299 million loss for the media conglomerate. And since nothing can happen in the modern gaming world that doesn't include a lawsuit of some kind, Gamasutra is reporting that a group of former Harmonix shareholders, including founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy, are suing Viacom. In a claim similar to those made in Infinity Ward's suit against Activision, the group is accusing Viacom of withholding performance-based bonuses for the Rock Band series.
The original agreement made between the developer and Viacom in 2006 stated that Harmonix shareholders were entitled to 3.5 times any gross profits of the franchise, claiming that the deal had "no cap" in place. They further claim that a subsequent deal signed in 2008 offered the same provisions as the original. All told, Rock Band sales have exceeded over $1 billion, and that's just in North America.
Although it's a bit mired in legalese, the lawsuit claims that Viacom maliciously engineered a deal with EA that would keep Harmonix's profits low. The assertion is that Viacom had a chance to reduce EA's distribution costs, but instead opted to make an advertising deal with MTV, which the suit alleges was a way to funnel money back into Viacom's pockets (note: Viacom is the parent company of MTV).
Since we're dealing with the American legal system, chances are it will be quite some time before any progress is made on this story. Stay tuned for Viacom's inevitable response.