Court rules that Halo studio was wrong to strip shares from Marty O'Donnell

Bungie ordered to restore fired composer’s stock

A US court is forcing Bungie to return composer Marty O’Donnell’s founders’ stock in the studio.

O’Donnell, who composed the music for the Halo series and next month’s blockbuster release Destiny, left Bungie back in April on less than favourable terms – in fact, he sued his former employers shortly after.

During the departure, Bungie stripped the music and audio expert of his founders’ shares in the studio, which have become highly valuable following the success of the Halo series and the hype building up to Destiny.

Now Judge Sharon Armstrong at Seattle-based JAMS, Inc, has granted O’Donnell’s request to restore these shares via a preliminary injunction, according to VentureBeat. Bungie’s lawyers have objected that the composer would be a "bothersome presence at board meetings and in the company" if his shares were returned. 

Bungie can still appeal this, and a final order has yet to be issued.

Judge Armstrong, as arbitrator heard arguments for both sides in July and ruled that O’Donnell showed ‘substantial likelihood’ of proving that he was one of the seven Bungie founders, and that the studio game him 1.27m shares in October 2007. 

Evidence also showed that O’Donnell signed a contract extending his employment through 2020 back in December 2010. It was agreed he would relinquish any unvested shares if he left voluntarily. O’Donnell’s complaint insists his employment was terminated without cause back in April.

O’Donnell has composed music for every application of Destiny, which Activision and Bungie plan to establish as a ten-year franchise.

The composer has also sued Bungie for unpaid wages, overtime and other compensation, for which he has been awarded $95,000 by the court.

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