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News: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford want to continue the story they started when they created Star Control II — The Ur-Quan Masters. «Happy days and jubilation!» «But wait!» «There is something wrong here... something which makes my sheath retract and my talons ooze.» «Please, Captain, we need your help!»

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Author Topic: Stardock Litigation Discussion  (Read 19831 times)
Krulle
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #75 on: August 02, 2018, 03:47:34 pm »

And it is alas a way US-court system allows the deeper pocket to win always.
Just go one step further, and increase the stakes, until the attorney of the other side does not get paid anymore.

Very darwinian.

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #76 on: August 02, 2018, 04:11:47 pm »

That didn't stop Stardock from asking F&P to license their characters to them multiple times. Granted, that was before the lawsuit.

Brad still makes the offer on social media occasionally.  If they accept it, he basically wins.

Quote
And by the way, is this how Stardock plans to use the alien names as trademarks?

https://www.stardock.com/games/starcontrol/store

Here we have the "Arilou" and "Chenjesu" DLCs for SCO being advertised, alongside one for one of the races original to SCO, the Mowlings. In all three cases there is a trademark sign accompanying the alien names.

I don't know if this DLC is the only place they are using them, or if they have them tied into the game more closely.  Has anyone actually seen them in use in the game (outside of NDA)?

P&F could plausibly ask for an injunction against this DLC.  Since it's free, any bond would be negligible.  However, I think the reason these two races were chosen was so that Brad could tell an artist: "Draw me a LGM", or "Draw me a crystalline alien", and get something Arilou-like or Chenjesu-like, while maintaining some plausible deniability of direct copying from the originals. So P&F would be testing their allegations of copyright infringement against the most defensible targets.

To wit, Brad has admitted that he doesn't dare use the Orz.
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rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #77 on: August 02, 2018, 07:04:43 pm »

From the same thread...

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You will find that the Orz was an alien that we wanted to get a specific license to use. Paul and Fred’s refusal meant no Orz now and presumably, no Orz ever after. But at the same time, we don’t have to let them use the Orz either.

... which contradicts the Stardock PR that they aren't interfering with GOTP.

(For the few people who are still repeating that talking point.)
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PRH
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #78 on: August 02, 2018, 10:56:22 pm »

I don't know if this DLC is the only place they are using them, or if they have them tied into the game more closely.  Has anyone actually seen them in use in the game (outside of NDA)?

Well, if you mean the races themselves, the current Fleet Battles beta has a ship called the Arilou Observer. It's very different from the classic games' Arilou Skiff (it's not a flying saucer, it looks like a group of spheres spread radially). But what I meant is that Stardock now seems to use the alien names as trademarks for online goods (in this case, DLC packs). And the trademark sign is now used to emphasize that the alien names are used as trademarks. I don't know what legal consequences it all might have, since IANAL.

... which contradicts the Stardock PR that they aren't interfering with GOTP.

Well, Brad claims that all F&P need to do is to enter into a licensing agreement with Stardock to gain access to the alien names, and he claims it's easy enough so that no reasonable person would consider it an obstacle. I'm in no position to judge whether that is true or false.

It all seems to come down to one question: whether Stardock's claims to the alien names as trademarks are valid or not.

If they are (whether it's due to the fact that they're tied to the Star Control trademark that Stardock owns, or that they were common law trademarks previously owned by Accolade per the 1988 agreement) then F&P need these names to be licensed to them by Stardock.

If they aren't, and Stardock's claims to the alien names are illegitimate, then F&P just need to prove it in court, and once that's over they need to go back to making GotP.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2018, 11:09:49 pm by PRH » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #79 on: August 02, 2018, 11:30:59 pm »

There's a massive difference between "Stardock is not stopping them from making GOTP" and "if they drop their defense and cede all rights to Stardock, then Stardock will promise will give them permission to make a new game under a different title".
« Last Edit: August 02, 2018, 11:32:45 pm by rosepatel » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #80 on: August 02, 2018, 11:44:44 pm »

IIRC, no one is currently trying to make F&P cede their copyright to SC1 and SC2 to Stardock. I don't find any mention of it either on the Ultronomicon page or in Stardock's amended complaint. The only copyright infringement claim that Stardock's complaint makes is for SC3. As for the trademarks, it's what I just said.

Quote
It all seems to come down to one question: whether Stardock's claims to the alien names as trademarks are valid or not.

If they are (whether it's due to the fact that they're tied to the Star Control trademark that Stardock owns, or that they were common law trademarks previously owned by Accolade per the 1988 agreement) then F&P need these names to be licensed to them by Stardock.

If they aren't, and Stardock's claims to the alien names are illegitimate, then F&P just need to prove it in court, and once that's over they need to go back to making GotP.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2018, 11:47:33 pm by PRH » Logged
rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #81 on: August 03, 2018, 12:45:13 am »

We can parse it down to more detail. Stardock said in their settlement offer that they will drop the lawsuit once P&F assigns their Copyright to Stardock. They've also asked the court to invalidate P&F's Copyright in the SC2 characters, while applying for Trademarks in those characters. The end result is to negate any IP that P&F have, and for Stardock to take as much control over the SC2 IP as possible. The short version: this would prevent P&F from making GOTP.

Stardock tries to address this in their Q+A:

"...one of the proposals was to transfer any and all IP they claimed in exchange for lowering the damages. ... None of this would prevent Paul and Fred from making a new game if that really is their desire. Stardock, in turn, would be happy to license, free of charge, any IP they needed to make their new game."

So let's check Stardock's settlement offer:

"Defendants hereby assign to Stardock, pursuant to the Agreement set forth in Exhibit C hereto, any and all right, title and interest that they have in and to any and all intellectual property they own relative to the Classic Star Control Games".

Including the part that Stardock has never publicly addressed:

"For a period of five (5) years from the Effective Date of this Agreement, Defendants shall refrain from developing and/or publishing any work that is within the same genre of games as the Classic Star Control Games"

And of course, there's Stardock's pleading:

"Invalidate Reiche’s and Ford’s alleged copyrights, including any registrations they have obtained in connection therewith."

It's worth reading that selected quote from the Q+A a few times. Once you spot the contradictions, it's obvious how misleading it is to say they're not stopping P&F from making a new game.

"If you just admit that the thing that you built belongs to me, and pay me $225,000, I would be happy to let you borrow, free of charge, whatever you need."
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 12:56:17 am by rosepatel » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #82 on: August 03, 2018, 01:19:22 am »

But what I meant is that Stardock now seems to use the alien names as trademarks for online goods (in this case, DLC packs). And the trademark sign is now used to emphasize that the alien names are used as trademarks. I don't know what legal consequences it all might have, since IANAL.

This is the first use of Arilou as a trademark* at all. That they have to do it by creating DLC packs is in itself further evidence that the use of Arilou in the games is non-trademark use.

Under other circumstances, this would all be completely fine - Stardock could have the Arilou trademark and stamp it on whatever (non-infringing) computer game product they like, and P&F could use Arilou in their games, and nobody would be stepping on anyone else's rights. But we can be pretty sure what Stardock is actually going to do with it - protect attack their P&F's IP.  This gives P&F plenty of reason to believe they "would be damaged by the registration of a mark"  and file opposition.

*For computer games. Star Control may have some fans in Israel? https://ariloutech.com/

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #83 on: August 03, 2018, 01:55:24 am »

Quote
"Invalidate Reiche’s and Ford’s alleged copyrights, including any registrations they have obtained in connection therewith."

How could I have missed that... I've mentioned it on the Ultronomicon page now.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 02:07:36 am by PRH » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #84 on: August 08, 2018, 11:25:22 pm »

That they have to do it by creating DLC packs is in itself further evidence that the use of Arilou in the games is non-trademark use.

Except that they don't because Fred and Paul's copyrighted content is not protected by the Star Control trademark, it's protected by their own completely separated copyright. Stardock using FP's races only makes it more likely that the court will rule Stardock is infringing on FP's copyright.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 11:27:03 pm by CommanderShepard » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #85 on: August 09, 2018, 01:34:02 am »

Except that they don't because Fred and Paul's copyrighted content is not protected by the Star Control trademark, it's protected by their own completely separated copyright. Stardock using FP's races only makes it more likely that the court will rule Stardock is infringing on FP's copyright.

Brad likes to push the narrative that the Arilou, Orz, etc. are the "Star Control Aliens", and that by virtue of their association with the "Star Control" trademark, Stardock is able or even obligated to use those aliens in its new games.  I think a more accurate way to view it is that once Atari's license to create games using Paul's content expired, they ceased to be "Star Control Aliens" in anything but a historical sense, and became "Paul Reiche's fictional aliens", or perhaps "Ur-Quan Masters Aliens".
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #86 on: August 09, 2018, 06:50:21 pm »

Sorry for being late to the party, but i've spent the last week reading everything i could find about this stuff, and I'm stuck with a few questions:

1. Re: the gotp announcement debacle - When calling gotp the "true sequel" to star control 2 (not simply star control as stardock keep asserting), it seems most likely to me that P&F were referring to supplanting the star control 3 storyline as canon. Their later revisions of the text to now call it the "direct sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters" seems to support this. Stardock are very hung up on this announcement thing, and assert that it was done maliciously, especially the "true sequel" wording.
The onus is on Stardock to support the assertion of maliciousness, right? Common sense tells me that P&F should just cede this point as an honest slipup, but what are the ramifications of that?

2. Stardock asserts that they need/want to register all the original alien names to strengthen their Star Control trademark.
Could it be argued that they are really weakening it?

Leaving aside the fact that it looks legally and (certainly!) ethically questionable, for me, it turns it into "that game with all the P&F alien ripoffs".  It also signals that they don't trust their own ability to create a good story.
Stardock/Brad talks about how reputation and goodwill (or whatever phrasing) is associated with the name (and apparently ONLY the name?), but that seems ass backwards to me. There is reputation and goodwill tied to the writing and characters, mannerism, backstory etc. All of that stuff happens to have a name. Reusing the name only makes the new stuff look cheaper to me.
To quote Bruce Lee: "Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Dont concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
Stardock seems really focused on the finger.
I am but a single data point, of course..

On the legal side, can this be meaningfully compared to domain squatting?
I see that the trademark applications were filed in March. What do the courts typically think about filing for trademarks on things that are subject to ongoing litigation?

3. Does all the PR spin that Stardock produces serve any legal function at all?
The volume of forum postings and arguably slanted FAQs - are they expected to hurt or help their litigation? Is there actually a jury deciding this case in the end, that may be swayed by this stuff?
Or is this just damage control to try to keep their litigation from harming the sales of SC:O?

4. I have noticed that Brad used to go around posting that he was using people's forum posts as "evidence". Is there any merit to this, or is it just a scare tactic? Which party, if any, are we hurting by having these discussions?

Disclaimer: I want both parties to release their games. I'd prefer if Stardock did theirs without cheap UQM knockoffs. Currently I'm having a hard time ethically justifying buying SC:O.. Maybe also pay a multiple of the SC:O sales price to the frungy defense fund to help me sleep at night? I dunno..
« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 07:11:42 pm by Boerta » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #87 on: August 09, 2018, 11:16:59 pm »

Disclaimer: I want both parties to release their games. I'd prefer if Stardock did theirs without cheap UQM knockoffs.

To clarify something. The focus of the game is not on the, "cheap UQM knock-offs".
SCO's story was already set in stone by the time this whole thing came about so what we're getting in-game are more akin to Alternate Universe cameos.
And that's been the story since the beginning so that SCO wouldn't have to step on the toes of the original lore, it's not the same Universe as UQM or Kessari.

The redesigns can be explained away as tangents in the evolutionary path of that particular timeline. It's practically a trope as it is since there are plenty of precedents in sci-fi.

I agree that SCO should stand on its own merits though and from what I've seen and played so far it has felt like Star Control and has been as fun.
Unfortunately I can't say much more than that.

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #88 on: August 10, 2018, 12:03:28 am »

Ok, so they are not the focus of the game. Just a cameo in fact, and a "fake" one at that, but somehow vitally important to have in there.
I'm still not sold on a plausible story that it's anything other than an attempt to block gotp. Or some kind of spiteful attempt at acquiring the p&f copyrights by force.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #89 on: August 10, 2018, 02:01:10 pm »

So, this structurally sounds like me writing a book inspired by the Harry Potter novels, just set in a parallell dimension, where a lot of the same characters make (cameo) appearances. Except Harry Potter doesn't wear glasses for whatever reason.
And I trademark Hagrid, because it's important to this brand I'm building.

Or is that a false equivalence?
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