The Ur-Quan Masters Discussion Forum

The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release => General UQM Discussion => Topic started by: Zelnik on November 03, 2017, 04:08:44 am



Title: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on November 03, 2017, 04:08:44 am
Okay, my take is pretty negative but I really want to frame this as best I can.


I have been playing Stardock games since Galciv 2. That is to say, while I was waiting for Sword of the Stars , I played Galciv 2. Besides it being a desperate rip-off of Civilization 2 without water to stop your scouts.  The artistic style ranged from really nicely made to looking like something out of the muppet show. It was a weird combo of cartoon and utility and it just didn't work. The combat was just DREADFUL.  Part of the problem with Stardock is that ALL of their games looked just like this. They never innovate and they never try something new.

Them taking up the Star Control franchise shows they have learned nothing. The art style isn't reminiscent of prior games, it's just another Galciv game. Even the space map looks like Gal Civ's galaxy map!

The worst part are the aliens. Everything looks like they took the Disturbing-cute look of the Orz and used it on EVERY ALIEN RACE.  There is no pulp-60's sci fi to be found, it's all deranged muppets.

Now, amusingly enough, the lead of the new project is vocal on his own message board  (before he starts banning people for not praising his creative talent).

He tried to explain the lack of time honored characters and themes (beyond the legal ownership still being in Paul and Fred's hands) to make the argument that "Humans exploring space is what makes a star control game."
By that argument, Sonic the Hedgehog is Super Mario Bros because both involve jumping on enemies to beat them. 

Star Control (especially Star Control 2) was never about just "exploring space".  In fact, I would argue that exploration was one of the LEAST defining concepts of the game. The 60's sci-fi apocalyptic adventure, the balance between light hearted and truly brain meltingly disturbing, the rich characters and the omnipresent threat of something truly horrible on the horizon. You didn't explore space because you wanted to... you explored space because you HAD to.

I usually never hope for the failure of a company, but Star Control is a twisted mutated zombie of what it formerly was. It's sad. I hope I am wrong, but Stardock is as predictable a company as Paradox is as a developer.


thoughts?



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on November 03, 2017, 08:11:44 am
Quote
  In fact, I would argue that exploration was one of the LEAST defining concepts of the game.

We'll agree to disagree there.

Exploring was my sole drive when I was still playing Star Control 2. Now it's my sole drive when fudging with its source code.

Exploring star systems to find that one planet full of life forms or a treasure world and getting that excited message from the Commander when I brought home a veritable mother-lode.
It was never out of necessity as I would start a new game to explore even more if I came near the time limit.

Now it's finding new ways to make the game more interesting, testing my limits on what I can or can't do with the code.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on November 03, 2017, 01:24:56 pm
Exploring was my sole drive when I was still playing Star Control 2. Now it's my sole drive when fudging with its source code.

Sure, but I doubt you would find exploration so fun, unless you found lots of interesting aliens (and other stuff).  What I liked about SC2 compared to SC3, was that it actually took a lot of time to go from one solar system to another solar system far away. This made the SC2 universe seem much bigger. Sure, you can jump to other places when you get the portal spawner, but I had to play for a long time before I found the Arilou home world. Also, since this was before Internet, I couldn't just google "Where is the Vux Beast?". I remember spending lots of time, before I eventually found that beast.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on November 03, 2017, 03:01:21 pm
I liked the feeling of travelling too.

I also liked the ressource gathering element of the game.
I always wanted to take the time and mine ALL ressources sometime.
Never really did it, but my OCD always made me far too much for far longer than necessary.

I like the mix SC2 has, and I fear if you take something out of the mix, you'll loose more than it seems at first. Just like I missed the mining in SC3.
I also missed the round-based turns of SC1 in SC2....
But then, there were other parts in SC3 I liked. Like the Ortog and the XChagger. Partly even the Lk. Both races' background stories. (The Vyro-Ingo/Vux I hated as storyline. And the Doog I found unbelieveable. Too dumb to become star-faring.)


But Star Control games have been so different from each other so far, that the only thing I require is a general common timeline and common events. Which Star-Control Origins will likely not have.
It may still make a good game, htough. So I'll be waiting for a real release befroe I diss their game. (Or say that I likes it)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on November 05, 2017, 05:40:27 pm
Creativity isn't something tthat can be learned, it is in you from childhood onwards, and although it changes a little during your lifetime and also due to cultural changes, it remains roughly the same throughout your entire life.
That's why you see echoes of the past in music, art and games. And it also causes a feeling of nostalgia every time you see a new product by the same artist.
Because creativity is something that resonates within you, it will resonate within others as well. People might feel that  they have been 'touched in the heart' by a certain song, game, movie, series etc.
But because this is the case, people also get really offended when the thing that touches you in the heart is changed in such a way that it does not resonate as well anymore.
They see it as a criticism on themselves as a person.

When a franchise gets bought, music bands change their composition or their work gets covered by others, or a game gets developed by someone else there are bound to be people who are offended.
The saddest I heard thusfar was a favorite singer of me that got death threats just because she left a certain band and wanted to pursue a different path in music.

Anyway, that's why stardock created the founders program. So that you can influence the direction of the game. Apparently you didn't join it. Maybe because it is too expensive or for some other reason, but doing so shows their good intentions in making this a quality game, or atleast a game that is as good as it can be. To me, your topic seems like you didn't vote but complain about trump anyway ;).

I did join the founders program and although I didn't always feel that they did something with our feedback (but really often they did listen to feedback) I realize that creative processes should also be left alone enough to make something Stardock itself is interested in making.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on November 08, 2017, 02:05:48 am
Generally speaking, the goal was to make the look "cute" in order to create that same disonnance we felt during Star Control II.  That is, it's so cute but the subject matter is so horrifying.

The Star Control: Origins story isn't a happy, go lucky place.  There are beings who see us humans as a serious threat and want us exterminated.

From their perspective, humanity is very dangerous.  In the blink of a cosmic eye we have gone from hanging out in the trees to interstellar travel.

Part of the goal of the story is to make the case that yea, the "bad" guys probably have a pretty sensible reason for wanting to exterminate us.  Not because of ideology but maybe we really are pretty dangerous.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on November 08, 2017, 03:41:19 am
Generally speaking, the goal was to make the look "cute" in order to create that same disonnance we felt during Star Control II.  That is, it's so cute but the subject matter is so horrifying.

The Star Control: Origins story isn't a happy, go lucky place.  There are beings who see us humans as a serious threat and want us exterminated.

From their perspective, humanity is very dangerous.  In the blink of a cosmic eye we have gone from hanging out in the trees to interstellar travel.

Part of the goal of the story is to make the case that yea, the "bad" guys probably have a pretty sensible reason for wanting to exterminate us.  Not because of ideology but maybe we really are pretty dangerous.

Firstly, I admire your willingness to come to a hostile space to protect your game. You have banned me in two places because I called you for what you were.

A scam artist and a liar.

You in fact, blocked me when you made the statement "Buy star control 1 2 and 3, fred and paul will get royalties" and I said, openly with a link, that they released the game for FREE.  Sucks when the truth cuts into your profits. You can't ban me here.  If it wasn't you, it was someone from your team with the same exact slimy excuse.

The fact that you are even defending the art style really shows you just don't understand what is going on here. You don't understand why the aliens in Star Control looked the way they did, or the art style, or why they were so loved. The argument I saw in your forums said "look at the orz! they are so cute, but so horrible!"...Are they? Firstly, I never viewed the Orz and cute. I viewed them as incredibly alien, even with the voices given to them in the 3DO release. They were rolling around in the Uncanny Valley of something who had no idea how to make something appealing to another alien race with no research. Also...Fred and Paul never officially explained the Orz, so calling them "horrible" or "Terrifying" is a misnomer. 

It's so strange of you, to focus on the orz, but forget the important species of the game.  The Khor-Ah were SIX EYED DOOM CATERPILLARS THAT HUNG OVER THE DEAD SKELETONS OF EXTINCT SPECIES EACH CAPTAIN PERSONALLY KILLED.  Where is your cute here?  The Ilwrath were -literally- psychotic, sociopathic, evil worshipping spiders without a lick of 'aw it's cute!"  No word on the Chenjesu, towering cybernetic crystals that practically scream 1960's Sci-fi magazine cover art? The bombshell space babes of the Syreen? You never really played this game, did you?

Amusingly enough, the argument was made that "humans exploring space" is star control.  I want you to know that literally every other space exploration game called and demanded you stopped plagiarizing them.

Given how this game looks from it's demos and shoots, you scraped assets together from the floor of your prior Galciv games and smashed them together with the name of a game that holds a special place in Video Gaming history.

Frogboy, I will say it here, loudly and proudly, where you CANNOT ban me for speaking ill of this project, and criticizing your bad behavior:

Your game is not Star Control. You will never change what Star Control means to its fans. You have insulted the fans and they will not support you until you stop. Your company is acting like a warped mixture of EA games and Michael Bay when it gets it's hands on an IP.
 We do not appreciate what you are doing to something we love.



Now, I get it. It's your job to shill your game. You want it to succeed. You want to make money and that's all well and good. I really hope your game succeeds better than your previous endeavors, which on the whole range from "Par" to "Sub-par in quality. I know you will defend your game voraciously because it's your JOB to do so.

But if you come here, you don't have your magic ban button. We can call you out for what you are, which is a salesman for your game who likely never played the original beyond super-melee. We can call your game for what it is, a desperate attempt to cash in on nostalgia while lacking everything that made Star Control....Star Control.   

We can't change the culture of evil space spiders because of a convoluted prank of mischevious space blobbies.

We can't fall in love with a beautiful blue skinned psychic bombshell in space.

We can't trade with the truly hilarious and entertaining Melnorme...while shudder at the nature of the Keel-Verezy.

We can't look in disgust at the true nature of the Druuge.

We cannot see the true maddening horror of how far the Ur-Quan fell from grace.

What we CAN see, are muppets that belong in a children's TV show who are super scared of humans because humans are dangerous and stuff (not like any of them aren't dangerous but somehow we totally are).

Your plot premise is so depressingly contrived and predictable too. It makes you sound like a "HUMANITY F*CK YEA!" type with a guilty conscience.  "Humanity is advancing so fast and so well the aliens just gotta  stop em" is such a stupid plot point that just makes no sense in any sort of narrative.  There is no depth, there is only ONE solution (which is we fulfill their terrible prophecy, advance fast enough and prevent our extinction) and humans go on to rule the galaxy as number 1. Compared to TUQM, where humanity are, at best, bit players in the war, with ships that are sub-par at best and only shine because they had ONE shot, with ONE ship. Any other race could have done it, we just got it at the luck of the draw.


You can do better than this. You know it and I know it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on November 08, 2017, 04:15:35 am
Dude. You need to chill out.

Stop being hostile and disrespectful and learn to speak your opinions without attacking people.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on November 08, 2017, 09:53:05 am
Zelnik, I will say it here as well :)

Zelnik, you don'tt represent me or the opinion of the star control community, of which I have been a part since +/- 1999. Your comment is childish and one of the reasons not that few companies bother anymore to re-create games of the past.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on November 08, 2017, 12:19:15 pm
I also do not support Zelnik's view.

I am happy that someone takes a shot at creating a Star Control game, just like I was happy for SC3.
I will wait and see how Origins turns out before dismissing it as a "non-game".

SC1 to SC2 included so many changes, that I think in other times they would not have been grouped as a series.
SC3 remained within the timeline and stories provided, so I was happy for that.
I did like SC3 aspects, and I did dislike other aspects. ("ICOM online")

I will see how Origins will fit.
Of course, story-wise I am happy that FF and PR3 will take a shot at continueing the SC2 story.
But it may well be that I will decide that "Ghosts of the Precursors" is so weak, that I will disregard it when talking about my favourite PC-game.
I will wait and see.


And modern business simply means using names you have available.
Stardock now legally owns Star Control. Good for them.
Star Control is a simple and short name, and very suitable for many space-related games.
Heck, all Civ-in-space games could use that name.

Story-wise, SC1 was about the fleet management of the Alliance, of which the UN-organisation "Star Control" was the part of Humanity.
In SC2, this "Star Control" organisation was non-existent, as the Ur-Quan forbade any form of space-ships for Humanity. Yet, the game was still called "Star Control".


What I need from "Star Control" named games, is either the storyline and preferably most of the races. And Frungy, the sport of kings.
Or the combination of starting sub-par with others, collecting ressources to improve my ship, weapons, technology, and ultimately being able to solve the quest(s) posed.

Yes, indeed. I would not mind playing a game fully outside of the currect story of Star Control, but being playstyle wise close enough to be the same category of games.
Although I am unhappy that things will change (my personal resistance that good memories of the past must remain unchanged).
I fear, that SC2 so perfectly combined the many aspects and open-ended stories that this is not recreatable within the same universe. The balance of solved mysteries with unsolved mysteries is hard to hit.

(actually, SC3 did a pretty good job at hitting the SC2-feel, while introducing fitting new races (computers having become intelligent and misinterpreting their tasks; intelligent bacteria living inside other organism), solving a few mysteries, leaving some open (those they did not touch remained open). What I really lacked was a tangible opponent (really, the Eternal Ones were not), and new unsolved mysteries which were only hinted at. And SC3 tried to explain too much (like they tried to make the Arilou explain themselves). - All in all I found SC3 enjoyable, despite some sub-optimal elements, and the game becoming unplayable when done in the wrong order)



Finally, I don't like your tone, Zelnik. It comes over as extremely aggressive.
This has not been called for, and is not helpful in your argumentation.
And what you've been screaming around actually made me slightly more curious about the upcoming Origins. Because now I want to play it to see how your rant fits with the game, and to make my own personal opinion.
(SC2 is a "Humanity-fuck yeah!" game too. And our speed of development may indeed be a real concern for others. Especially when you look at how we achieve it (through lack of respect for nun-Human requirements (e.g. tipping the current equilibrium of Earth's nature to be very unfavourable for many species))


Final question: a game where you are a person working in the diplomatic areas for the UN, and in which the world is as it is now (war in Syria, increasing instability in the middle-East), and you have to guide the decision progress when a crisis happens. In this case a short nuclear war of several nations versus Israel and among each other.
Goal: unite the big military nations to work together, joing their armies and pacify the region; ultimately resulting in removing all nuclear weapons from the hands of "Nations" and storing them in "peace vaults" sueprvised by the UN; and forming a new UN-agency tasked with supervising the militaries, peace, and space.
This game would fit the "Star Control" universe perfectly. But it would likely not feel like a "Star Control" game, because you are not exploring space. you are exploring diplomacy, talking to other delegations from different Nations, ... But all on Earth. Likely all inside one big building.
I fear that Star Control 2 is so good, because it is a one-shot in that universe (really, story wise Star Control 1 adds nothing to the experience, since it lacks details. It is just a series of battles. All SC1 tells you is, that there was a war, which is already explained in SC2 anyway, during the first few sentences of Cmdr. Hayes).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on November 08, 2017, 05:30:41 pm
Dude. You need to chill out.

Stop being hostile and disrespectful and learn to speak your opinions without attacking people.

You and my other critics are right, I am very hostile and I am rather shameless with my attacks. Normally I would be far more level and polite...if everything I said Frogboy and their devs wasn't 100% true

Sometimes yes you can be level and calm about it...but when you are level and calm where Frogboy has control, he bans you. He doesn't stand for even level or honest criticism for what they are doing and silences people.

So I am done with being 'nice'.  I am not going to be silenced by him. Sometimes you have to make noise before people get the idea that what they are doing is wrong.   Please be my guest and disagree, but "calm down" is not something I will do to this individual.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on November 08, 2017, 05:50:43 pm
So I am done with being 'nice'.  I am not going to be silenced by him. Sometimes you have to make noise before people get the idea that what they are doing is wrong.   Please be my guest and disagree, but "calm down" is not something I will do to this individual.

I disagree. I think people are much more open to hear what you are saying when you are nice. And since I often feel a great need to tell people how stupid they are, I am usually trying very hard to be less hostile and more diplomatic, since I know it is a much more efficient form of communication. People tend to shut their ears when you are hostile, and they just delve deeper into their confirmation biases.

I strongly recommend this course about intellectual humility: https://www.coursera.org/learn/intellectual-humility-science/ (https://www.coursera.org/learn/intellectual-humility-science/)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on November 08, 2017, 06:42:10 pm
Quote
You in fact blocked me when you made the statement "Buy star control 1 2 and 3, fred and paul will get royalties" and I said, openly with a link, that they released the game for FREE.  Sucks when the truth cuts into your profits. You can't ban me here.  If it wasn't you, it was someone from your team with the same exact slimy excuse.

If your posting style on Stardock's forums is anything like here, you probably weren't banned for saying that UQM is available free. Much more likely you were banned for extreme hostility.

Anyway, you've misunderstood this. They released the 3DO version's source to the public, and it has been ported, modified, and improved from there by the UQM dev team. The one on Steam and GOG is the unmodified DOS version, which can still be legally sold and Fred and Paul still get royalties. Stardock is not doing anything wrong here, even if there is not much reason to play the original version of SC2 now. Plus it also includes SC1, which is not open-source.

In fact, whatever reservations we have about Origins (I'm a founder and have some), Stardock has actually been quite respectful to Fred and Paul. They have communicated with them regularly and took a generous interpretation toward the legal ambiguities about the rights, for example. Not messing with the SC2 universe and keeping it in FF/PR's hands was the right decision. If Stardock had done things differently we might not be getting Ghosts of the Precursors. And since we are getting Ghosts, I don't see the point in getting so upset about Stardock.


As for the rest...well, to make a long story short I disagree with your portrait of the SC2 universe as an overwhelmingly dark and horrible place. It has elements of that to be sure, but having recently played it again there are also a lot of parts that are outright silly - I would even venture to say muppet-ish. It's part of the game's charm. The Zoq-Fot-Pik are a very lighthearted race for the most part (any serious moments with them are like 10% of the time).

And I think "cute and horrifying" makes a good description of the Orz. They look pretty cartoony to me, and even if their mystery isn't fully resolved they're obviously disturbing and dangerous (whether they're outright evil is still an open question though). Star Control's tone is a mix of serious and heavy stuff like the Ur-quan, dark satirical humor like the Thraddash and even Ilwrath, and wacky silliness like the Spathi and ZFP. Overall it both has a lot of unsettling stuff and takes itself less seriously than the average sci-fi universe.

I don't think Stardock can duplicate SC2's style, but maybe they can make a good game inspired by it. SC3 came close to doing this in some ways, and yet fell so short in others. I am not 100% on board with Stardock's vision but still cautiously hopeful.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on November 08, 2017, 06:47:35 pm
Zelnik,

He cannot ban you, but I can.

That said, I'm not - not from that, if it's isolated.

Yes, there are obvious deficiencies in the ability to recreate Star Control without the core assets. And Yes, they aren't FF&PR3. I also recognize that SC2 had so many great things about it that different players will value different parts and think those are most important. SC:O will probably manage to be some of those things, and will probably satisfy someÖ and definitely not others. We don't yet know the balance of those two camps.

You presume to speak for everyone.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on November 09, 2017, 03:30:58 am
I appreciate your temperance.


However, my last point is this thread will be this.

Mostly people are annoyed at me for being hostile. I reiterate, I wasn't hostile to start, until they started banning anyone who questioned things or pointed out this website exists. I don't really tolerate people who have a Bioware/EA games mentality of customer-relations. For what it's worth, I am sorry for my over the top hostility.   

This man is not your ally, nor is he your friend. It is more likely that Stardock wishes we didn't exist because the very existence of TUQM cuts directly into their profits. If they could shut this down they would. Basic business strategy.

If they could stop FF and PR3, they would. Kudos to them for being -very- smart with their legal work. The final note is, they can't so they try to muddy the waters.

You are right, I did presume to speak for everyone, and I am by no means a representative. My experiences with other fans of this game are anecdotal, no matter how many of them have looked at SC:O and turned away in disgust.

However, you could call me an example of a fan who was spurned, silenced, and ultimately, will speak out non-stop against this Michael Bay level corruption of something important, and do everything I can to make sure everyone knows the kind of tactics Stardock is using to sell something they have already warped beyond recognition.

Have a great night all.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on November 09, 2017, 07:13:03 am
One question, are you a Founder by any chance?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on November 09, 2017, 04:50:04 pm
But they COULD have stopped Fred and Paul. They chose not to.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on November 09, 2017, 05:19:19 pm
No they couldn't. They own the rights to everything but the title, do you think Activision would allow them to release TUQM otherwise?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on November 09, 2017, 05:40:44 pm
Yes, Reiche owns it and that's why UQM was able to happen. However, I've read that Stardock's portion of the rights may have allowed them to use the SC2 lore on license or something similar if they really wanted to. If this is correct, Reiche couldn't say no if he received royalties and wasn't doing anything with the IP (which in 2013 they weren't). Split IP rights are always messy and confusing, and my guess is that the fine-print legalities of this are complicated enough that both sides could make arguments if it came to a fight. We can be glad it didn't.

Anyway, I think the announcement of Ghosts will help Origins' sales more than it hurts and vice versa. They're not coming out close together, they're in different universes, and both games will raise interest in Star Control-style space adventures in general.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on November 09, 2017, 07:04:52 pm
No they couldn't. They own the rights to everything but the title, do you think Activision would allow them to release TUQM otherwise?

That's actually not true.   

Stardock has exclusive rights to any sequels to story, characters, lore, etc. from any Star Control game.   

Paul and Fred own the IP and are free to release it as they see fit (which they did).    And not to mention, Paul and Fred asked us not to use the aliens from classic series in SCO because they hoped to return to the Ur-Quan Masters universe and regardless of what the licensing agreement stipulates, we felt it would be pretty bad form to go against the wishes of the people who created that IP.

Stardock, however, is very much in favor of seeing the Ur-Quan story continued since it is not about to try to retell Star Control II's story or attempt to...ahem, follow the events of Star Control III.  So it has no problem waiving that agreement so that the Ur-Quan universe story can continue for years to come.




Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on November 10, 2017, 04:26:35 pm
BTW, he got blocked because he acted the same on the Star Control forum as he has here.

Given that I was the one who posted here the news about Ghosts (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=6968.0) my feelings on the continuation of that universe should be self-evident.   

We would love to have had Paul and Fred work on the new Star Control game and asked them to.  Unfortunately, Activision, at the time, would not allow that as they were pretty busy with Skylanders (this is back in 2013 time frame).

My take on the Ur-Quan universe is that it is complex.  It isn't just "dark" or "campy".  It's varied.  That's what I think makes it so compelling.




Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Kaiser on November 11, 2017, 11:00:57 am
While I'm not exactly in favor of the art style that SCO is going for, it works.  As they're also releasing the tools required to create our own universes through their engine, I'll gladly overlook such minor reservations. I know Frogboy is a huge Star Control fan.  I have no doubt he'll do everything in his power to be a responsible steward for the Star Control name.

I wouldn't have purchased Founder status if I thought otherwise.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Stardrake on November 12, 2017, 12:32:06 pm
Finally, I don't like your tone, Zelnik. It comes over as extremely aggressive.
This has not been called for, and is not helpful in your argumentation.
And what you've been screaming around actually made me slightly more curious about the upcoming Origins. Because now I want to play it to see how your rant fits with the game, and to make my own personal opinion.
(SC2 is a "Humanity-fuck yeah!" game too. And our speed of development may indeed be a real concern for others. Especially when you look at how we achieve it (through lack of respect for nun-Human requirements (e.g. tipping the current equilibrium of Earth's nature to be very unfavourable for many species))
In fact, it's pushed me to take that extra step and take the plunge myself, since I think that Stardock has been treating the franchise (and the original creators) with respect and that deserves support.

There's a certain amount of "it's changed so it sucks" whenever a franchise changes hands... and sometimes even when it DOESN'T, and the original creators experimented with something different. Stardock picked up the title at a time when FF and PR3 were not going to in the foreseeable future and where, if they didn't make a game, the franchise would remain fallow as it has since Kessari Quadrant. However, instead of stepping on the toes of the original creators, they chose to make a SC2-style game in an entirely different universe, leaving the original universe to FF and PR3 as and when they chose to do that (as they have recently announced that they will be).

It seems that you don't like the tone and plot of that universe. You are entitled to your opinion, but when Stardock has practically bent over backwards to keep space open for FF and PR3 to make Ghosts of the Precursors when another company might not have... I'm not going to condemn them if the story they DO tell makes use of different themes to SC2.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Kwayne on November 19, 2017, 12:07:14 am
SC:O looks a bit Disney to me. But I wouldn't say one can't write a Star Control story with Disney-looking characters.

I'm on the opinion that every race in SC2 has a dark/disturbing quality to them in some way or another, and their interactions create puzzles to solve, mysteries to uncover, which is basically how a Star Control like setting is formed. What matters in regards of looks is being careful in regards of aesthetic diversity. In SC2 this meant not only using different tropes with comm screen graphics but different art styles, different ways of presentation. My worry regarding SC:O's looks is that it may not be able to recreate the variety of how SC2 races were presented, because it is already somewhat limited by 3D.

But I'm glad I saw nearly nothing about the story/conversations of SC:O so I couldn't say it sucks beforehand. I'm also too old to get worked up because it may have been made differently than I imagined.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on December 07, 2017, 05:28:33 pm
Welp looks like we had another example of stardock lying to us. Check out the Fred and Paul blog. Looks like stardock did some stuff they shouldn't have done and things weren't so idyllic.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on December 07, 2017, 08:31:52 pm
That's already under discussion starting here (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=6968.msg76354#msg76354). ;)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on December 11, 2017, 09:43:34 pm
Welp looks like we had another example of stardock lying to us. Check out the Fred and Paul blog. Looks like stardock did some stuff they shouldn't have done and things weren't so idyllic.
I'll admit it, I was too quick to trust Stardock. I think I wanted to like them.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Pyro411 on December 12, 2017, 02:59:07 am
Honestly I could say it'd hold it's own and be a great game be it from Stardock or from Fred & Paul...

The problem is with such a beloved game that hasn't been touched in close to 30 years, no matter who makes it, it will fail to meet expectations if the fan community attempts to elevate it to saintly status without even having a good run at the game(s)

If you follow both games casually and buy both games when they come out "even if it's dirt cheap on a steam sale" odds are you will enjoy them.  Now if you try to hold it to the same levels as say what happened with Duke Nukem fans and critics alike will be deeply disappointed.  This wouldn't be because the game is bad, but because the game doesn't reach your level of expectation, which would be true even if they spent hundreds of millions of dollars in having everything flawlessly render on the fly while having every line of text voiced along with the optional VR & touch components allowing you to feel your hand get swatted after attempting to feel a Syreen's boob/butt.

My suggestion, don't be so militant on opinions, but do be casually vocal with proper feedback on items in the proper places...
IE:
Improper
HFS the artwork in your game sucks, my 5 year old could do better!
Proper
Honestly I think with the background of the race I'm looking at it should be drawn a little more like X, Y, Z.

As for the legal fight between Paul/Fred and Stardock, at this point we're just all observers and the lawyers are going to have to hash it out in the thunder dome.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on December 12, 2017, 04:41:01 am
I have my opinions and speculation but to my eyes Stardock has done nothing wrong.
Everybody there is more than cooperative and are extremely enthusiastic about both Origins and Ghosts of the Precursors.

All I say is keep an open mind and hope that this whole thing doesn't kill either Star Control projects or even both.
I'm looking forward to both so I would die a bit inside if either were canceled.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on December 12, 2017, 05:03:32 pm
Their posterboys and spokespeople have lied to us and performed some really dodgy business practices all in an effort to make a buck. They even tried to deflect by saying they would send royalties to P and F.

Sorry. They are right up there with Blizzard and EA.  Corrupt and backstabbing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on December 12, 2017, 08:52:05 pm
Their posterboys and spokespeople have lied to us and performed some really dodgy business practices all in an effort to make a buck. They even tried to deflect by saying they would send royalties to P and F.

Sorry. They are right up there with Blizzard and EA.  Corrupt and backstabbing.

Are you planning to contribute anything to the community other than negativity?

Stardock owns Star Control.  That includes the classic series. It has the publishing rights for the classic series as well.  There is disagreement on what those publishing rights entail (obviously) as those products have content that was licensed from P&F under various terms and conditions.  The legal folks will straighten things out, ideally in a way that satisfies everyone.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on December 15, 2017, 04:00:15 pm
Their posterboys and spokespeople have lied to us and performed some really dodgy business practices all in an effort to make a buck. They even tried to deflect by saying they would send royalties to P and F.

Sorry. They are right up there with Blizzard and EA.  Corrupt and backstabbing.

Are you planning to contribute anything to the community other than negativity?

Stardock owns Star Control.  That includes the classic series. It has the publishing rights for the classic series as well.  There is disagreement on what those publishing rights entail (obviously) as those products have content that was licensed from P&F under various terms and conditions.  The legal folks will straighten things out, ideally in a way that satisfies everyone.


Thanks for staying adultlike, also in the legal conflict.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on January 11, 2018, 02:36:17 am
I LOVE KITTENS, AND PONIES. STYGIAN IS BEST PONY.

ALSO I REALLY DISAGREE WITH FROGBOY AND THINK HE HAS NOT BEEN ENTIRELY HONEST


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on January 11, 2018, 09:48:43 am
We do mot know what happens behimd the curtains.
There are lawyers involved, so they'll keep a lid on it at least until there is agreement.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 11, 2018, 12:25:44 pm
I LOVE KITTENS, AND PONIES. STYGIAN IS BEST PONY.

ALSO I REALLY DISAGREE WITH FROGBOY AND THINK HE HAS NOT BEEN ENTIRELY HONEST

I'm trying to find nice words for the sentence buck off and never return :)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Orz? on January 12, 2018, 08:28:38 pm
All I'm gonna say is this:

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars flopped. The devs didn't seem to "get it" in terms of what made the originals (particularly Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares) so appealing (mechanically and otherwise) as to stand the test of time after so many years. They didn't even come close. They thought "if we make it a Hollywoodesque/Disney-like 'cinematic' experience with the likes of Luke Skywanker and other sci-fi Star Wreck 'legends' contributing their voice-overs to it... everyone would surely loooove it, nostalgics and newcomers alike, and we're gonna make lotsa, lotsa money!"

Civilization: Beyond Earth, the alleged "spiritual successor" to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, also flopped. Didn't hit the mark. Faaaaaar from it. Heart was in the wrong place. It was basically just a "skin mod" for Civ 5 in an attempt to milk money from all those nostalgics. Yeah, sure, you could argue the X-COM reboot, on the other hand, didn't flop. But as far as I could tell: it had nothing whatsoever of X-Com: UFO Defense in it save the brand name. It could be a "massive success" for all I care, but not because they slapped the X-COM brand on it. (For what it's worth, OpenXcom is the real "successor" here. By a long, looooong stretch.)

Likewise, the upcoming System Shock reboot and prequel (?), will likely flop too. Because of the same marketing gimmick: "let's turn the game into a Hollywood/Disney interactive movie"! That, and twisting SHODAN into yet another softporn, eye-candy female villain cuz "that will surely sell!" After all, you gotta have at lest one hyper-sexualized female character nowadays, right? (For those who don't know what I'm talking about: SHODAN was an artificial intelligence referred to as both an "it" and even a "he" in the original gameóno genders attached.)

And so, unfortunately and regrettably (but not surprisingly or unexpectedly) Star Control: Origins will... probably also flop. Once again, the devs seem to have their hearts in the wrong place: profit over creativity, and flashy 'Michael-Bay' visuals over gameplay, character & story first and foremost. They focus so much on the "skin" that it ends up being a completely "soulless" product by the time it's releasedóan imitation and mimicry at best. Yet a cash-cow to be milked dry all the same, even if for only "5 minutes of fame".



Bottom line is this: the gaming industry is not the same as it used to be. It has lost its former "innocence", sad as it may be. It's basically the new Hollywood/Disney now, purely driven by greed and profit. And in this age of "nostalgic revival", they will psychologically prey on the weakness because they understand "nostalgia equals easy, safe, risk-free money" in their cold, calculating schemes.

It doesn't matter if these game are shit in the end, because they know people will still click that big, bold "BUY ME" button as they frantically drool "TAKE MY MONEY!" at the screen, like mindless zombies. Yes, these game will probably still appeal to the 15-year old audiences of today who will have a "touch n' go" with them and jump to the next flashy game right afterwards. Save for a few exceptions, video games are just not made for the same reasons anymore.

No, nowadays gaming studios are all about (a) maximizing profit by (b) appealing to the widest audience/demographic (wanky teens to old dicks) whilst (c) making the game as addictive as possible (hence the pervasiveness of "microtransactions", "loot-boxes", "season passes", "DLCs", and so on, in every major triple-A title). They are essentially creating virtual slot-machine casinos disguised as video games. And I can't support that kind of psychological exploit.

So although I may not "like" Zelnik's tone either, I understand where they are coming from. (Blizzard died after Warcraft III when it sold its proverbial soul to the devil and joined the "We're In It For The Big Fat Bucks" club alongside Disney, Microsoft, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Capcom, Rockastar, et al).

But they aren't worst than those who continue to click that big, bold, "BUY ME" button. No, the biggest culprit here is the consumer who continues to consume the product they are being soldóand the addicts that defend their vice.

After all, they do say "don't bite the hand that feeds", right?

Apologies if any this comes off as too harsh or abrasive; just some raw, undiluted, brutal honesty!

It's just an internet forum, don't take too much offense for it! ;)

Food for though!

(Didn't bother reading the entire thread/topic, but got the gist of it, so probably shouldn bother replying to this post as it is not meant to initiate or perpetuate any kind of flame war.)



EDIT: Perhaps it wasn't the most clever idea to drop this post amidst such animosity. So I'll just add this: should we be having this conversation face-to-face, everything would reveal itself to be said in a much more amicable (and why not, humorous) tone than it otherwise may appear at first glance over the impersonal "wall" that is the interwebs :)




Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on January 12, 2018, 08:52:18 pm
It doesn't matter if these game are shit in the end, because they know people will still click that big, bold "BUY ME" button as they frantically drool "TAKE MY MONEY!" at the screen, like mindless zombies. Yes, these game will probably still appeal to the 15-year old audiences of today who will have a "touch n' go" with them and jump to the next flashy game right afterwards. Save for a few exceptions, video games are just not made for the same reasons anymore.

Lots of your claims might be partially true, at least according to your own perspective. But you shouldn't necessarily underestimate how the  (rosy retrospection bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosy_retrospection)), might be influencing your own perspective. Things weren't necessarily just flowers and roses in the past either.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 15, 2018, 11:26:08 am
I ALSO LOVE KITTENS AND PONIES. HOWEVER, MOONDANCER IS BEST PONY.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on January 16, 2018, 05:23:00 am
Folks,

having opinions is OK. Even opinions lots of us disagree with. Even opinions that I disagree with, or you disagree with.

But personal attacks are not so OK. And it gets much less OK when they are unfounded, hyperbolic, overgeneralized, and/or intensely personal.

Also, issuing cryptic statements that can come across as threatening is not so great, even if the threat is mild.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on January 18, 2018, 03:02:04 am
The comparison with the new MOO and other recent games that have tried to revive old franchises is an interesting one.

Did the lead designer of those games hang out on the fan community sites for years before release listening to feedback and interacting with the fan community?

Because with Star Control, I'm here.  I've been here for years.  If the game comes out and isn't good, I'll be here.

If Stardock wanted a quick cash grab with Star Control, the smart thing would have been to:

Just use the classic aliens and make it with Unity and have released it years ago.

Instead, we've created a brand new game engine around Star Control in order to do it right.  We also, out of respect for Paul and Fred, spent the past four years with a team of writers crafting an extensive lore and background in the Scryve universe in order to leave the Ur-Quan universe alone.

Some of you have the Fleet Battles beta so hopefully its quality, even at this early stage, speaks for itself.   And when people are traveling to thousands of worlds in which they can travel across the surface of the planet finding quests, precursor relics, minerals, etc. and then travel through hyperspace where they can customize not just what their ship does but what it visually looks like and then download new missions and new universes made by the fans and by us, I am hopeful that people will see that the team making the new Star Control are dedicated.

We know Star Control, its history, the Ur-Quan lore, the notes, etc. inside and out.  We've read every IRC chat log, every book that Paul suggested we read, every interview, all the lore, etc.  so that we know not just what Star Control I, II (and yes, III) was about but also to understand the mindset that surrounded it when it was being made.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on January 18, 2018, 08:45:30 pm
> Just use the classic aliens and make it with Unity and have released it years ago.

That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If you had the rights to that, you could do what you're doing now, but with SC1&2 aliens, and I don't think anyone would be complaining.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on January 19, 2018, 01:09:01 am
> Just use the classic aliens and make it with Unity and have released it years ago.

That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If you had the rights to that, you could do what you're doing now, but with SC1&2 aliens, and I don't think anyone would be complaining.

Paul and Fred had asked us not to and as a a pretty die hard fan, I wanted to make them happy.  By contrast, MoneyGrab corp. wouldn't have cared what Paul and Fred wanted.

Now, if I'd known that our gesture wasn't going to be treated with the good will I thought it had earned, we would likely have been more inclined to use the aliens and it is still something we may consider post-release at least in terms of cameos and in terms of helping tie it all together.  But that's a different issue.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on January 19, 2018, 09:02:48 am
Let me interject, that I am personally rather glad you did not.

Honestly, I also fear that any continuation of the story will feel like a let-down.
The original SC2 left so many things open, with just some vague hints at a possible solution, that there was plenty of room for any imagination to fill any gaps.
That was part of the allure to me and my friends.
Filling that gap with more story bears the risk of us overanalyzing friends of finding inconsistencies which will destroy the memory of a pleasant game.
And not leaving many points open will also not feel like a SC2 experience.
So, for every open question to be filled, I expect three new blanks to be opened.
(And none of my friends and me had any issues with the inconsistencies between SC1 and SC2. It was part of the shift from a simple missions game to a full story game.
We never treated SC1 as a "fixed story", also because you could write your own missions.)
But changing parts of the "fixed story" of SC2 to fit in the enw setting of GotP? That'll be harder to accept.

I will take the coming game any way: as a real try to continue the lure of SC2 (and thus risking more open ends I want to be filled by more sequels), or as a try to close off the story and end most open questions (risking that the game will be less enjoyable, as it'll leave less to imagination).
I simply want it.

And the more I've read about StarDock's try, the more I want to play it.
But I fear that StarDock's game might get rather complex, and will take a while to learn the ins and outs to play, and as a father of three, I am hard pressed for time.
Anyway, just like SC3, I'll put it in my shelf, likely. Just to have it. (Yes, I became such a StarControl fan.)


I am looking forward to both new games, and I thank StarDock for not going the straight way. (Although I might have bought that game anyway, and then felt like being cheated as too many answers would've been delivered on a silver plate, like SC3/Kessari Quadrant did.)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 21, 2018, 11:27:31 am
Folks,

having opinions is OK. Even opinions lots of us disagree with. Even opinions that I disagree with, or you disagree with.

But personal attacks are not so OK. And it gets much less OK when they are unfounded, hyperbolic, overgeneralized, and/or intensely personal.

Also, issuing cryptic statements that can come across as threatening is not so great, even if the threat is mild.

I didn't mean it, I just hoped he would retaliate in a worse way and you would ban him as a result (or he would leave on his own accord).
Besides that, if I am so successful at threatening across the ocean and through telephone and glass fibre wires, I really should change my profession.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on January 22, 2018, 12:10:09 am
I can understand the overall gist of what Orz? is saying above, though there isn't much that can be done about it.

The fact is that video game development in the modern world is a costly exercise at the best of times.  It used to be something done by tinkering nerds in their basement (read about how Richard Garriott made Akalabeth, for example) and could be done by a small number of people working together.

But the demand for better sound, better graphics, and more polish comes with increasing demands on staff.  You can't have some amateur doing a bunch of wonky pixel art, as most people want it to look smooth and good.  You can't have the neighbourhood radio station providing voice acting, it needs to be Patrick Stewart now.  All these things cost money, and lots of it.  Making a videogame becomes a huge gamble, because it's no longer about doing it just for fun - if it doesn't sell, you're now bankrupt.

The offshoot of this is that high quality games need to appeal to the largest audience possible, and as such, they are far more likely to attempt to play it safe - that includes creating sequels to existing, nostalgia-inducing licenses to try and secure a 'guaranteed' audience, while also making it 'approachable for a new generation'!

In many cases the two don't mix well.  Having anyone but the original authors making a sequel to an old game almost never ends up recapturing the same feel of the original.  "They changed it, so it sucks!" will be the warcry of all the grognards who loved the original, for they loved it for its warts and all.  Keeping it too close to the original however will not capture much of a new audience, and the grognards tend to be the (vocal) minority, so don't expect a lot of things to be pitched only to them.

There are exceptions: some indie developers, typically with much lower budgets, do experiment and try new things (things like Undertale, Super Meat Boy/Binding of Isaac spring to mind) but for every success there are a ton of failures - not always because the games were bad, but because they just never reached the critical mass word of mouth needed to make them popular.

Stardock is probably in a similar situation.  I doubt they want to put out a game that doesn't live up to our nostalgia googles version of Star Control 1 and 2, but (and maybe I'm a cynic) I doubt they'll be able to recapture the same feel of the originals.  This is almost inevitable - everyone has their own writing stylem, and that style evolves over time.  If you replace the writers for a certain established series with someone else, or even the same writers, if enough time has lapsed - no matter how passionate they might be - you'll end up with something that feels more like fan-ficiton.  Either it will feel like they're trying too hard to ape past glories or the new things they add will feel out of place.  It's a no-win scenario either way.

For my part, I haven't been following Star Control: Origins very much, but a lot of what Zelnick says does resonate with me in the sense that it may have been "missing the point".  One of endearing things about Star Control was that humans were both technologically and socially rather primitive compared to most of the other races and really just got caught up in a greater conflict by accident, so having a plot based on other species fearing mankind's rapid development sounds like a case of someone not really getting that aspect of it.

One thing I would add though: Zelnik's venom seems to come heavily from how he (she?) percieves as 'scummy' business practices by Stardock.  Zelnik is poor at making his point because of how angry he is, and is so abrasive that I wouldn't be surprised if he got banned from their forums for that reason alone.  However, the posts on on F&P's blog (https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/) make it pretty clear that either F&P or Stardock are not being honest here.  Either Stardock respects F&P as the creators and rightsholders of Star Control and F&P are just posting stuff to make Stardock look bad (for some reason), or Stardock is legally overreaching and are activley acting against F&P's wishes for the game/unverse they themselves own the rights to.

Of the two parties, I feel like I trust F&P more, since I don't understand what would be in it for them to lie.  I find it hard to reconcile the supposed love and care that Frogboy states Stardock has for the Star Control universe with the apparent lack of respect shown to F&P's wishes (legal rights notwithstanding).  This in turn makes me wary of anything else Frogboy has said, even if he's said it much more politely than Zelnick.  Actions speak louder than words.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on January 22, 2018, 12:16:50 am
> either F&P or Stardock are not being honest here

I suspect that the rights Stardock bought were themselves already disputed Ė that is, F&P would hold that Stardock was sold something the seller did not own, while Stardock might reasonably be under a different impression.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on January 22, 2018, 01:19:20 am
> either F&P or Stardock are not being honest here

I suspect that the rights Stardock bought were themselves already disputed Ė that is, F&P would hold that Stardock was sold something the seller did not own, while Stardock might reasonably be under a different impression.

The dispute was apparently already looked into and settled by Atari earlier:
"We then contacted Atari to let them know that we were the original authors and owners of the copyright to the games and that we had not given permission for them to republish our work.   Atari checked with its lawyers and wrote back confirming our claims"

Though you're right, Stardock may not have been aware of this earlier settlement when they bought the rights from Atari.

However, there wouldn't even have to be a legal wrangle, since F&P's understanding has always been that the game cannot be sold "without their permission".  Which means that simply getting their permission should have been enough to let Stardock sell it without argument from F&P.  The fact that they haven't been given that permission means either they didn't ask, or they did, were told no, and decided to go ahead and sell it anyway (without knowing for sure if they had the rights to do so).

In the meantime, F&P made it quite clear that they did not want their games distributed anywhere but GOG and what their position is.  Yet even now the games sit on the Stardock store and on Steam.  If Stardock respected F&P's wishes they would have pulled it from the stores until the legal wrangle can be solved (despite the fact that it might cost them money).

As an aside: in looking at their store, I've just now also noticed that Stardock have named their (paid-for) Star Control 1 + 2 bundle:
Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters.

Surely if they are such fans of Star Control then they are aware that the (free) open source remake on this site is also called "The Ur-Quan Masters"?  Wouldn't that cause undue confusion in people who get recommended to look for and play "The Ur-Quan Masters"?

The more I look into this, the more I'm starting to agree with Zelnick's take on Stardock's practices.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on January 22, 2018, 04:02:16 am
The games were renamed in an effort to split the canon between 1/2, 3, and Origins. Presumably Ghosts as well, since that will be set in the Ur-Quan Masters universe.
Now Star Control isn't burdened with Star Control 3 being a sequel to the the Ur-Quan story but is set in a completely different Universe altogether.

Star Control II's subtitle was always "The Ur-Quan Masters", Brad decided to drop the numbering.
(https://i.imgur.com/fZFcOPMb.png) (https://i.imgur.com/fZFcOPM.png) (https://i.imgur.com/DmhrWDAb.png) (https://i.imgur.com/DmhrWDA.png)
You'll also notice that Star Control 3 has been renamed to Star Control: The Kessari Quadrant. (https://www.gog.com/game/star_control_the_kessari_quadrant)
You can keep calling it Star Control 3 if you like but it is officially not in the same universe as The Ur-Quan Masters.

Common sense also dictates that Paul & Fred don't hold the rights to sell the games anymore otherwise they would not be on GOG or Steam right now as per their blog post. (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/12/4/star-control-i-ii-and-iii-arent-for-sale-on-gogcom-any-more-how-come)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on January 22, 2018, 04:21:27 am
The games were renamed in an effort to split the canon between 1/2, 3, and Origins. Presumably Ghosts as well, since that will be set in the Ur-Quan Masters universe.
Now Star Control isn't burdened with Star Control 3 being a sequel to the the Ur-Quan story but is set in a completely different Universe altogether.

Star Control II's subtitle was always "The Ur-Quan Masters", Brad decided to drop the numbering.
(https://i.imgur.com/fZFcOPMb.png) (https://i.imgur.com/fZFcOPM.png) (https://i.imgur.com/DmhrWDAb.png) (https://i.imgur.com/DmhrWDA.png)
You'll also notice that Star Control 3 has been renamed to Star Control: The Kessari Quadrant. (https://www.gog.com/game/star_control_the_kessari_quadrant)
You can keep calling it Star Control 3 if you like but it is officially not in the same universe as The Ur-Quan Masters.

Duly noted about the subtitle, I didn't remember that this as the original subtitle for SC2.

That said, I still find it misleading - Star Control 1's subtitle isn't "The Ur-Quan Masters" and there's heaps of other subtitles they could have used instead to differentiate that 'universe' that would be less confusing.  After all, they made up a new one for Star Control 3, there's nothing to stop them making up a new one for the Star Control 1+2 bundle too.  One that doesn't share a name with this open-source remake.

Common sense also dictates that Paul & Fred don't hold the rights to sell the games anymore otherwise they would not be on GOG or Steam right now as per their blog post. (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/12/4/star-control-i-ii-and-iii-arent-for-sale-on-gogcom-any-more-how-come)

I'm not so sure.  Distributors like GOG and Steam likely won't do anything if two sides (legally) disagree, which is why the games haven't been pulled.  Most likely the wrangling is ongoing, and F&P's last update detailed that they'd previously argued with Atari about this in the past and won.  I suspect if they lawyer up they might win again - that process just hasn't finished yet.

What it boils down to is: the relationship between Stardock and F&P is not at all rosy.  If it was, F&P would be giving Stardock their blessing, not fighting them tooth and nail in the legal arena.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on January 22, 2018, 06:32:35 am
True, he could have renamed it 'The Ur-Quan Conflict', 'The Path of Now and Forever', or 'The Eternal Doctrine'. But Star Control II had 'The Ur-Quan Masters' as a subtitle first.
Which is how UQM got its name.

If they had kept the numbering would it have made a difference?

Star Control / Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters

My new speculation is that Paul or Fred don't like the idea that they have to have the IP handed back to them. Like some sort of pride issue.
They can't make a new game without having their IP handed over and it's leaving a big bad taste in their mouths.
But instead of swallowing their pride they're doubling down on using the cult of opinion to make it look like Stardock has hand it over,
unwillingly, to save face.

That way they can win the support of their fans and make it look like they were right all along.

Or it could simply be a ploy to cover up their reluctance to make a new game. Me thinks they haven't really thought it through either way.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on January 22, 2018, 07:48:45 am
True, he could have renamed it 'The Ur-Quan Conflict', 'The Path of Now and Forever', or 'The Eternal Doctrine'. But Star Control II had 'The Ur-Quan Masters' as a subtitle first.
Which is how UQM got its name.

If they had kept the numbering would it have made a difference?

Star Control / Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters

My new speculation is that Paul or Fred don't like the idea that they have to have the IP handed back to them. Like some sort of pride issue.
They can't make a new game without having their IP handed over and it's leaving a big bad taste in their mouths.
But instead of swallowing their pride they're doubling down on using the cult of opinion to make it look like Stardock has hand it over,
unwillingly, to save face.

That way they can win the support of their fans and make it look like they were right all along.

Or it could simply be a ploy to cover up their reluctance to make a new game. Me thinks they haven't really thought it through either way.


Interesting take on the situation.

Of course it could be that nobody's out to 'get' anybody: Stardock just want to sell the games they have rights to, F&P (incorrectly) believe they have rights they don't.  F&P ask Stardock for something (eg money) that they're not really owed, Stardock (naturally) refuses, F&P get upset since they're not being given something they believe they're owed.

The only way it will properly get resolved is if it ends up going through proper legal proceedings, but I doubt anyone is allowed to talk about any legal proceedings while they're still going on.  Or if both parties come to a mutual agreement and  publicly announce the outcome.

I'd still hope for the last outcome, personally.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 22, 2018, 01:41:50 pm
I just have to say that I am really disappointed in the smear campaign that TFB are doing against stardock.
Legal business is legal business and should be left to their lawyers without making fools of yourselves in public.
You don't see lawyers criticizing Fred on how he writes his code, now do thay?

But perhaps that's my european mind voicing its opinion. I always have the image in my head of the blindfolding statuette holding scales.
Now it appears that TFB, who I held in the highest regard for a long time, add turds to those scales in hopes of influencing them.

Bottom line: Leave lawyering to lawyers or I will think of you less because of it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on January 22, 2018, 02:45:15 pm
Bottom line: Leave lawyering to lawyers or I will think of you less because of it.

Yeah. Why does everybody need to habe opinions about this, when we know so little.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on January 22, 2018, 03:53:41 pm
Bottom line: Leave lawyering to lawyers or I will think of you less because of it.

Yeah. Why does everybody need to habe opinions about this, when we know so little.

Because Paul and/or Fred started airing their bitchy rants to the public.
If they would have kept to themselves and let the lawyers handle it in the first place we wouldn't be here and things would get solved without our knowing there was ever a problem.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on January 22, 2018, 04:48:08 pm
Yet, I found the tidbit they published very informative.

It told us that accoding to their knowledge, GOG had two contracts, one with Atari, and one with them, in order to be able to sell the old Star Control games.
Now it seems that StarDock alone has a contract with GOG.

Therefore the interpretation of the contract/licensing agreement must've changed.
It may be that Atari was in too much trouble to spend money on a low-value contract when they had bigger fish in the pans to go after.

And that FF and PRiii did try to come to an agreement with StarDock, but for whatever reason they have not found common ground for an agreement.

That's where my knowledge ends.
I do not know what has been proposed by either side, and what were requirements by either side; and why these proposals and requirements did not line up to find an agreement.

I love speculating, but here there isn't much to speculate on.

[speculation! - take everything with a large dose of salt, as it may not be true, or I misremember, or misinterpret things having been said/written]
From what I understood, StarDock wants a new agreement, that'll replace the old one, and should leave less questions open for interpretation (which in itself is a good idea).
But the old contract has served FF and PR good enough, why sign a new one?
It may be that putting the old games and the upcoming GotP clearances into one contract is not what FF and PR want, as maybe in their opinion they would not need a contract for GotP, and signing one guaranteeing StarDock to be free from any obligations or hinder in that regard maybe seen as leaving much room for interpretation in the future, and an acknowledgement of the need for a permission, which could backfire if someone less StarControl fanwise would acquire StarDock.

According to Frogboy (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg76149#msg76149), StarDock owns all rights to the characters and storyline for the purpose of creating sequels.
This is definitely a different stance than FF and PR have been talking about, who stated they do not need permission to continue their world.

Since I do not know the words, sentences, and paragraphs of the contract, I cannot speculate who is right.
[/speculation]


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on January 22, 2018, 08:59:39 pm
At this point I think Brad might force feed the IP down P&F's throats whether they like it or not.
He's trying to give it back and he's being met with nothing but hostility and lawyers.

Which makes me think Paul and/or Fred don't know what they own as a legal fact or they're too proud to accept the terms.
It's been so convoluted over the years I wouldn't doubt that it's the former.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on January 23, 2018, 04:12:23 am
I didn't mean it, I just hoped he would retaliate in a worse way and you would ban him as a result (or he would leave on his own accord).

Attempting to provoke someone to posting sometihing bannable (by means other than being so nice it drives them batty) is not an improvement.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Narsham on January 23, 2018, 08:29:26 pm
Common sense also dictates that Paul & Fred don't hold the rights to sell the games anymore otherwise they would not be on GOG or Steam right now as per their blog post. (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/12/4/star-control-i-ii-and-iii-arent-for-sale-on-gogcom-any-more-how-come)

If the rights are in dispute, the status of the games on GOG and Steam would simply reflect their policy under such disputed circumstances. There would be no need for legal involvement if GOG and Steam's decisions were legally binding.

My new speculation is that Paul or Fred don't like the idea that they have to have the IP handed back to them. Like some sort of pride issue.
They can't make a new game without having their IP handed over and it's leaving a big bad taste in their mouths.
But instead of swallowing their pride they're doubling down on using the cult of opinion to make it look like Stardock has hand it over,
unwillingly, to save face.

That way they can win the support of their fans and make it look like they were right all along.

Or it could simply be a ploy to cover up their reluctance to make a new game. Me thinks they haven't really thought it through either way.

This has already been discussed, hasn't it? If I legally own IP and you claim to own it legally instead of me, my accepting of the right to employ the IP to design a game FROM YOU is a concession that you own it. Given that the matter in dispute is the ownership of the IP, and that Paul and Fred either own part of the IP or none of it while Stardock owns part of the IP or all of it, the cost of accepting the "gift" of the IP would be conceding the entire issue currently in play. That's not swallowing your pride, especially not if you genuinely believe you have legal ownership to part of the IP, that's making a gift of the IP you own to Stardock while allowing Stardock to say that they are the ones making the gift to you.

Naturally, from Stardock's perspective, they're offering Paul and Fred something, but even then, accepting the gift would curtail the legal challenge which they well could lose. So either way, claiming that it's a no-brainer for Paul and Fred and purely magnanimous for Stardock distorts the situation.

At this point I think Brad might force feed the IP down P&F's throats whether they like it or not.
He's trying to give it back and he's being met with nothing but hostility and lawyers.

Which makes me think Paul and/or Fred don't know what they own as a legal fact or they're too proud to accept the terms.
It's been so convoluted over the years I wouldn't doubt that it's the former.

What I really don't understand here is why people, none of whom have seen all the contractual paperwork (it's possible even Brad hasn't), insist that they already know the legal status of this IP. The point of bringing a case to court is to DETERMINE the legal status. It is entirely believable that Accolade concluded a legal contract with Paul and Fred which then underwent multiple modifications. Some elements of the IP may have been specifically called out as nontransferrable. Accolade has since been acquired several times; Star Control was sold off to Atari, and then Stardock acquired the property as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction. It is quite possible (even likely) that something happened in that process that violated a prior contract; if the prior contract were unclear, the violation itself might be legally disputable.

Odds are extremely high that nobody with direct knowledge of the state of the original contracts with Paul and Fred was in any way involved by the time Brad was able to make the purchase. I wouldn't care to speculate as to the degree of tangle likely to be produced throughout this process, but I would be extremely surprised if there weren't irregularities or elements subject to legal challenge. Contract law is tricky at the best of times, and given that Paul and Fred were presumably uninvolved since the Accolade days, nobody would be likely to challenge the contractual convolutions. Who cared if what you did was always indisputably and clearly according to prior contract if nobody was ever going to dispute what you did anyway?

When Star Control went on sale again, Paul and Fred obviously cared then. Atari might have had legal grounds to challenge their interpretation of the current IP rights, but why spend more money fighting when you could accept a small trickle of profits by sharing them? And obviously, both parties now care a great deal: Stardock has money and development time invested in the Star Control universe and a curtailment of their IP rights to it could cause them big trouble both early and late. Paul and Fred not only have to worry about their own game, but protecting their legal rights in the face of what they see as infringement by Stardock.

Even in the best-case prior scenario, where Brad was in frequent communication with Paul and Fred, it would be easy enough from their perspective to see what seemed like respect and deference to be an insincere attempt to placate them while robbing them of their legal IP. From Brad's perspective, again in best-case, he had finally purchased all the IP rights he needed only to find that the legal status of that purchase was called into doubt, well after the fact and at the worst time for his new game. If Brad wanted this to go away tomorrow, he could concede all of Paul and Fred's claims and negotiate with them for any IP rights they claim which he needs for his current and future plans. From his perspective, that would be the actual gift. But while that might be the right move for a fan, is it the right move for a CEO?

I well recall when the purchase first went through and there were debates about precisely which rights Atari had which it could sell to Stardock. At the time, the answers weren't always clear. The one good thing to come out of a legal case, then, will be clarity. The question is how long it takes to achieve.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 23, 2018, 08:41:05 pm
I didn't mean it, I just hoped he would retaliate in a worse way and you would ban him as a result (or he would leave on his own accord).

Attempting to provoke someone to posting sometihing bannable (by means other than being so nice it drives them batty) is not an improvement.

That is open for debate :)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Scalare on January 23, 2018, 08:42:39 pm
Narsham, I entirely understand the court thingy, but it is in my opinion not done to make such posts on dogarandkazon's blogspot site :).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on January 23, 2018, 11:07:57 pm
What I really don't understand here is why people, none of whom have seen all the contractual paperwork (it's possible even Brad hasn't), insist that they already know the legal status of this IP.

It's simple. You don't make bitchy public blog posts when you know for a fact that you can take it to court and win.
Then send DMCA takedowns of all 3 Star Control games on GOG and Steam, only to have that reversed by Stardock.

And after that you go radio silent for a month and a half. (And counting.)

In my eyes it looks really bad for P&F.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on January 24, 2018, 04:08:04 am
Just to be clear (note, Iím not a lawyer):

Stardock does NOT own the classic characters or lore.  As far as we are aware, Paul and Fred do.  However, the characters, lore, and ships were exclusively licensed, in perpetuity, to Accolade and in turn Atari and then Stardock.

Thus, Stardock could have used them for Star a Control:Origins but didnít for a number of reasons including Paul asking us not to.

But Accolade always owned Star Control. It was always Accoladeís  game. Paul licensed content that made up Star Control (itís not a publishing agreement, itís a licensing agreement) but it was never owned by Paul or Fred.

That doesnít diminish their contributions in the least. But the IP situation, while messy when it comes to the actual characters, is not confusing when it comes to Star Control itself.  The federal and I ternstion trademark rights to the Star Control franchise are owned. Y Stardock. And a trademark is not about the name of the product alone.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on February 25, 2018, 05:51:30 pm
Stardock has always been a pretty suspect business. Seems like they have the same lawyers as the Druuge.

You might have some suspicions when they're saying "we love the creators of Star Control" while at the same time saying "they are not the creators, and they don't own anything".

Really the most insincere part is the amount that they've been talking about creating this supposed sequel with the creators' blessing, when it seems they've barely been in contact. Over the past few years Stardock reached out to them a few times to get any kind of co-sign -- working together on a sequel, working together on a 25th anniversary release, licensing the ships and races -- and Paul and Fred have declined at every turn. Paul and Fred wouldn't even so much as give an interview for Stardock's anniversary PR blast.

Stardock has done everything they can to try to co-opt the goodwill associated with the original games. At what point do we accept that the original creators want nothing to do with him? Stardock is just the guy who bought Star Control 3 from Atari.

And now that push has come to shove, he's going to go into a courtroom and say they didn't create it -- Accolade did. You can read the claims in their own words here:

https://www.polygon.com/2018/2/22/17041632/star-control-stardock-brad-wardell-lawsuit

You won't hear him claim that here, though.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on February 25, 2018, 10:30:20 pm
Stardock has always been a pretty suspect business..

If  you have specifics to back that up, that line or immediately following would have been the place to mention them. 

Ironically enough, I can think of plenty of specific criticisms of Stardock's business practices.  I find it fairly surprising that you couldn't come up with even one.

Quote
You might have some suspicions when they're saying "we love the creators of Star Control" while at the same time saying "they are not the creators, and they don't own anything".

I certainly do have suspicions!  I have suspicions that, first of all, you fabricated the first quote - I find it very unlikely you would be able to find, anywhere, anybody from Stardock referring to Paul Reiche and Fred Ford as "the creators of Star Control" (although you certainly will find Stardock saying they love what Reiche & Ford created, which has entirely different legal consequences), and second, I have suspicions that you don't understand lawyers or courtrooms or how they work.

Quote
Really the most insincere part is the amount that they've been talking about creating this supposed sequel with the creators' blessing, when it seems they've barely been in contact.

Really?  And yet:

Quote
Over the past few years Stardock reached out to them a few times to get any kind of co-sign -- working together on a sequel, working together on a 25th anniversary release, licensing the ships and races -- and Paul and Fred have declined at every turn. Paul and Fred wouldn't even so much as give an interview for Stardock's anniversary PR blast.

First, Stardock is trying to put life back into the Star Control properties they purchased and Paul Reiche & Fred Ford are refusing to assist, and this is somehow Stardock's fault?

Second, that's not "barely in contact".  To say nothing of the fact that there are multiple documents that have been made public demonstrating the repeated contact over the years between Stardock and Paul Reiche & Fred Ford.

Quote
Stardock has done everything they can to try to co-opt the goodwill associated with the original games.

They paid for what legal rights were available and put money into making a new game.  Are they not allowed to capitalize into what they bought?  Should nobody have been allowed to buy anything?  Would you prefer to have Star Control sitting in legal limbo for the rest of forever?

Quote
And now that push has come to shove, he's going to go into a courtroom and say they didn't create it -- Accolade did.

You won't hear him claim that here, though.

Oddly enough, this is not a courtroom, and has no bearing on whether the argument has any validity.

As has been said earlier:

Bottom line: Leave lawyering to lawyers or I will think of you less because of it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on February 25, 2018, 11:16:48 pm
Nobody is trying to falsely attribute something to Stardock, so pardon me if I lost something in the paraphrasing. But I find it odd how defensive you are on Stardock's behalf.

First, I feel pretty misled about the contact with the creators. Maybe I shouldn't have assumed. Just that when Stardock is including how much he's talking to Paul and Fred in his PR blasts, I didn't imagine that meant that Paul and Fred were rejecting any kind of collaboration, not even an interview.

Maybe it was my bad for making that assumption.

The thing that's way more suspect is the level of public respect for Paul and Fred.

But in the legal proceeding, it's:

Quote
Later, in 1992, Accolade developed and published Star Control II: The Ur-Quan  Masters, a sequel to Star Control I under the 1988 Agreement, and incorporating new characters of space ships and alien races (hereinafter ďStar Control IIĒ). Similarly, Reiche and Ford contend that he/they contributed certain undefined material and/or programming to Star Control II, in collaboration with numerous other authors and contributors, to assist Accolade in the development of the game

You can't tell me there isn't a huge disconnect between the PR and the reality.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on February 26, 2018, 03:41:34 am
But I find it odd how defensive you are on Stardock's behalf.

See my post in the other thread.  I think it's perfectly believable that both sides here think they're the good guys and it annoys me to see people jumping to emotion-based conclusions and getting really hostile on the basis of impressions as opposed to facts.

Quote
But in the legal proceeding, it's:

Quote
Later, in 1992, Accolade developed and published Star Control II: The Ur-Quan  Masters, a sequel to Star Control I under the 1988 Agreement, and incorporating new characters of space ships and alien races (hereinafter ďStar Control IIĒ). Similarly, Reiche and Ford contend that he/they contributed certain undefined material and/or programming to Star Control II, in collaboration with numerous other authors and contributors, to assist Accolade in the development of the game

You can't tell me there isn't a huge disconnect between the PR and the reality.

It's lawyer tactics.  Throw everything you can and see what sticks.  It would not surprise me at all to see the court decide that the balance of evidence does indeed indicate that Paul Reiche & Fred Ford can accurately be described as "the creators of Star Control".  The point is that without actually looking at all the evidence ourselves, we can't know that, and getting angry about a lawyer putting a point up for question is silly.  Having lawyers question points all up and down the line and supply evidence for or against is how these sorts of arguments get resolved.

For my part I am perfectly fine with granting Paul Reiche & Fred Ford full and exclusive credit to everything marvelous about SC2 - I think in my original post on this board (or maybe it was on PNF) I pretty much said that my understanding was that Stardock could only have bought the "Star Control" name and not much else.  I took Paul Reiche's characterization of the legal situation at face value at the time.  Since then, I've seen more than a few datapoints indicating that Stardock does have certain justifications in believing that it has bought a bit more than that.  All of which adds up to the conclusion that there IS cause for a legal case, and there IS reason to need a court to look things over and find some sort of settlement between the two parties, and putting every aspect of the situation up for close examination will make for a more complete picture for the court and - hopefully - a more accurate and just final settlement.

Assuming they can't work it out on their own, which I really wish they would.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on February 26, 2018, 06:07:15 am
It would not surprise me at all to see the court decide that the balance of evidence does indeed indicate that Paul Reiche & Fred Ford can accurately be described as "the creators of Star Control".

Literally NO ONE would be surprised if Paul and Fred are legally the creators of Star Control. Everyone knows it. I'm not just talking about fans, or even super fans who have poured over every detail. It's also people like Greg Johnson who worked with them. It's also in the instruction manual from 25 years ago. Paul and Fred's authorization is a key reason that the open source UQM project exists. And of course, the least important piece of evidence is that Stardock repeatedly  called them the creators.

... Until recently.

It's lawyer tactics.  Throw everything you can and see what sticks.

First off, not all lawyers would do that. Plenty of lawyers would concede basic facts to focus on the legal issue. For example, given the mountain of evidence that Paul and Fred own the copyright, and that Accolade obviously acquired one of those rights by contract (namely publishing and distribution), did that right terminate before being purchased by Stardock? (BTW, unless Paul and Fred fabricated a huge piece of the 1988 agreement, the answer is probably yes it did.)

Second of all, a lawyer isn't this independent powerful body that acts against their client's knowledge. This isn't the first the first time that Stardock has been shady.

Last of all, it stops being a lawyer tactic when Stardock tries to push the idea that Paul and Fred were merely "contributors" in public.

And here's the thing.

If Stardock wants a war of scorched earth where they claim Paul and Fred aren't the creators and barely own a couple lines of old code, that's their right in the dysfunctional legal system we have.

My real issue is that they want to play war while talking out of the other side of their mouth about how they love the creators (sorry!) contributors, and this game is supposedly made with their blessing. It's painfully clear that it is not.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Kaiser on February 26, 2018, 08:07:42 am
As a quick aside:  Does anyone else find it amusing that Zelnik trashes Stardock by comparing them to Blizzard?  You know...  The same ActivisionBlizzard that are the owners of Toys For Bob and Paul and Fred's bosses?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on February 26, 2018, 08:45:53 am
My real issue is that they want to play war while talking out of the other side of their mouth about how they love the creators (sorry!) contributors, and this game is supposedly made with their blessing. It's painfully clear that it is not.

To be fair, not all of the evidence is open to the public. Only the exhibits that P&F and Stardock have decided to share.
There could be damning evidence on either side, we do not know.

What we do know is that P&F aren't fighting the game itself, they're fighting about the use of their characters within said game and how the ship creator could be used to recreate their ships.
Which is a moot point because Origins was created specifically so that their characters wouldn't be used. But they got all in a tissy because they saw an Ur-Quan Dreadnought and Spathi Eluder
hanging from the ceiling in an early shot of one of the character's communication screens. Because references and/or homages are not ok I guess, says the designers who shaped a game full of references and homages.

Then there is the ship creator business, and I hope they realize that's a lost cause, because if they were to win that case then all in-game content creation systems would be liable no matter the game.
Their ships have been recreated in Sins of a Solar Empire, specifically the mod called "Seven Deadly Sins (https://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/306277/mod-7-deadly-sins-by-danman-games-danman3712-ver-25-final-available-to-the-)". Not to mention games like Timewarp, The Ur-Quan Remasters (https://sourceforge.net/projects/sc2-remake/), the Stellaris mod (https://github.com/ViriatoLusitano/UQMS), and an attempt to remake Star Control in a 3D engine by Damon Czanik. (http://damonczanik.com/sc3d/)

Oh, and they also want Stardock to stop selling all the old Star Control games. Fair enough.



Stardock's case against against P&F is that they have no right to associate themselves and their new game with the Star Control mark. And this unfortunately does mean that the lawyers have to question the title of "creators of Star Control II" to cover all of their bases.

P&F launch their blog post about Ghosts of the Precursors (https://web.archive.org/web/20171020225714/https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters) where they explicitly said:
Quote
...we are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control IIģ -- The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursorsô.

On October 6th, 2017. That clearly violates the use of the Star Control mark.

The odd part about this though is that someone within Stardock was holding the lawyers back until P&F decided to file a DMCA claim to take down all three Star Control games from GOG & Steam. Look at the dates.

Here is the blog post (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/12/4/star-control-i-ii-and-iii-arent-for-sale-on-gogcom-any-more-how-come) where they announce that they've taken down the games from Steam & GOG. December 4th, 2017.

Here is the filing of the case (https://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/3:2017cv07025/320268), December 8th, 2017.

Which leads me to believe if P&F weren't being so hostile towards Stardock then none of this would have happened.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on February 26, 2018, 02:04:20 pm
Probably they have a problem with Stardock explicitly advertising the ability to create SC2 ships in it as I think Wardell has in the past (think of other sci-fi franchises - could he directly say "you'll be able to recreate X-wings and the Enterprise with the editor", even if it's possible?)  One point that may be ambiguous is including exact duplicates of some of SC2's more unique ship abilities. But I agree that as a whole Stardock certainly has the right to include an editor and this isn't one of their stronger points.

Quote
P&F launch their blog post about Ghosts of the Precursors (https://web.archive.org/web/20171020225714/https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters) where they explicitly said:
Quote
...we are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control IIģ -- The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursorsô.

On October 6th, 2017. That clearly violates the use of the Star Control mark.
I'm not sure if it's that open-and-shut. Trademark law makes provisions for fair use (such as when referencing someone's trademark is deemed necessary for describing the product - not a lawyer but it seems debatable), and it's a game they are very closely connected with and own the IP for. They didn't name the game "Star Control", which would be a definitive violation, but I'll admit there is some ambiguity on the sequel point especially with the unusual TM/copyright split. Regardless though, they later changed to Ur-quan Masters - likely Stardock asked/told them to do this behind the scenes when things were escalating.

My guess is that there will be a settlement that will allow them to associate with Star Control 1/2, but within certain limitations and with qualification of Stardock's TM ownership. Like maybe "the official sequel to the Ur-quan Masters from the creators of Star Control (tm) 2" (there's no way Stardock's "creator" point will hold up).

Quote
The odd part about this though is that someone within Stardock was holding the lawyers back until P&F decided to file a DMCA claim to take down all three Star Control games from GOG & Steam. Look at the dates.

Here is the blog post (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/12/4/star-control-i-ii-and-iii-arent-for-sale-on-gogcom-any-more-how-come) where they announce that they've taken down the games from Steam & GOG. December 4th, 2017.

Here is the filing of the case (https://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/3:2017cv07025/320268), December 8th, 2017.

Which leads me to believe if P&F weren't being so hostile towards Stardock then none of this would have happened.
By Fred and Paul's account, Wardell claimed the right to use their ships and mentioned suing before Ghosts was even announced. Stardock also forced them out of their agreement with GOG, as Wardell has said publicly. It also appears the games were put on Steam without asking them after tensions were rising. Granted we don't have the e-mails, only each party's version of events and Stardock would give their own interpretation of these things. But regardless they have obviously been arguing since at least two months before Fred and Paul went public and Stardock played a part (at the very least) in heating things up. If you just want to reasonably work things out peacefully and keep it from escalating, why insist on taking full control of digital distribution on dubious legal grounds (for a token handful of cash) when relations are already looking rough?

Also, in retrospect Stardock's 25th anniversary post in November sure looks like an attempt to downplay their authorship of SC2 as much as possible to lay groundwork for the lawsuit.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on February 28, 2018, 04:05:41 am
Okay, so here's what I've gathered after reading way more than I wanted to:

Obligatory Disclaimer:  I Am Not A Lawyer.

* Stardock claims (in #1 here (https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred)) to have acquired "the Star Control brand, copyright to Star Control 3, the license to the Star Control classic characters, lore and the right to distribute the classic DOS games.  The DOS games are already available on GOG  with Atari listed as the publisher. (2013)"

* The contract exhibits attached to PR's counterclaim (link below) are pretty compelling evidence to the contrary.  They document that Paul's contract with Accolade had some restrictions that Stardock was apparently not aware of.  Some of the specific clauses that seem relevant include:
** Section 2.1 of the contract specifies that the contract term ends when Paul&Fred stop getting at least $1000/year in royalties.
** Section 7.1 of  of the contract specifies that a bankruptcy, such as Atari went through in 2013, automatically causes the contract to terminate.
** And Section 7.2 of the contract says that when the contract terminates after the game was finished, the rights revert to Paul.  I think this includes the license to the SC 1&2 characters & lore and the distribution rights for SC 1&2.

* Moreover, the counterclaim alleges that the trademark was abandoned and lapsed in the early 2000s.  Those of us who were here at the time may remember a flash game (http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/Star_Control_derivatives#Star_Control_flash_game) that Atari hired a contractor to make over a weekend in 2007 in an attempt to retain the trademark (see the registration page (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75095591&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch)).  However, under the 1988 revisions to the Trademark Act, this would clearly constitute a token use (http://marklaw.com/index.php/trademark-terms-t/314-token-use), which would not suffice to reassert the mark in commerce.  However, while the large gap where it was not in use could well cause it to be declared abandoned, I don't know whether that can be done retroactively, or if it needed to be done at the time. I don't think this is a slam-dunk, but again, I'm not a lawyer.

* If these counterclaims are all correct, then all Stardock got from Atari's bankruptcy auction were the non-SC2-derived parts of SC3.  This would make me feel rather sorry for Stardock, because it would mean that they really bought a lemon.  I guess one lesson in it is that they should have insisted on getting the original development contracts from Atari before making their bid.

With that said, I think that Paul & Fred have really not been handling this whole affair very well, and I'm rather disappointed in that.  If everything they claim is completely true, then they knowingly allowed Stardock to buy Atari's assets, without clarifying their own view as to what Atari did and didn't own, even in the private exchanges they had with Brad.  It sounds like he's been wanting the original contracts that the games were developed under for quite a while, and they've only now put them up as part of their counterclaims.  And they should know that publicly declaring (https://web.archive.org/web/20171010093136/https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com) that they are working on a "...direct sequel to Star Control IIģ -- The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursorsô", when they know someone else thinks they have the trademark to the name "Star Control", is almost guaranteed to provoke a legal response (they've since edited that page to remove the infringing text).  Additionally, with their public statements, they've been making what should have been settled in private a very high-drama public affair, and apparently haven't been willing to talk to Brad directly to de-escalate things.

I will also send a couple of frowns toward Stardock, though.  Saying that  "Reiche and Ford may not have created any of the artwork, animation or characters incorporated in the games, or otherwise substantially contributed to the authorship of Star Control I and Star Control II." is just pouring gas on the fire, and it flies in the face of too much evidence to be credible.  Even if they didn't draw the art themselves, Fred wrote most of the computer code, and it sounds like the artists and composers were under copyright assignment to Paul, not to Accolade.  And trying to register a trademark (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87720654&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch) for "The Ur-Quan Masters"?  C'mon...that's essentially picking a fight with the biggest potential fans of the game you'd like to make.

What I think should happen (EDITED 2018-03-01):

Stardock's claim on any SC1&2 copyright and distribution is really weak, so they should just let those claims go.  They've always said that they didn't intend to use them, the original contract makes their claim pretty shaky, and the money from GoG sales can't be enough to pay the legal fees associated with having that fight.  Brad should concede that PR&FF are the creators of those games and the sole owners of their copyrights, and apologize for saying otherwise.  Stardock should also drop any attempt to register "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark.  PR should apologize for not showing Brad the contracts that reverted the rights to those games before Brad's company spent a bunch of money.  PR should also apologize for not telling Brad that he thought the "Star Control" trademark might have lapsed

Stardock's claim on the "Star Control" trademark seems pretty strong, though, and PR seems to have already acknowledged that claim on his blog.  PR apologize for saying that he was making a sequel to "Star Control" without getting permission, and agree to abide by the trademark.  He and Fred can use "The Ur-Quan Masters" instead.  If Stardock wanted to be nice, they could grant a license in perpetuity for the use of "STAR CONTROL" in connection to the original SC games.

I think this would put everyone right where they want to be:  SC: Origins can be developed and released by Stardock, PR&FF have clear rights to SC1 and SC2, and can release their new game.  And nobody needs to pay expensive legal bills.  Please folks...we just want to buy great games.  Stop fighting and make them, so we can give you our money.

EDIT 2018-03-01: I've just dug up a bit of new information, which sparked new thoughts:

First, I've just noticed that Stardock filed for a service mark on "STAR CONTROL" back in November, and a fresh trademark application in late February.  In my non-lawyer opinion, this substantially bolsters their trademark argument, because it moots the matter of the old trademark having potentially lapsed; even if it had, Stardock was the first to file to reclaim the mark, and can show that they were already producing a game intended to have that name.  If Paul and Fred wanted to keep them from doing this, I think they would have needed to beat Stardock to filing for the trademark.

Given that, I think Paul and Fred need to be very careful to respect Stardock's trademark, including avoiding saying that they are making a sequel to "Star Control".  I notice that their blog has already removed any statement to that effect, and now says that they are making a sequel to "The Ur-Quan Masters".

Finally, I think that Stardock's attempt to register "THE UR-QUAN MASTERS" can only succeed if they demonstrate that they are actually intending to use the Ur-Quan in one of their games, which I don't think they can do because PR has the copyright on the setting.  I think they should give up on this line of attack.

References:
Stardock Systems, Inc. v. PAUL REICHE III, et al. case filing (https://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/3:2017cv07025/320268)
Stardock Complaint (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385277-Stardock-Legal-Complaint-2635-000-P-2017-12-08-1.html)
Paul Reiche Response (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385448-N-D-Cal-4-17-Cv-07025-SBA-16-0.html)
Paul Reiche Counterclaim (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385486-2635-000-P-2018-02-22-17-Counterclaim.html)
Stardock registration for "UR-QUAN MASTERS" trademark and service mark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87720654&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) (combined application)
Paul & Fred registration for "UR-QUAN MASTERS" trademark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87772787&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch)
Original Accolade registration for "STAR CONTROL" trademark  (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75095591&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch)
Stardock re-registration of "STAR CONTROL" trademark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87807839&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch)
Stardock registration of "STAR CONTROL" service mark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87697919&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) (special expedited service granted)
Paul and Fred's Blog (https://www.dogarandkazon.com)
Stardock's Q&A on the suit (https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/page/1)
Ars Technica article on the dispute (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/02/star-control-countersuit-aims-to-invalidate-stardocks-trademarks)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on February 28, 2018, 04:23:36 am
Hey Elestan, you did a pretty good job, and I agree with most of it. The TLDR:

ē Stardock bought Atari's old contracts, which included Accolade's old contract. In an ideal scenario, Stardock gets to play the role of Atari/Accolade in their agreement with Paul and Fred.

ē Accolade's agreement was supposed to expire at bankruptcy, as Atari did in 2013. It also was to expire if no royalties were paid out, as Accolade did in 2001.

ē The trademark stuff is more complicated. But it may have expired from non-use, depending on if that Flash game is treated as too minimal ("token use"), and depending on any other evidence of use. 

ē Stardock definitively owns the non-SC2-derived parts of SC3. As in the Droog and the Xchagger. Owning a copyright in the derivative work doesn't give you much control over the work it derived from.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on February 28, 2018, 11:20:39 am
ē Stardock definitively owns the non-SC2-derived parts of SC3. As in the Droog and the Xchagger. Owning a copyright in the derivative work doesn't give you much control over the work it derived from.
Except... there is exhibit 4, the 3rd addendum to the licensing contract between FF, PR and Atari.
page 59 of the counterclaim (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385486-2635-000-P-2018-02-22-17-Counterclaim.html)

In this agreement, Paul Reiche agrees to "the publisher wish[ing] to develop and publish new versions and sequels to Star Control I, Star Control II and Star Control III".
But then, in point 4.1 the time for this addendum is limited. To three years. As we all know, no new Star Control has been developed and published during that time (March 98 (date of signatures) and March 2001).  (SC3 was published 1996, the flash game 2007; StarCon (Star Control 4) was never released in a way that left public traces)
There are some terms regarding "in perpetuity", but referring to products developed during the term of the addendum. So there seems to be nothing worthwhile for Stardock in this, IMHO.
Stardock cannot use this to base their belief of having the right to use the SC1/SC2 IP for a enw Star Control game, as the agreement to allow new products has obviously expired.


And I wish to thank Elestan for the overview and links he provided.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Narsham on February 28, 2018, 08:21:31 pm
Okay, so here's what I've gathered after reading way more than I wanted to:

My one addition/quibble: why in the world should PR be responsible for providing a copy or other documentation of his SC-related contracts to Stardock when Stardock was purchasing rights from Atari? Did Atari not receive documentation properly from Accolade? Why would Stardock spend what sounds like a considerable sum purchasing the rights to a property in the absence of any legal documentation delineating what those rights are? FF/PR wasn't a party to this agreement and their involvement shouldn't have been necessary.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on February 28, 2018, 09:15:10 pm
to that I agree.
Yet, if the documentation is readily abailable, outof courtesy I would provide it.
Also to avoid any transfer of rights which actually do not exist anymore.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on February 28, 2018, 09:24:26 pm
My one addition/quibble: why in the world should PR be responsible for providing a copy or other documentation of his SC-related contracts to Stardock when Stardock was purchasing rights from Atari? Did Atari not receive documentation properly from Accolade? Why would Stardock spend what sounds like a considerable sum purchasing the rights to a property in the absence of any legal documentation delineating what those rights are? FF/PR wasn't a party to this agreement and their involvement shouldn't have been necessary.

My take on this is that Stardock assumed that PR developed the game under arrangements more like what they're used to seeing, which would have given Accolade most of the rights.  That's Stardock's bad for not doing thorough research on this before bidding.

However, PR knew that Atari was selling the SC assets, and that Stardock was paying a fair amount of money for them.  He also knew, or believed, that most of the rights had already returned to him, and that the trademark had plausibly lapsed, such that all Stardock might be buying was a portion of the SC3 rights.  So it seems like he had a pretty good idea that Stardock was bidding or had bid under mistaken assumptions.  Yet PR said nothing to correct this misunderstanding, even when Brad claimed over email that Stardock had bought the SC1&2 distribution rights.  This isn't illegal, but ethically, I think PR should have come forward with what he knew.  Failing to do so just wasn't nice, and it makes me hear Umgah voices cackling about what a great joke this all is.

                 ....waitaminute....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 01, 2018, 06:49:05 pm
I've just dug up a bit of new information, which sparked some new thoughts:

First, I've just noticed that Stardock filed for a service mark on "STAR CONTROL" back in November, and a fresh trademark application in late February.  In my non-lawyer opinion, this substantially bolsters their trademark argument, because it moots the matter of the old trademark having potentially lapsed; even if it had, Stardock was the first to file to reclaim the mark, and can show that they were already producing a game intended to have that name.  If Paul and Fred wanted to keep them from doing this, I think they would have needed to beat Stardock to filing for the trademark.

Given that, I think Paul and Fred need to be very careful to respect Stardock's trademark, including avoiding saying that they are making a sequel to "Star Control".  I notice that their blog has already removed any statement to that effect, instead saying that they are making a sequel to "The Ur-Quan Masters", as well as adding an acknowledgement that "Star Control is a registered trademark of Stardock Systems, Inc", so I think they may realize the situation here and are trying to toe the line.

Finally, I think that Stardock's attempt to register "THE UR-QUAN MASTERS" can only succeed if they demonstrate that they are actually intending to use the Ur-Quan in one of their games, which I don't think they can do because PR has the copyright on the setting.  I think they should give up on this line of attack.

I've updated my original post (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg76832#msg76832) with this information, and additional references.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on March 02, 2018, 02:18:26 am
Finally, I think that Stardock's attempt to register "THE UR-QUAN MASTERS" can only succeed if they demonstrate that they are actually intending to use the Ur-Quan in one of their games, which I don't think they can do because PR has the copyright on the setting.  I think they should give up on this line of attack.
I also thought that P&F already held a trademark to "THE UR-QUAN MASTERS", though I don't remember where I got this idea from. Possibly on their blog, but not sure.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 02, 2018, 02:40:59 am
I also thought that P&F already held a trademark to "THE UR-QUAN MASTERS", though I don't remember where I got this idea from. Possibly on their blog, but not sure.
They do not.  They applied for (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87772787&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) the trademark on January 26, but the trademark office has not yet acted on it.

Though they could, perhaps, claim that they have a common-law trademark via the open-source project.  That seems like a real stretch though; the project was essentially independent of them (though very grateful to them), and never put any (TM) indicator on the phrase to denote intent to reserve it.  Then again, as I noted in another thread (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=6968.msg76922#msg76922), I think Stardock's claim on the phrase is at least as weak.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 19, 2018, 05:59:52 pm
Two new recent developments that I'll note for those interested:

First, a thread on Stardock's forums (https://forums.starcontrol.com/488067/page/1) in which Brad talks about the SC:O "Multiverse".  Some of the content of this thread troubles me.  

One such aspect is that Stardock is advancing the "Multiverse" concept themselves, where their universe ("Prime") is the main universe, and any other Star Control universes (UQM, SC3) are offshoots.  This essentially writes Stardock into the role of final authority over that continuity, putting them in direct conflict with Paul's copyright as the creator of the setting.  I had hopes that Paul might have been persuadable to let Stardock play in a "sub-universe" of his continuity, but it seems like Stardock's concept for the game is such that it can't be easily reconciled with that.

Also, at one point Brad rhetorically asks "And are the Dnyarri lurking within the Origins universe undiscovered or have they built something far worse than in the SC2 universe?".  The Dnyarri are part of the UQM continuity that has not been licensed to Stardock, so to talk about their presence in the Origins universe indicates that Stardock is not avoiding the use of the UQM aliens, posing a further barrier to any possible settlement.

The second major development is a new post by Paul (https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2018/3/18/strange-settlement-on-an-alien-planet), where he indicates that back in early October, Stardock made a number of very unreasonable demands, including:

Quote
For the next 5 years, Fred and Paul do not work on any game similar to the classic Star Control games.

While these terms might have been intended as the opening bid in a negotiation, to me, they seem so unreasonable that they indicate a lack of intent on Stardock's part to settle the case.

So, I would like to hear from Stardock whether it acknowledges making the settlement demands that Paul posted today, and (if so) why they feel that those are reasonable and proportionate to the damage caused by Paul's trademark violations?

Also, some additional trademark registrations by Stardock (h/t to Lakstoties on Reddit):
SUPER-MELEE (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87662697&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Melnorme (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810528&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
VUX (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810526&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Pkunk (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810516&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Ilwrath (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810502&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Chenjesu (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810499&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Androsynth (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810495&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Spathi (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810492&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Syreen (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810486&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Ur-Quan (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810484&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Orz (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810480&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Yehat (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87825741&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)

"SUPER-MELEE" was declined because of an apparent conflict with the "MELEE" brand of bowling ball.  The others are still awaiting assignment to an examiner at this time.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Username on March 19, 2018, 07:14:31 pm
Your original post asked about the 1988 contact.

I believe that this contract was listed in the documents for the Atari bankruptcy filing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 19, 2018, 07:21:12 pm
Your original post asked about the 1988 contact.
I believe that this contract was listed in the documents for the Atari bankruptcy filing.

I haven't been able to find a copy of those documents containing that contract; if you have evidence to that effect, could you post a link?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 19, 2018, 08:47:21 pm
Also, at one point Brad rhetorically asks "And are the Dnyarri lurking within the Origins universe undiscovered or have they built something far worse than in the SC2 universe?".  The Dnyarri are part of the UQM continuity that has not been licensed to Stardock, so to talk about their presence in the Origins universe indicates that Stardock is not avoiding the use of the UQM aliens, posing a further barrier to any possible settlement.

So you read it, but didn't bother to comprehend it.
It was an example of what could be possible not an example of what is actually happening.

Unless you're saying that having a conversation now constitutes an IP conflict?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: uqaccount on March 19, 2018, 09:08:16 pm

Also, some additional trademark registrations by Stardock (h/t to Lakstoties on Reddit):
SUPER-MELEE (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87662697&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Melnorme (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810528&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
VUX (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810526&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Pkunk (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810516&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Ilwrath (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810502&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Chenjesu (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810499&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Androsynth (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810495&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Spathi (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810492&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Syreen (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810486&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Ur-Quan (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810484&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Orz (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810480&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)
Yehat (http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87825741&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch)

"SUPER-MELEE" was declined because of an apparent conflict with the "MELEE" brand of bowling ball.  The others are still awaiting assignment to an examiner at this time.

How strange that he claimed that Stardock does NOT own the classic characters or lore a month ago:


Just to be clear (note, Iím not a lawyer):

Stardock does NOT own the classic characters or lore.  As far as we are aware, Paul and Fred do.  However, the characters, lore, and ships were exclusively licensed, in perpetuity, to Accolade and in turn Atari and then Stardock.

Thus, Stardock could have used them for Star a Control:Origins but didnít for a number of reasons including Paul asking us not to.

But Accolade always owned Star Control. It was always Accoladeís  game. Paul licensed content that made up Star Control (itís not a publishing agreement, itís a licensing agreement) but it was never owned by Paul or Fred.

That doesnít diminish their contributions in the least. But the IP situation, while messy when it comes to the actual characters, is not confusing when it comes to Star Control itself.  The federal and I ternstion trademark rights to the Star Control franchise are owned. Y Stardock. And a trademark is not about the name of the product alone.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on March 19, 2018, 09:11:50 pm
Told you all so.

I mean, look at the demands. This is IP theft. I don't think it is appropriate to defend Stardock on this behavior.

Call them for what they are, opportunists and corrupt. I think they know that without the prior aspects of the IP they can't cash in on nostalgia, which nowadays is a huge market.

Otherwise, why would they care about the old IP aspects of the game? They need it in order to sell their game.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 19, 2018, 09:25:22 pm
Besides the publication by FF and PR, I have seen no proof that this e-mail requests from Stardock are genuine.
But, and that's the thing giving credence, they fit the pattern...


Even if Stardock would get the trademarks, they would still have to go to court if FF and PR use them in GotP.
And that case would be difficult to push in coirt, seeing how much earlier FF and PR have been using these creatures....


Brutal tactic to delay FF and PR's game.
I would've spent money on both, now I'll buy Origins only once GotP is out, by which time I'll get origins on the discount table, or even used...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 19, 2018, 09:53:16 pm
Told you all so.

I mean, look at the demands. This is IP theft. I don't think it is appropriate to defend Stardock on this behavior.

Call them for what they are, opportunists and corrupt. I think they know that without the prior aspects of the IP they can't cash in on nostalgia, which nowadays is a huge market.

Otherwise, why would they care about the old IP aspects of the game? They need it in order to sell their game.


Nice of you to only join the conversation when it suits your agenda.

Besides the publication by FF and PR, I have seen no proof that this e-mail requests from Stardock are genuine.
But, and that's the thing giving credence, they fit the pattern...

Stick with the first sentence. Brad will pop in here eventually with the full, unedited emails. That is, if he feels like it.
I've read them, the other Founders have read them, but I'm not going to post them here behind his back.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 19, 2018, 09:56:36 pm
Reply from frogboy on the Stardock forums:

https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/get;3707702 (https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/get;3707702) (reply # 87, not sure how to link it directly)


Thing is, if I follow the actions, not the words, then that makes Stardock look even more worse that it makes FF and PR look.
Trying to tell the world you will not hamper a new game, and yet go to court and try to make the creators look like mere employees putting someone elses ideas into a game....
Claiming the trademarks for figures which you officially do not want to use for your game... And for which you previously acknowledged you have no IP rights.
It,feels like Stardock finally realizes, that the trademark simply isn't worth much, and they're trying to squeeze what they can.

I also fear that the result will be, that in the end even a fan-created Origins-universe of UQM will not be permissible.
So a loss all around for all parties.




FF and PR announced a sequel to close some open questions (and likely create more open questions).
We still do not know the scope of their project. Whether it'll be close to the scope of the original SC2 project, or a full blown modern game.
With all this happening, we'll have to wait longer, which also does not reflect well on Stardock for me.
And that also shows on the Stardock forums.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 19, 2018, 09:58:38 pm
Also, at one point Brad rhetorically asks "And are the Dnyarri lurking within the Origins universe undiscovered or have they built something far worse than in the SC2 universe?".  The Dnyarri are part of the UQM continuity that has not been licensed to Stardock, so to talk about their presence in the Origins universe indicates that Stardock is not avoiding the use of the UQM aliens, posing a further barrier to any possible settlement.

So you read it, but didn't bother to comprehend it.
It was an example of what could be possible not an example of what is actually happening.

Unless you're saying that having a conversation now constitutes an IP conflict?

It doesn't, of course, but I think their multiverse concept is still problematic, for two reasons.  First, the sense I had from that thread was that the various universes had at least some amount of shared history.  Other than using Earth's real history to date, I don't think they can do that without stepping on Paul's copyright.  Second, it's akin to saying "In *my* universe, there are these beings called Precursors, and they made gates to other universes, and through one of these gates, there's an evil Empire with a Death Star that was destroyed by a Rebellion with X-Wing fighters."  It's trying to subsume Paul's UQM universe continuity into the SC:O multiverse's continuity, and I don't think that's likely to pass copyright scrutiny.  Of course, I doubt this exact situation has come up before in litigation, which makes the outcome both less predictable and more likely to take a long time.  :-(


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on March 19, 2018, 10:19:07 pm
I don't know a lot about this, but seems to me like maybe Stardock started working on SC origins, without realizing that they might be infringing on FF and PR's intellectual property rights. Now, FF and PR feel like they have, but Stardock has invested a lot of money in this and has had lots of people working on this project. Most of the people working on SC origins probably didn't know anything about that they might be infringing on somebody else's intellectual property rights.

I know about a PhD student in organic chemistry, that was ordered by his professor to synthesize a molecule. After he had finished, he figured out that one of the professor's previous students had synthesized the same molecule in the same way 15 years earlier without publishing it. But the previous student had proof.

I hope that maybe SC origins can make some kind of agreement with FF and PR which allows them to use some aspects from SC2, since this seems to be so important to SC origins. Maybe they could give some percentage of the sale to FF and PR in compensation for using their intellectual property?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 19, 2018, 11:27:47 pm
I also fear that the result will be, that in the end even a fan-created Origins-universe of UQM will not be permissible.
So a loss all around for all parties.

That won't happen, UQM is under GPL2 and the assets are under Creative Commons.
So as long as those licenses aren't broken people can do what they want.

Let them try to stop me from doing it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 12:19:50 am
UQM is under GPL2 and the assets are under Creative Commons.
So as long as those licenses aren't broken people can do what they want.

Let them try to stop me from doing it.

There is still some danger.  If Stardock were to win the trademarks it has applied for (All the alien names, plus "SUPER-MELEE"), UQM would have to remove all references to those names; the GPL/CC only applies to copyright claims, not trademarks.  Additionally, some of the arguments in Stardock's original brief, if upheld, would mean that Paul&Fred never had the right to release the code to form the UQM project in the first place, which could force the entire project to shut down.

But while non-zero, I think the odds of this are very low.  The copyright arguments appear to have been made in ignorance of the Accolade contract, and I don't think they can get the trademarks given that UQM has been using them for so long uncontested.

But litigation is unpredictable; it depends a lot of whether the judge and jury have a clue, and on whose lawyer happens to be more convincing to them.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 20, 2018, 12:46:08 am
UQM is under GPL2 and the assets are under Creative Commons.
So as long as those licenses aren't broken people can do what they want.

Let them try to stop me from doing it.

There is still some danger.  If Stardock were to win the trademarks it has applied for (All the alien names, plus "SUPER-MELEE"), UQM would have to remove all references to those names; the GPL/CC only applies to copyright claims, not trademarks.  Additionally, some of the arguments in Stardock's original brief, if upheld, would mean that Paul&Fred never had the right to release the code to form the UQM project in the first place, which could force the entire project to shut down.

But while non-zero, I think the odds of this are very low.  The copyright arguments appear to have been made in ignorance of the Accolade contract, and I don't think they can get the trademarks given that UQM has been using them for so long uncontested.

But litigation is unpredictable; it depends a lot of whether the judge and jury have a clue, and on whose lawyer happens to be more convincing to them.

Brad wouldn't allow any of that to happen. If Stardock got hold of the rights to UQM he would keep it GPL'd and open source as it is.
He has the power of veto here and he could have stopped the lawyers before any of this went down.

But P&F personally & publicly attacked him with a hired PR firm. So as it stands P&F are going to be buried in this for many years to come and
no amount of bitchy blog posts will help them win anything. They essentially committed suicide by lawyer.

Personally I would take anything that Paul & Fred say with a grain of salt.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on March 20, 2018, 01:52:04 am
Brad wouldn't allow any of that to happen. If Stardock got hold of the rights to UQM he would keep it GPL'd and open source as it is.
He has the power of veto here and he could have stopped the lawyers before any of this went down.

While I don't necessarily agree with Serosis on everything, I think he's right here.

If Stardock (or anyone else) wants the rights to these IPs for the purposes of commercializing them it would likely be to a significant degree to benefit from the nostalgia of old fans (otherwise why not just make a completely new IP?).  Demolishing the hard work of the UQM community would just piss off the market that they would be most likely to target, all for very little benefit (the ability to sell a more than 20 year old game)?

It doesn't seem a likely move even if you make them out to be an evil faceless corporation.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 03:00:59 am
Brad wouldn't allow any of that to happen. If Stardock got hold of the rights to UQM he would keep it GPL'd and open source as it is.
He has the power of veto here and he could have stopped the lawyers before any of this went down.

While I don't necessarily agree with Serosis on everything, I think he's right here.

If Stardock (or anyone else) wants the rights to these IPs for the purposes of commercializing them it would likely be to a significant degree to benefit from the nostalgia of old fans (otherwise why not just make a completely new IP?).  Demolishing the hard work of the UQM community would just piss off the market that they would be most likely to target, all for very little benefit (the ability to sell a more than 20 year old game)?

It doesn't seem a likely move even if you make them out to be an evil faceless corporation.

I think you're right wrt Brad, but sometimes you need to make pessimistic assumptions.  Look at all of the open-source projects that Sun was supporting, and what Oracle did to them after buying Sun.  Who is to say what would happen if EA were to buy Stardock?

A GPL release from Stardock could settle the copyright issues, but I'm not sure that's possible with trademarks.  At a minimum, Stardock would have to demand trademark acknowledgement anywhere those names are used.  Any UQM maintainers would just have to decide if they were willing to invest their time in the project, given their evaluation of the legal risk.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 04:25:52 am
I will add, for any that were following my posts on the Stardock forums, that Brad has revoked my posting access there, so any further analysis/commentary I do will be either here or on Reddit.

Just on the off-chance that anyone cares. :-P


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 20, 2018, 05:15:38 am
I care, you're a voice of reason there, and that they'd shut you down is not a good sign.

I'll note in passing that Kavik Kang's rant about Star Fleet Battles is totally off base.  SC's supermelee is a ripoff of Spacewar, which predates SFB by decades - Spacewar was in fact the first video game ever made, for the first iteration they used an oscilloscope as a display because monitors didn't exist yet. 

I've read through Brad's replies in that thread including #87 and
1) my question to him about "are they not even allowed to mention that they worked on the title" has never been answered; the only way to meet the standard he seems to be insisting on would be exactly that - that they can never, ever use the words "Star Control" in any context.  I very seriously doubt a court is going to uphold that; the references to the product would definitely seem (to me) to fall in the territory of fair use.  There IS the question of proximity to Origins' release and the court might rap their knuckles for that, but not much more
2) the trademark filing for all the alien names is a fairly obvious "go for the throat" legal maneuver, but it's also one I think is very unlikely to be supported in a court.  Stardock has never had any claim to those and has admitted it doesn't on multiple occasions; those statements are going to be brought up
3) I find his claims in those posts - that people aren't noting the order of events - to be unpersuasive.

Based on what I have seen so far, the picture I am seeing is:
- P&F have clear rights to the IP in all the original games.  Those games cannot be distributed without their agreement; Stardock's attempt to do so was a clear transgression. The IP cannot be used without their agreement.  No rights to the IP or anything in it were sold in the Atari auction.  Any trademark claims by Stardock to anything in the IP are without merit.
- Stardock has rights to the words "Star Control".  P&F should not have used those words in advertising a product.

I could be wrong.  Courts interpret laws in ways that make no sense to ordinary people on a regular basis.  But we'll see.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 20, 2018, 05:35:25 am
I will add, for any that were following my posts on the Stardock forums, that Brad has revoked my posting access there, so any further analysis/commentary I do will be either here or on Reddit.

Just on the off-chance that anyone cares. :-P

That is so sad to hear that Brad actually silenced you considering you made the most reasonable argument in that entire thread.

I wouldn't be surprised if I get banned as well considering Stardock has completely lost me with their absurd settlement demands.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 05:39:58 am
The court ordered settlement conference is confidential. Iím not sure which is worse, that theyíve illsted it or misrepresented it. But itís not something I can discuss.

I will say that once they filed to try to cancel our Star Control mark, which is the legal equivalent of going for the throat, all bets were off.

If Paul and Fred had actually stuck to the first paragraph they mentioned in their rant, we wouldnít be here today. But they obviously didnít.

The legal case will likely cost, as they say, millions of dollars and go over years. Iíve been through these before. Never quite anything this strange but we are confident of the outcome.  Weíll know presumably by 2020.

Iíd rather it had been worked out prior to lawyers. Lawsuits are ugly things, they are best avoided.

Paul hangs out here, he is welcome to post his rationale for immediately violating their proposal and flagrant violations of confidentiality. He could even post the entire email chain here if heíd like rather tha the cherry picked snippets, like the multiple times I offered to talk by phone and how they, not us, brought in lawyers first.  

Itís easy to send out one-sided smears and not be around to respond on them. The problem, imo, is that they keep escalating things and seem shocked that there are consequences for doing so.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 05:50:23 am
I will add, for any that were following my posts on the Stardock forums, that Brad has revoked my posting access there, so any further analysis/commentary I do will be either here or on Reddit.

Just on the off-chance that anyone cares. :-P

That is so sad to hear that Brad actually silenced you considering you made the most reasonable argument in that entire thread.

I wouldn't be surprised if I get banned as well considering Stardock has completely lost me with their absurd settlement demands.

You wouldnít be banned. Neither was E. But as I said to Elestan, if he wants to play Internet lawyer, he can do so here or on Reddit.  Only a very small percentage of the facts are publicly available. And what is available is mostly been tortured of context.

Frankly, from a sanity point of view, I need one forum I can talk about THE game that is actually being made without my blood boiling due to moral equivalence arguments. 



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 05:52:21 am
I care, you're a voice of reason there, and that they'd shut you down is not a good sign.

Apparently Brad felt my analysis was off-base.  He could be right; we need to keep in mind that there's a lot we're not seeing, and as I've said a number of times, I'm Not A Lawyer.  But, I'm doing the best I can, based on the publicly-available information that has been revealed so far.

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1) my question to him about "are they not even allowed to mention that they worked on the title" has never been answered; the only way to meet the standard he seems to be insisting on would be exactly that - that they can never, ever use the words "Star Control" in any context.  I very seriously doubt a court is going to uphold that; the references to the product would definitely seem (to me) to fall in the territory of fair use.  There IS the question of proximity to Origins' release and the court might rap their knuckles for that, but not much more

I would be careful with the term 'fair use'.  That's a specifically-defined legal term that only applies as a defense against copyright infringement, not trademark infringement.  While I suspect that there are ways to use a trademarked phrase without legal risk (like if you're not trying to use it in commerce), that wiggle-room gets much less available when you're a direct competitor talking about a competing product.  If I were Paul or Fred, I wouldn't say the phrase "Star Control" in public without my lawyer's approval.

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2) the trademark filing for all the alien names is a fairly obvious "go for the throat" legal maneuver, but it's also one I think is very unlikely to be supported in a court.  Stardock has never had any claim to those and has admitted it doesn't on multiple occasions; those statements are going to be brought up

I agree there.  Since P&F are using personal resources for this, not Toys4Bob resources, it could be part of an attrition strategy; it does make extra work and legal fees for them.

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3) I find his claims in those posts - that people aren't noting the order of events - to be unpersuasive.

Yeah, I'm not sure what he meant there.  I was specifically asking about the order of events - whether P&F had made a move against Stardock's trademark before Stardock's suit was filed.  I'm also not sure what he means by "They had no copyright to cancel".  It sounds like he's saying that he doesn't think that P&F's copyright on the setting is valid.  Which would be a powerful claim, if there's a basis to make it.  But I haven't seen a reason to doubt Paul's copyright so far in the publicly available documents.

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Based on what I have seen so far, the picture I am seeing is:
- P&F have clear rights to the IP in all the original games.  Those games cannot be distributed without their agreement; Stardock's attempt to do so was a clear transgression. The IP cannot be used without their agreement.  No rights to the IP or anything in it were sold in the Atari auction.  Any trademark claims by Stardock to anything in the IP are without merit.

I'll poke two things there:

First, SC3 was a hybrid beast.  The best I can tell, Paul owns the copyright to the SC2 elements that were used in it, while Stardock owns the copyright on all the new elements that were added.  

Second, I'm not sure how trademark and copyright law interact here.  I wouldn't think that you could trademark something that someone else has copyright on, but this is one of those places where I wouldn't bet on my own knowledge.

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- Stardock has rights to the words "Star Control".  P&F should not have used those words in advertising a product.

Yep.

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I could be wrong.  Courts interpret laws in ways that make no sense to ordinary people on a regular basis.  But we'll see.

Very true.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 06:16:46 am
Part of your problem is that you keep stating g things that have no basis in fact.

What, specifically, does Paul own?

Does he own the music?

Does he own the art? The alien artistic design?

The alien dialog?

Please feel free to find the copyright filing by Paul and these things.

What I do know is Stardock has no ownership rights in the licensed content in SC2 but that doesnít magically confer rights to Paul.

Is Paul going to claim Rikuís somgs? Or Erolís art?


The order of events:

PF propose that each game differentiate based on respective rights. Fair enough.

They violate that a week later knowing exactly what they were doing. Did they associate Ghosts with Star Control II? If
 Yes, they lose. Did they do it on purposes? If yes, there are statutory damages.

Then you have months of them attacking us from their blog.

Then they file the DMCA notices to Steam and GOG.

Then Stardock files a complaint about their trademark infringement which they respond by, amongst other things, demanding our trademark be canceled.

After that, yes, Stardock is going to be very aggressive.  

Iíve gone from being a super fan to just incredibly disappointed with Paul and Fred.






Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 06:20:48 am
You wouldnít be banned. Neither was E. But as I said to Elestan, if he wants to play Internet lawyer, he can do so here or on Reddit.

Just to be clear, I no longer have an option to post on any Stardock forums.  I presume Brad means that you won't be banned for disagreement, but only for "internet lawyering".

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Only a very small percentage of the facts are publicly available. And what is available is mostly been tortured of context.

I just do my best with what's available, knowing that I don't have the whole picture.  You've said that you don't think I understand the law very well, and that may be true - I invite you to correct me on any point of fact or law that you're allowed to speak on.

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Frankly, from a sanity point of view, I need one forum I can talk about THE game that is actually being made without my blood boiling due to moral equivalence arguments.

Please understand that I'm still assuming mostly good faith on both sides, because based on the publicly-available information, neither side has yet reached the point where I would stop doing so.  It could be that if we knew all the information you have that we don't, we'd see things differently, but that's not the case.  Currently, I have some concerns that Paul may have kept his IP claims hidden without a good reason to do so.  But I also have concerns about Stardock filing for trademarks that could be used against this project.  Those seem like offensive legal weapons, not defensive ones, and this project is within their blast radius.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 06:38:17 am
That assumption of good faith is where I believe we part ways. People of good faith donít simultaneously violate confidentiality and misrepresent the facts. You can expect Stardock to be very aggressive going forward.

Also, I did restore your posting. I just donít want to read internet lawyering on my own forum nor a I going to litigate a case on a public forum or devulge on going legal strategy.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 20, 2018, 07:57:21 am
People also have to remember that, aside from the Stardock lawyers, that there is a man behind this game (SC:Origins) who has been pouring his heart and soul into it.
Brad may be the CEO but that doesn't make him any less human.

It's evidence enough that he gets close to a breaking point every now and then but I don't see Paul or Fred coming onto any forum trying to talk some sense into the litigation.
Somebody who claimed to be Paul left a cryptic "We're watching from the shadows" type post using a brand new account, which I find highly suspect since Fred himself has
a profile and has used it as recent as 2015. And I know Death 999 would help him get his profile back if he lost his password as he has done for me in the past.

People give P&F too much credit when all they've done thus far is take pot-shots from the sidelines.
Hiring PR firms to personally attack Brad and even falsifying then releasing confidential court documents.

I guess my point is, P&F may have helped create The Ur-Quan Masters, but that doesn't give them allowance to be infallible.
If you cast doubt on Stardock then you must also cast doubt on P&F because they sure haven't been the hapless victims in all of this.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 08:03:22 am
What, specifically, does Paul own?

Does he own the music? Does he own the art? The alien artistic design? The alien dialog?

The code, to my understanding, was Fred's, so he would own that.  Paul's notebook seems to show the origins of many of the races, ships, and other elements of the setting, giving him a pretty good claim on them - and those would be the most important ones for any sequel.  For the rest, the question is whether there was a copyright assignment/work-for-hire arrangement from the original author to Paul.  If you're saying that there was no such assignment, you could have a point; in that case, the original artists/composers would own those copyrights.

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Please feel free to find the copyright filing by Paul and these things.

To my understanding, you don't need to file to have a copyright; it's automatic for any creative work you make.  However, you do need to file to prosecute an infringement claim, so if you're saying that Paul never filed his copyright, that would invalidate his DMCA action and his copyright claims - at least until he filed the copyright; I believe it can be done retroactively.

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The order of events:

PF propose that each game differentiate based on respective rights. Fair enough.

They violate that a week later knowing exactly what they were doing. Did they associate Ghosts with Star Control II? If
 Yes, they lose. Did they do it on purposes? If yes, there are statutory damages.

Agreed.  The tension on this point, from me and from others, is that we're not convinced that any actual damages from their infringement are very large - I think that if they had omitted the use of the "Star Control" mark from their announcement, it would have had almost the exact same effect, because all of the journalists and fans of the original game would still put the same story together.  So Stardock's claims of suffering great injury from it just aren't persuasive to me; I think that they deserve some punishment, yes, but certainly not as much as this legal case is going to cost.

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Then you have months of them attacking us from their blog.

Up through this stage, I don't think their arguments were all that persuasive - certainly not to me.  I and others were saying that they should stop with the public comments and just negotiate with you.  I think Stardock came out ahead in this stage of the public relations fight just by staying quiet.

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Then they file the DMCA notices to Steam and GOG.

Based on my reading of the Accolade agreement, if they had registered their copyright, this was within their rights to do.  If Atari's distribution agreement had ended, either prior to the sale, or by its bankruptcy triggering that special license termination clause, then Stardock had no right to sell the old games - including SC3, because even SC3 used the old SC2 races, and therefore needed a license.  But equally importantly, Paul and Fred could not offer them on Steam/GoG either, because the games are called "Star Control", and that's your trademark.  So my understanding on this is that neither of you should be able to sell any of the old games without the permission of the other.

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Then Stardock files a complaint about their trademark infringement which they respond by, amongst other things, demanding our trademark be canceled.

So, I haven't heard anyone have a serious problem with Stardock's trademark enforcement action.  But your filing included a lot of other extra assertions about Paul and Fred not creating things - and I know we had a conversation about "Star Control" the game vs. "Star Control" the product identity, but most people credit Paul and Fred with the creation of the game that Accolade called "Star Control".  Perhaps these assertions were there because your lawyer felt they were good legal strategy, and maybe they were.  But this is where I think Stardock started to lose public support, because to the layman, it stopped sounding like Stardock was trying to get just compensation for P&F's trademark infringement, and started sounding like it was making a broadside attack on their IP rights.

Trying to invalidate the "Star Control" trademark was actually something that had been talked about on these boards before.  A trademark that isn't used for (I believe) three years can be considered abandoned, and that happened during the gap between when SC3 sales stopped, and when the games got put up on GoG.  For self-interested reasons, I think most people here were hoping that would happen - as fond as we are of UQM, we'd love to call it "Star Control".  But now that Stardock is actively producing a Star Control game, I think the trademark is back to strength, and I doubt that any attack on it will succeed.

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After that, yes, Stardock is going to be very aggressive.

Well, that's your right - but if you want to avoid a boycott from the old fans (the Reddit conversations are starting to head that way), I think it's important to still sound like you're trying to be reasonable, and not vindictive.  For me, 'reasonable' on Stardock's part would mean fining Paul and Fred for your actual damages suffered from their infringement (plus statutory penalties, if any).  But it does not include trying to get rights to use the SC2 setting, unless your lawyer has found a loophole in the Accolade contract.  It also doesn't include getting trademarks on phrases and races that could be used to threaten the UQM project, or keep P&F from making GotP.

So, this has been a long post.  It's my best summary of how I currently view the dispute based on the public information.  I can't say that I speak for anyone, but I think that most others are relatively close to this.  If you can make any factual corrections, I would welcome them as always.  I do realize that being under a gag order puts you in a difficult position, and I assume that the court will sanction P&F if/when they break the rules.

And if Paul and Fred read this, I'd ask them to try to keep trying to stay reasonable as well.  If there's a gag rule, don't break it.  And if Stardock wants to use some minimal setting elements...please at least consider it.  Stardock appears to have genuinely wanted to empower you to make a new Star Control; their offer to sell the mark at cost is evidence of that, even if they overpaid for it.  And now they have a bunch of sunk costs that they might not have sunk, if you had clarified your IP claims earlier.  Try to enable them to make their game, while you go and make yours.  You have smart fans.  We read comic books.  We can understand multiple continuities.  We won't be confused if they have Precursors in their game.  Honest!


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Kaiser on March 20, 2018, 08:26:59 am
Brutal tactic to delay FF and PR's game.
I would've spent money on both, now I'll buy Origins only once GotP is out, by which time I'll get origins on the discount table, or even used...
The game they've had 25 years to work on?

But I'm sure Stardock's lawyers will thank you for this comment.  You're proving the damage that F&P are doing to sales.  You've implied before you intended to buy, but the actions of Paul and Fred have changed that.  You're literally the embodiment of the reason this lawsuit's been brought up.

We won't be confused if they have Precursors in their game.  Honest!

Especially since Precursors are a huge fantasy/sci-fi trope? 


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 08:58:00 am
Brutal tactic to delay FF and PR's game.
I would've spent money on both, now I'll buy Origins only once GotP is out, by which time I'll get origins on the discount table, or even used...
The game they've had 25 years to work on?

My understanding is they couldn't.  Their company was bought by Activision, and Activision kept them working on Skylanders.

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But I'm sure Stardock's lawyers will thank you for this comment.  You're proving the damage that F&P are doing to sales.  You've implied before you intended to buy, but the actions of Paul and Fred have changed that.
He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he's saying that Stardock's actions changed his mind.  F&P aren't liable for damage Stardock does to its own reputation.

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We won't be confused if they have Precursors in their game.  Honest!
Especially since Precursors are a huge fantasy/sci-fi trope?

Sure, that too.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on March 20, 2018, 09:14:29 am
Does he own the art? The alien artistic design?

Well, at least some of it, and he might be able to prove that from his old notebooks.  But I don't necessarily think he is going to be able to prove that all the aliens are based upon his art work. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the court settles on making you the legal owner of some aliens, while making PR the legal owner of other aliens. That would split the SC universe....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 20, 2018, 09:26:01 am
He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he's saying that Stardock's actions changed his mind.  F&P aren't liable for damage Stardock does to its own reputation.

The information that Ghosts was held back directly because of Stardock could be falsified.

P&F could create it and release it but the only thing holding it back is themselves.

Remember, Brad was the one who was excited enough to post the announcement of Ghosts here himself.
He wanted Ghosts just as much as any of us.

Ghosts is vaporware at this point until we hear otherwise, but it sure seems like P&F want people to think they can't work on it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 20, 2018, 10:03:37 am
So, this has been a long post.  It's my best summary of how I currently view the dispute based on the public information.  I can't say that I speak for anyone, but I think that most others are relatively close to this.  If you can make any factual corrections, I would welcome them as always.  I do realize that being under a gag order puts you in a difficult position, and I assume that the court will sanction P&F if/when they break the rules.

And if Paul and Fred read this, I'd ask them to try to keep trying to stay reasonable as well.  If there's a gag rule, don't break it.  And if Stardock wants to use some minimal setting elements...please at least consider it.  Stardock appears to have genuinely wanted to empower you to make a new Star Control; their offer to sell the mark at cost is evidence of that, even if they overpaid for it.  And now they have a bunch of sunk costs that they might not have sunk, if you had clarified your IP claims earlier.  Try to enable them to make their game, while you go and make yours.  You have smart fans.  We read comic books.  We can understand multiple continuities.  We won't be confused if they have Precursors in their game.  Honest!
You are very close to my position. Thank You for summarizing it so well.


FF and PR have so far only stated, that they now finally can find some time to make a continuation of the story they started in "Star Control II"  "The Ur-Quan Masters[/i]".
I'm purposefully using the trademarked name, as the game was created and marketed under that name. As such, the use of the trademarked name Star Control is purely factual and difficult to object to.
The issue I had when reading the announcement was the addition of "true sequel". They meant "true continuation of the original storyline" (thus omitting the botched SC3 attempt), but it can be interpreted as being the only sequel to the Star Control trademarked games, which thanks to unluckily split rights is not true.
What FF and PR further stated, is that they still have to work out the story they want to put into the new game.
And the scope of the project and the targeted audience. A real small Indy game just enough to satisfy the old fans. Or a fully blown modern game appealing to all gamers, new and old alike.
The scope will matter a lot later on too. If the target are just us "old" fans, and the UQM fans, then the project will remain having only a minor impact, as such a game would likely have only a limited financial interest for the developers.
But the intended scope is unknown, likely even to PR and FF themselves.
And as the whole original development has shown, it may blow up from a modest game to the fully blown experience we enjoyed just within the last 6 months, while the developers are hiding away in Alaska.
But now, any court action must and will be done considering a fully commercial interest. Which blows up lawyer and court fees. And potential damages.


But the fact that Stardock tried to devalue the IP claims of FF and PR, and filed for trademarks obviously not belonging to anything Stardock could have a right to, made Stardock overly aggressive in my opinion, and devalued their original grievances.
As such, I have little empathy left for Stardock.
But I also have less empathy for FF and PR, because what I get to read from them seems to be very much edited.
I had that feeling before Serosis hinted at the "full mails" having been published on the Stardock Starcontrol forums, but his hint just strenghtened the belief.

Neither side is a winner. The only winners will be the lawyers.


So far though, I have the slight feeling that Stardock did acknowledge quite some rights of FF and PR. The new game (Origins) uses "fleet battle" instead of "Super-Melee", and it refrains from using Star Control II intelectual property. And that Atari previously acknowledged they transgressed FF and PR's rights when they published on GoG.
But Stardock seems to have chosen to go for the financial attrition route. They seem to have more money than I would've credited them for, doing these broadside attacks.
Just keep on attacking, and at some point the defence will cumble due to a lack of money.
Which I also find makind Stardock even less desireable.
Which will mean I will have to find a way to make my old floppies run instead of simply buying GoG SC1 again (which would send money to Stardock AND PR/FF).


Brutal tactic to delay FF and PR's game.
I would've spent money on both, now I'll buy Origins only once GotP is out, by which time I'll get origins on the discount table, or even used...
The game they've had 25 years to work on?

My understanding is they couldn't.  Their company was bought by Activision, and Activision kept them working on Skylanders.

But I'm sure Stardock's lawyers will thank you for this comment.  You're proving the damage that F&P are doing to sales.  You've implied before you intended to buy, but the actions of Paul and Fred have changed that.
He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he's saying that Stardock's actions changed his mind.  F&P aren't liable for damage Stardock does to its own reputation.
Exactly. The filing of new trademark requests which are unrelated to Star Control: Origins.
The belittling of the design work done by FF and PR.

I wanted to buy both games each one once it is published.
With what I know now, I'll be saving the SC:O money because I do not want to reward Stardock for their behaviour towards the original creators and designers of Star Control and Star Control II.
(Which means I'll be boycotting the game - despite looking forward to SC:O.)

Ghosts is vaporware at this point until we hear otherwise, but it sure seems like P&F want people to think they can't work on it.
Well, if they have to crawl through attics finding old contracts so that they can prove their claims, that means the same amount of time less to think about the new story...





Also, should we move/rename the UQM main project side? It's just using an abbreviation, but one that one is starting to be uncomfortably close to the battleground, IMHO.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 20, 2018, 10:41:54 am
With what I know now

To be brutally honest we don't know anything more than what P&F have spoon-fed us through their blog posts.
And the more they keep "informing" us in this manner the more I'm skeptical of their true intentions.

Well, if they have to crawl through attics finding old contracts so that they can prove their claims, that means the same amount of time less to think about the new story...
They wouldn't have had to do any of this if they had simply acquiesced to calling the game a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters and politely asking Stardock to take the games down from Steam/GOG.
They had their chance to be civil.

Also, should we move/rename the UQM main project side? It's just using an abbreviation, but one that one is starting to be uncomfortably close to the battleground, IMHO.

No, UQM is not under fire nor will it ever be.

Though I would be more concerned about the forum banner using the 3DO box art.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 20, 2018, 11:26:40 am
Hiring PR firms to personally attack Brad and even falsifying then releasing confidential court documents.

What specifically are you referring to here?


But I'm sure Stardock's lawyers will thank you for this comment.  You're proving the damage that F&P are doing to sales.  You've implied before you intended to buy, but the actions of Paul and Fred have changed that. 

No.  The perception of Stardock's actions has changed that.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on March 20, 2018, 11:59:43 am
You can expect Stardock to be very aggressive going forward.

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"
It's just going to hurt everyone involved (and anyone caught in the blast radius).

That said, my morbid curiosity means I am now dying to know the actual legal status of the IP...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 20, 2018, 12:40:26 pm
With what I know now

To be brutally honest we don't know anything more than what P&F have spoon-fed us through their blog posts.
And the more they keep "informing" us in this manner the more I'm skeptical of their true intentions.
Same is true for the other side. And so far, the court documents have reinforced the claims made by FF and PR more than they've reinforced the additional claims by Stardock, IMHO.

I've changed my opinion whether I'll be buying once. If the available information changes, I may change again.

But anyway, I'm happy I stayed true to my general principle of not pre-ordering (and pre-paying) games, or "buying" "early access" (or similar) for SC:O.
I'm old fashioned with regard to "first the goods, then the money".
Although I've always said I'll make an exception if FF and PR ever make a continuation of their story.



Also, should we move/rename the UQM main project side? It's just using an abbreviation, but one that one is starting to be uncomfortably close to the battleground, IMHO.

No, UQM is not under fire nor will it ever be.

Though I would be more concerned about the forum banner using the 3DO box art.
Yes, that banner too.

But I', not so sure about UQM being outside the line of fire.
The moment someone started to claim the trademarks for "Ur-Quan Masters", "Ur-Quan", "VUX", "Spathi", "Yehat", ..., that changed.
It'll be hard for someone to actually win a court case against this project, but then I fear nobody will step up to defend this project in court if push comes to shove.
The project has no money, so it cannot defend itself in court.
And I know I would not put myself in the line of fire to defend it with my resources.

Hence, the project would, through lack of defence, disappear, after everybody downloaded as much as he could.
The project would shift underground, but there would be no more central point to coordinate it.

And I saw Stardock's claim on reddit, that they did this to protect the UQM project. [edit: correction] did this to secure any possible donation to the project they might want to make in the future[/edit:correction].
But companies are known to change their mind.
Like Stardock did after first stating that "FF and PR own the copyrights to all characters in Star Control II", and now claiming that they were chef-designers at best, and some other artists owns the copyright.
(Which would make an even larger mess out of the current IP mess. Then nobody would be able to continue with this story, as it would be very hard to get all agreements from everybody involved to continue. At least until after expiry of copyrights. Which will be well beyond my lifetime.)


edited to add:
the comment I alluded to:
Quote from: draginol_on_reddit_(Stardock_CEO)
The concern was that Paul and Fred would begin trademarking it and use that as leverage against Stardock and place barriers between Stardock's many time stated goal (since 2013) of supporting the UQM project as a Lanham act violation (you'll need to read that to understand as I am not a lawyer).

Short version: Stardock wants to be able to send more Star Control related assets to the UQM community in the future (like release the Star Control III source code, which we own and future Star Control Origins tools and content) without fear that Paul and Fred would claim we are creating "confusion" by doing so.
(source: https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/8120uu/star_control_legal_issues_megathread/dv0rzt5/ (https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/8120uu/star_control_legal_issues_megathread/dv0rzt5/))

(Lanham act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanham_Act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanham_Act): the law-enacting act laying the foundations for trademarks in the US, named after the leading representative)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 20, 2018, 01:05:10 pm
Followed Elestan from the Stardock forums - it was pretty clear my days there would be numbered too if I continued to challenge the Stardock narrative. I pretty much agree with Elestan's analysis, Paul could been clearer when he declined to buy 'what Stardock owned'. Still, Stardock's behaviour has been unjustifiably aggressive from pretty early on - P&F aren't the creators of Star Control, even when the copyright notice in the game literally names them?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 20, 2018, 01:52:26 pm
Followed Elestan from the Stardock forums - it was pretty clear my days there would be numbered too if I continued to challenge the Stardock narrative. I pretty much agree with Elestan's analysis, Paul could been clearer when he declined to buy 'what Stardock owned'. Still, Stardock's behaviour has been unjustifiably aggressive from pretty early on - P&F aren't the creators of Star Control, even when the copyright notice in the game literally names them?
Stardock was fairly civil at the start, but once P&F started demanding to take out anything that resembles SC2 in SCO (like Super-Melee) that's when Stardock started getting aggressive. Brad is pretty adamant at preserving the work he and his team put into SCO including the bits P&F wanted removed (addressing it as "protecting the livelihood of Stardock's employees" in several posts now).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 02:06:27 pm
Stardock supports the UQM project and will be donating the SC3 source once the legal mess is over.

As for the litigation, layers escalate things. Thatís why itís better for people to work things out on their own. Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

I donít know what is worse, that they violated the confidentiality of settlement talks or that they so misrepresented it, in either case, we are legally forbidden (as were they) from discussing it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 20, 2018, 02:40:34 pm
\Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

That does not seem to be a reasonable reading of what Elestan wrote. Unless you're oddly claiming that you're the only side to escalate, or that when you escalated it was anything but gradual?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: d00dz on March 20, 2018, 02:43:58 pm
Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

Sounds to me more like you are twisting Elestan's statements to bolster your narrative.

Quote
As for the litigation, layers escalate things. Thatís why itís better for people to work things out on their own.

Yeah, blame the lawyers. Pretty sure everything goes to you for approval first.

Good luck milking the Star Control trademark now when you have all but alienated a good chunk of the Star Control community. You certainly threw all that good will down the gutter. Much of the value of the brand was only pretty much the resonance with the older players.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 02:57:13 pm
\Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

That does not seem to be a reasonable reading of what Elestan wrote. Unless you're oddly claiming that you're the only side to escalate, or that when you escalated it was anything but gradual?

Thatís certainly how it appeared here.  First, they announce Ghosts and associatizte it with SC. Then they begin making public attacks on Stardock.  Then they file DMCA notices.  What escalation was Stardock doing?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 03:13:04 pm
Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

Sounds to me more like you are twisting Elestan's statements to bolster your narrative.

Quote
As for the litigation, layers escalate things. Thatís why itís better for people to work things out on their own.

Yeah, blame the lawyers. Pretty sure everything goes to you for approval first.

Good luck milking the Star Control trademark now when you have all but alienated a good chunk of the Star Control community. You certainly threw all that good will down the gutter. Much of the value of the brand was only pretty much the resonance with the older
players.

Youíve had an account here for an hour. And that was your first post.  So what community are you speaking for?

All Stardock has been doing, for four years, is making a new Star Control game.  And we have spent that 4 years also trying to be respectful to Paul and Fred including not using the aliens from SC2 in the new game even though, as has been said, our position was we had a license to do so.

We didnít do anything to justify the attacks and blatant attempts to undermine our efforts. But we arenít going to just roll over at Paul and Fredís whims.  And when they decided to escalate and attempt to kill our main investment in court, which effectively would ruin us, then yes, we are going to use what legal means we have to defend ourselves and ensure we are protected.

We are also not the ones who hired a PR firm just to smear those we disagree with. Every time we see a brand new account, o e has to wonder, actual person or PR flak?

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creators-of-popular-star-control-computer-games-fight-back-against-copyright-theft-by-stardock-systems-and-ceo-brad-wardell-300603075.html

They didnít hire a PR firm for Ghosts but to smear me by name? Sure.  Sometimes, in a dispute, one side is almost completely at fault. And itís not Stardock as I suspect the courts will make clear once all the information is public rather than the tiny selected chunks Paul and Fred release to dishonestly mispresent the facts.

I donít expect you guys to change your minds. Many of you, like me, have decades of seeing Paul and Fred in a certain way. It takes a lot of bitter experience to change that impression.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: d00dz on March 20, 2018, 03:36:39 pm
Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

Sounds to me more like you are twisting Elestan's statements to bolster your narrative.

Quote
As for the litigation, layers escalate things. Thatís why itís better for people to work things out on their own.

Yeah, blame the lawyers. Pretty sure everything goes to you for approval first.

Good luck milking the Star Control trademark now when you have all but alienated a good chunk of the Star Control community. You certainly threw all that good will down the gutter. Much of the value of the brand was only pretty much the resonance with the older
players.

Youíve had an account here for an hour. And that was your first post.  So what community are you speaking for?

All Stardock has been doing, for four years, is making a new Star Control game.  And we have spent that 4 years also trying to be respectful to Paul and Fred including not using the aliens from SC2 in the new game even though, as has been said, our position was we had a license to do so.

We didnít do anything to justify the attacks and blatant attempts to undermine our efforts. But we arenít going to just roll over at Paul and Fredís whims.  And when they decided to escalate and attempt to kill our main investment in court, which effectively would ruin us, then yes, we are going to use what legal means we have to defend ourselves and ensure we are protected.

We are also not the ones who hired a PR firm just to smear those we disagree with. Every time we see a brand new account, o e has to wonder, actual person or PR flak?

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creators-of-popular-star-control-computer-games-fight-back-against-copyright-theft-by-stardock-systems-and-ceo-brad-wardell-300603075.html

They didnít hire a PR firm for Ghosts but to smear me by name? Sure.  Sometimes, in a dispute, one side is almost completely at fault. And itís not Stardock as I suspect the courts will make clear once all the information is public rather than the tiny selected chunks Paul and Fred release to dishonestly mispresent the facts.

I donít expect you guys to change your minds. Many of you, like me, have decades of seeing Paul and Fred in a certain way. It takes a lot of bitter experience to change that impression.

I can assure you that I am not a PR guy hired by whatever firm as I was an avid Star Control player during my high school days in the 90s.

I had an account on the TUQ forum long ago but cannot remember the email I used and lurked on several Star Control boards periodically like The Path of Now and Forever, etc as there wasn't much news. Pretty certain more than a few people do the same so for you to call me out as a PR guy makes me LOL.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Hunam_ on March 20, 2018, 03:46:45 pm
^ It's cute how you ignored the rest of Brad's points.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: d00dz on March 20, 2018, 03:56:24 pm
^ It's cute how you ignored the rest of Brad's points.

Its cute how you defend Brad everywhere.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 05:21:36 pm
Stardock supports the UQM project and will be donating the SC3 source once the legal mess is over.

That's a great move, but I think from the prospective of people who own UQM branches, the threat of a company holding trademarks on the alien names tends to outweigh the benefit of getting the SC3 code (let's face it; it wasn't a great game).  I believe you're a fan, and wouldn't do anything against the project, but if Stardock were acquired, who knows what would happen. You'd need to make some kind of irreversible trademark license similar to the GPL to remove that threat, and I'm not sure how that would work, legally.

Quote
As for the litigation, layers escalate things. Thatís why itís better for people to work things out on their own. Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

I certainly see escalation, but I do see it from both sides.  P&F were the first to take the dispute public, and appear to have been the first to bring in a lawyer (for the DMCA action).  But Stardock filing a full lawsuit was an escalation from a DMCA request, and its trademark filings were further escalations.

Quote
I donít know what is worse, that they violated the confidentiality of settlement talks or that they so misrepresented it, in either case, we are legally forbidden (as were they) from discussing it.

I feel for you on this, and I do try to stay aware that their posts might be cherry-picked information - that's why my initial response was to give you the chance to refute it.  Now that it's out that there is a confidentiality order, I think their posts will be met with more skepticism.  To me, at least, saying that you are legally barred from responding to something is actually a fairly good (if temporary) defense.  Someday, the whole truth will come out, and in the interim, I assume the court will enforce its edicts.

All Stardock has been doing, for four years, is making a new Star Control game.  And we have spent that 4 years also trying to be respectful to Paul and Fred including not using the aliens from SC2 in the new game even though, as has been said, our position was we had a license to do so.

So, that's a position that still troubles people, because the Accolade contract language looks like it would have terminated that license.  If you can explain why you think you still have a license, that could shift the perception of what Stardock can reasonably demand in this suit.

Quote
We are also not the ones who hired a PR firm just to smear those we disagree with. Every time we see a brand new account, one has to wonder, actual person or PR flak?

Well, I guarantee I'm not at a PR firm; I can think of few jobs I'd like less than being a shill.  I'd like to hope that keeping a calm narrative tied to known facts will actually serve as a counter to any baseless claims a PR firm might make.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 20, 2018, 05:58:50 pm
To be honest, the countersuit and the accompanying documents regarding the GoG issue a few years ago does bolster the FF/PR narrative of Stardock selling the game without agreement from FF/PR. As Atari confirmed, Atari would've needed agreement from FF/PR to sell the games SC1/SC2/SC3 on GoG.

Therefore I am inclined to believe them when they say the DCMA request towards steam is legally well based.
Your insistence that the DMCA requests are illegal just is the opposite narrative.
And it shows that you do feel hurt by the potential loss in income, however small I suspect the sales actually are.
Agreed, any successful DMCA may become dangerous once you start selling the new game in earnest, but so far I've not seen convincing arguments saying Stardock can sell the old games without prior approval from PR.


But what will happen if the court decides that you would've needed their approval before selling the old games on steam?
That the DCMA take down requests were reasoned and lagally sound?
And your willful continuation of the sales?
Will the damages end the development of SC:Origins ?

The whole contract languages, on top of the Atari/GoG e-mail chains seems to indicate that this isn't as clear cut as you make it.
I actually tend to read it rather clear in the reverse direction of your reading.

And if a court finds that too, then Stardock will have sincere issues. As that will hurt their Trademark standing too.

This whole issue is complex and the topics have become interwoven.


To be honest, I likely would've sent a DMCA request as well to protect my copyrights on old games in FF/PR's shoes; especially with the background of having won an extremely similar case for the GoG distribution "back then", when Atari agreed that Atari did not have the rights.


I'll be looking forward to have this mess sorted, but I fear that won't come very soon.
And until then, development time for GotP and SC:O is hampered by the time ressources necessary to sort this out.


Again thanks to you, Frogboy, for coming here and writing to us.
Can't be easy knowing that this is an environment where FF and PR are close to demigods, and thus the average reader a fanboy (like myself)...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Narsham on March 20, 2018, 07:13:12 pm
No, UQM is not under fire nor will it ever be.

Though I would be more concerned about the forum banner using the 3DO box art.

Even Brad's promise following your post doesn't guarantee that. Suppose Stardock wins the case and successfully registers as trademarks everything it has claimed. Those trademarks are all used in UQM. If Brad's lawyers come to him and say that allowing UQM to employ those trademarks unchallenged makes it likely that Stardock's winning case against Paul & Fred will be overturned, can he afford to endanger SC: Origins and all the money Stardock put into it in the name of ensuring UQM remains unmolested?

That may not happen; my sense is that it's unlikely to happen. But nobody can make any definitive statements until the court cases have been resolved.

My updated take on the situation (if anyone cares): Much of this mess is down to the nature of fandom generally and SC/UQM fandom specifically. Because I'm guessing we all know about the "SC3" thing, where although the game is an official sequel published by a company with the rights to do so and designed and written by people who were themselves fans, Paul & Fred weren't involved and the subsequent fan position has been to delegitimate the game (seriously or not) and suggest that it shouldn't be considered part of the canon because the Great Implementors were not involved in its creation (and because it's not very good in comparison to SC2, I suppose).

Simmer for decades. When Brad and Stardock come along to create a new Star Control, the question of Paul & Fred's involvement immediately came up, and in association with the legitimacy of any sequel produced. Brad was clearly concerned enough about the response to leave an ongoing impression that he was in communication with Paul & Fred, that the project was proceeding with great respect for them, and that Origins was starting a new story instead of continuing the story from SC2 because that sequel was for Paul & Fred to provide.

There's immediately several problems stemming from this situation. Firstly, Paul & Fred have left the impression that they were in no way collaborating or interested in collaborating, that they were not involved with this project, and that they wanted nothing to do with it. They have also suggested that Brad was not in ongoing communication with them. As we all know, Brad's a fan and I'm sure he would have welcomed a direct collaboration (for business reasons, too), but it's also understandable that Paul & Fred didn't want to create their own sequel for someone else. They don't seem to have liked Brad from the beginning of the process, either, for whatever reason, and that certainly seems to have blossomed as events proceeded. I note in passing that there's no requirement that people like each other, even if one party was a big fan of the others and spent a lot of money and trouble securing the rights to continue a franchise that he loves. Paul and Fred acted gracelessly, but they weren't under obligation to do otherwise.

Secondly, while Stardock made the wise decision not to try to go ahead with what could become SC3 2.0 by ignoring Paul & Fred's sequel for their own work, they also (reasonably) decided to rebuild the franchise so that they could get multiple Star Control games out of it. Decisions and publicity related to that were pretty much guaranteed to offend Paul & Fred: after all, starting over effectively cuts them out as creators (well before the lawsuit claiming that they were never creators to begin with), and the suggestion (still being made) that SC 1 & 2 (Paul & Fred's babies) are part of an alternate continuity to the SC: Origin-verse amounts to a forcible association between their intellectual/creative work and Stardock's. From their perspective, I suspect the proceedings felt like the following:

1. Brad gets in touch (perhaps muitiple times in multiple ways) to involve them in the new project. They want nothing to do with Brad. They tell him so.

2. Brad implies that while Paul & Fred aren't currently involved, he's communicating (perhaps even consulting) with them as Stardock moves forward. Multiple choices of language and communication reinforce that impression, like the repeated statement that the SC races which are Paul & Fred's IP aren't being used "out of respect" and not because Paul & Fred rudely denied all requests and refused to discuss or negotiate. I obviously can't read Brad's mind, but I do have to say that advertising the Ghosts of the Precursors project anywhere (including here) if its initial posting was basically a huge FU to Stardock is frankly baffling, and the only reason I can see to do so is the combination of the fan's "I really want to play this" and the businessman's "continued association between myself and the Great Implementors can only help sell copies of SC: Origins." From Paul & Fred's perspective, this isn't enthusiasm, it's another series of moves to claim the goodwill and admiration their work created for the franchise while cutting them out.

3. Somewhere in here, Stardock tells Paul & Fred they can't use "Star Control" in their press release. I don't know if a lawyer came to Brad and pointed out a problem he hadn't noticed, or what happened. Paul & Fred are in the wrong (except inasmuch as they are the people ultimately, if not solely, responsible for SC 1 & 2), but they are also pissed.

And here again, the fandom legitimacy problem rears its ugly head. Because at this point, either Star Control: Origins is no longer legitimate, or Ghosts of the Precursors isn't, but the only way Stardock can possibly win that battle given that (following SC3) Paul & Fred define legitimacy in one regard, but legally Stardock owns the franchise, is to undercut Paul & Fred's ability to grant imprimatur. In other words, from now on, Paul & Fred can't be the arbitors of what is or is not related to the UQM; Stardock must be.

But from Paul & Fred's perspective, the only way that happens is if their creation is taken away from them. And of course, from their perspective (and possibly legally, depending on how that goes), Stardock never owned what makes Star Controls 1 & 2 Star Control, which isn't the name but the IP which they developed. So they pull back with all the resources at their disposal, not just because their new project is under threat, but because they now believe that Stardock is trying to take away all the labor they put into creating their setting.

Coda: The Stardock FAQ characterizes some things very differently from Paul & Fred, and I'm largely taking the Paul & Fred characterization because Stardock's makes everyone look better while Paul & Fred's version of events makes Paul & Fred look worse. I believe Stardock was in a one-sided communication with Paul & Fred in the hopes of bringing them around on involvement in the project, for reasons articulated above. And I believe that Paul & Fred already had animosity towards the attempt and maintained a stubborn silence. Indeed, if they were planning to create a sequel and given how IP rights work, they may have seen any information Stardock shared with them as an attempt to lay the foundation for a future lawsuit claiming that Paul & Fred stole ideas. Paul & Fred clearly want nothing to do with Stardock or their project, and the mess partly involves the danger to Stardock and Origins from the fan respect paid to Paul & Fred. What if the game comes out and they do interviews panning it and saying "It's 'Star Control' just like 'Star Control' 3?"


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: bum783 on March 20, 2018, 07:49:10 pm
October 9th 2017 was a GREAT day. (The best day since I finally figured out the 3DO word I couldnt quite understand was Procyon) Us fans not only had the rebooted game that had hyped for such a LONG time possibly getting a release date, BUT we ALSO had the true sequel we had been waiting for. Now today March 20th 2018 I couldnt be more depressed. Reading about the legal escalation im realizing that at the end of the day the fans are going to be the biggest losers in all of this. We were better off just fantasizing about a sequel than we are having it dangled in front of our faces. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 20, 2018, 08:03:44 pm
I'm just going to wait and see. All this side arguing about things we have no control over is heckin' tiring.
So for now, I'm out of this topic until things clear up.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 20, 2018, 08:09:50 pm
\Even Elestan seems to recognize the one sided gradual escalation.

That does not seem to be a reasonable reading of what Elestan wrote. Unless you're oddly claiming that you're the only side to escalate, or that when you escalated it was anything but gradual?

Thatís certainly how it appeared here.  First, they announce Ghosts and associatizte it with SC. Then they begin making public attacks on Stardock.  Then they file DMCA notices.  What escalation was Stardock doing?

Just in case you might interpret my silence as not having an answer, I will quote Elestan's response, which first noted how P&F escalated, but then went onÖ

Quote
Ö But Stardock filing a full lawsuit was an escalation from a DMCA request, and its trademark filings were further escalations.

On top of this I would add the note that the lawsuit contained outlandish claims that bordered on insult. This was not simply 'a lawsuit'.

Also, the trademark filings were not merely escalations vs P&F, but also against the project this site is devoted to. We were getting along very well with no one having a trademark on UQM, or Yehat. Someone's holding that trademark can only make things worse, if only to place a sword of Damocles above our heads that it might eventually be used against us, even if the current holders do nothing - that can be sold, just as you bought it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 20, 2018, 09:15:00 pm
To be honest, the countersuit and the accompanying documents regarding the GoG issue a few years ago does bolster the FF/PR narrative of Stardock selling the game without agreement from FF/PR. As Atari confirmed, Atari would've needed agreement from FF/PR to sell the games SC1/SC2/SC3 on GoG.

Therefore I am inclined to believe them when they say the DCMA request towards steam is legally well based.
Your insistence that the DMCA requests are illegal just is the opposite narrative.
And it shows that you do feel hurt by the potential loss in income, however small I suspect the sales actually are.
Agreed, any successful DMCA may become dangerous once you start selling the new game in earnest, but so far I've not seen convincing arguments saying Stardock can sell the old games without prior approval from PR.


But what will happen if the court decides that you would've needed their approval before selling the old games on steam?
That the DCMA take down requests were reasoned and lagally sound?
And your willful continuation of the sales?
Will the damages end the development of SC:Origins ?

The whole contract languages, on top of the Atari/GoG e-mail chains seems to indicate that this isn't as clear cut as you make it.
I actually tend to read it rather clear in the reverse direction of your reading.

And if a court finds that too, then Stardock will have sincere issues. As that will hurt their Trademark standing too.

This whole issue is complex and the topics have become interwoven.


To be honest, I likely would've sent a DMCA request as well to protect my copyrights on old games in FF/PR's shoes; especially with the background of having won an extremely similar case for the GoG distribution "back then", when Atari agreed that Atari did not have the rights.


I'll be looking forward to have this mess sorted, but I fear that won't come very soon.
And until then, development time for GotP and SC:O is hampered by the time ressources necessary to sort this out.


Again thanks to you, Frogboy, for coming here and writing to us.
Can't be easy knowing that this is an environment where FF and PR are close to demigods, and thus the average reader a fanboy (like myself)...

Hi Krulle:

As always, I am not a lawyer but let me outline this bit by bit:

There are three, largely unrelated issues at hand here.  Let's tackle each one:

First: The right to sell and distribute the classic games.  When we first acquired Star Control from Atari we talked to Paul and Fred on this issue:

(https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/4ee3cffd-233f-4901-9e1d-be7757699ef1.png)

But for the sake of argument, let's say that the court rules that the sale agreement has expired.  Then the games come down.  I think they've netted around $10k in their lifetime on Steam give or take or about the cost to answer one legal brief.

The underlying question is why they suddenly wanted them taken down.  And we will get to that.

Second: The license to use the old IP in sequels.

This one is very murky.  It's not relevant since we aren't using any of the IP.   But let's presume that the license agreement has expired.  Ok. We aren't using those characters, setting or lore.  So it's has no effect either way. 


Third: The trademark dispute.

Has Paul and Fred given the impression that Ghosts of the Precursors is related to Star Control? If yes, they lose.  That is almost verbatum what a jury instruction would be.

The follow up would be, did Paul and Fred intentionally give the impression that Ghosts of the Precursors was related to Star Control.  If yes, then things get a lot worse for them.

There's no wiggle room on that.  They wanted Ghosts of the Precursors to benefit from the good will fame of Star Control.  And they did and received a great deal of press coverage and we were harmed in the form of customers asking for refunds because they thought that Origins was the "real" Star Control.

Now, if they lose they are liable to the damage they have caused us during the course of this.  What percentage of sales do you think have been lost due to Ghosts of the Precursors and Paul and Fred's postings?  Or put another way, if X is what Star Control: Origins would have made before Paul and Fred's actions starting in October and Y is what it would be now what % of X is Y? 

Obviously, I would prefer none of this be publicly discussed.  This is why when we filed the complaint in December you heard nothing from us until after Fred and Paul posted a press release announcing their countersuit against our "theft".

Could/Should all of this been worked out before it got here? IMO, absolutely.  The easiest path would have been if they had stuck to what they posted in their blog yesterday:

ďÖ It is important that our players are not confused about which game they are getting, so we need to clearly distinguish our respective projects.  That separation should fall along our respective rights, Stardock having purchased the Star Control trademarks and Fred and I owning all the IP rights to the works we created."

Yes. That. And if they had done that, and then asked us to take down the DOS games, we would have just like we voluntarily took out Super-Melee at their request BEFORE they reneged on what they posted.

After they did that,  things got a lot more complex.

To put things in perspective, Sins of a Solar Empire has made over $50 million in its run so far.  We expect Star Control to do in this neighborhood too.  What % of the potential sales do you think they've cost us due to their actions?  Such as our inability to get media coverage that doesn't mention Ghosts.   The shadow of there being a competing Star Control game from "the creators" creating uncertainty with channel partners, overseas distributors, OEMs.  And that's before you get into their public attacks on us and inciting fans.

This isn't about ego or pride.  It's about the livelihoods of the my coworkers.  It's about delivering on our promises to the fans. Paul and Fred's action have put our livelihoods at risk and for what? 






Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 20, 2018, 09:53:10 pm
Second: The license to use the old IP in sequels.

We aren't using those characters, setting or lore.  So it's has no effect either way.  

Third: The trademark dispute.

Now, if they lose they are liable to the damage they have caused us during the course of this.  What percentage of sales do you think have been lost due to Ghosts of the Precursors and Paul and Fred's postings?  Or put another way, if X is what Star Control: Origins would have made before Paul and Fred's actions starting in October and Y is what it would be now what % of X is Y?

Sure, that sounds right.  And if your suit was focused on calculating and getting those damages, I think it would play a lot better; if you look at what people are saying, they're not giving you flak for your trademark damages.  They're giving you flak for the stuff you're doing relating to the old IP, which you said above that you aren't using and has no effect.

So my advice (which is worth what I've been paid for it) is to stop fighting them over the old IP.  You've already said it doesn't matter for SC:O, and if that's true you're doing yourself far more goodwill damage than any gain you could reasonably expect to get from it.  You might well have lost more SC:O sales by that loss of goodwill than from any confusion P&F's trademark-infringing post may have caused.

I do recall that you've said that part of why you were attacking their old IP was in case they might assert you're using it.  You've said you're not, and I'm assuming that's true - especially if you were to stop claiming that their universe was part of your multiverse.

I see a possible trade here:  Even if you concede their IP claims on the old games, P&F would still need a license from you if they want to sell them, because they're still called "Star Control", and that's still your trademark - I really doubt they can invalidate that, and my advice to them would be to stop trying.  So trade them a trademark license to sell the old games, in exchange for their guarantee that they won't question your trademark, and won't sue you over any vague similarities your universe might have to theirs (and you agreeing not to use the old races, etc.).  Then they pay you an appropriate fine for their October post, and you're both back to making games again.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 20, 2018, 10:34:34 pm
Hi Krulle:

As always, I am not a lawyer but let me outline this bit by bit:

There are three, largely unrelated issues at hand here.  Let's tackle each one:

First: The right to sell and distribute the classic games.  
Second: The license to use the old IP in sequels.
The fiimpact of these two issues is indeed rather small.
Yet, the first one has a huge personal impact on those who create the IP and believe it is their property.

And for a company this creates less emotion than for private persons...
Private persons tend to react more emotional, and thus less rational.
But they may be just as aggressive defending their rights.

Third: The trademark dispute.

Has Paul and Fred given the impression that Ghosts of the Precursors is related to Star Control? If yes, they lose.  That is almost verbatum what a jury instruction would be.
Here I differ from your belief what the jury instruction will be.
GotP will be the continuation of the storyline started in Star Control II, told by the creators of Star Control II, and thus will be the continuation of Star Control Ii, and is therefore related to Star Control.
It will not be related to the Star Control franchise anymore, as that is now owned by someone else.
But how can you describe what you're doing without referring to the names of the original product?

The follow up would be, did Paul and Fred intentionally give the impression that Ghosts of the Precursors was related to Star Control.  If yes, then things get a lot worse for them.
See above.

There's no wiggle room on that.  They wanted Ghosts of the Precursors to benefit from the good will fame of Star Control.  And they did and received a great deal of press coverage and we were harmed in the form of customers asking for refunds because they thought that Origins was the "real" Star Control.
Just as Stardock wishes to cash on the goodwill the name Star Control carries because of the success of the first two of the classic games of the series.

When I read that Star Control 3 was not created by the original creators, but continues the story, I already felt cheated. I faultily associated the name with the goodwill I had for the original story.
Hence, now I have the same issue with SC:O. It carries the name of something I love, but will not continue why I love Star Control.
Hence, for me, it lost the goodwill you associate with the trademark name.
So, the real question for the jury will be where the goodwill lies: with the intellectual property or with the trademark?

Short: I'm of the opinion that you're riding on someone else's goodwill when you use the name "Star Control".
But such is the current nature of civil law.


Now, if they lose they are liable to the damage they have caused us during the course of this.  What percentage of sales do you think have been lost due to Ghosts of the Precursors and Paul and Fred's postings?  Or put another way, if X is what Star Control: Origins would have made before Paul and Fred's actions starting in October and Y is what it would be now what % of X is Y?  
Difficult to quantify. As any "if/when" question.

Obviously, I would prefer none of this be publicly discussed.  This is why when we filed the complaint in December you heard nothing from us until after Fred and Paul[...]
Which is standard operating procedure for legal stuff.


 What % of the potential sales do you think they've cost us due to their actions?  Such as our inability to get media coverage that doesn't mention Ghosts.   The shadow of there being a competing Star Control game from "the creators" creating uncertainty with channel partners, overseas distributors, OEMs.  And that's before you get into their public attacks on us and inciting fans.
Well, getting media attention is an issue for you, yes. But not their fault.
The shadow of another game which fans may even like better because it comes from those who created the original IP?
Unlucky timing for you, I agree to that. But again, this shows who and what those in the business associate with the goodwill you always exclusively try to associate to the trademark.
How many of your preorders have been cancelled, because the customers found out that your game will not be written by the original creators, and thus wll have nothing to do with what they associated their good memories with?
I fear we'll never know, because the refund box has no box yo can check for "I wanted a continuation by FF and PR, not another game with only the trademark to show".

And some in the last weeks may even have decided to ask for a refund because Stardock seems to,be attacking the foundation of the original games. Who the creators were, and trying to grab trademarks unrelated to the game in development.

This isn't about ego or pride.  It's about the livelihoods of the my coworkers.  It's about delivering on our promises to the fans. Paul and Fred's action have put our livelihoods at risk and for what?  
Well, honestly I've heard of Galactic Civilizations. Never played it thogh, and thus did not know of Stardock, until Stardock bought the trademark Star Control.
So far only Microprose was a company where I looked for new games.
WHen Sid Meyer left MicroProse, Firaxis was able to take that spot.
Otherwise every game has to make it by itself for me.

Promise to your fans? How many of these fans expected Star Control Origins to be licensed from FF and PR and thus continue the story of Star Control II? Just like many of us bought Star Control 3....
Well, the media coverage alas led to many realizing that their money was put on a horse just like SC3 was. Actually even worse, as there won't even be the pretention to solve some of the open questions of Star Control II.
If that is what they wanted, and now realizing where the new game is going, they of course try to limit the damage to themselves by asking for a refund.

But your fight for your employees I can get fully behind.
Even if I think it's not been FF and PR who risked your livelihoods.
The risk of a game flopping is simply part of the business.


And you are rather close to publication, compared to FF and PR, who have so far only announced the start of development.
I expect their game to appear quite a while after yours. Depending on the scope of project, which we still not know about.
Honestly, If Paul Reiche would start writing a novel as continuation of the story I love, instead of a game, I would buy his book.
If I had only money for his book and your game with excellent critics, I would still buy the book instead of your game.
I simply want the story, not "a Star Control" game.


Anyway, I still hope it'll work out for both sides.
SC:Origins sounds interesting enough that I do wish it success!

But until I've read more about what happened, I'll stick to my decision.
And I expect that with an agreement may come a decision to stay quiet about any modalities and content of the agreement, which may mean that the information I long for may never become public...

(there's more why I'm not that unhappy about not spending money for Origins: I will likely not be able to play it anyway for a few years to come... kids and busy daily lifes... this whole affair can therefore be seen as an excuse to remain sitting on my money....)


Edit: ninja'ed by Elestan,.
And that reminded me once again to be thankful for your patience with us fanboys and giving us some answers here.
So, thank you, Frogboy, for this civil discussion and comments from your side.
I hope my take is as civil as I hope and intended it to be.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 21, 2018, 03:07:54 am
I've seen repeated claims that posting the terms of the settlement offer was a breach of confidentiality.  There's someone on the Stardock forums claiming it is illegal to discuss settlement offers in public.

That extreme seems quite clearly farcically wrong, but is there any specific information anywhere that the court ordered that the specifics of the settlement offer not be divulged?

The fact that they WERE divulged is pretty clearly paired with a refusal to accept them.  I am very curious why and under what circumstances settlement offers would be accompanied by a court order not to make them public.  The only cases of which I am aware are settlements that are accepted in which case non-disclosure of the details is a standard component.  But that is not the case here.

So I would like to know why this "breach of confidentiality" stuff is getting waved around, if anyone can fill that in.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 03:58:16 am
You can read up on the topic here:

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1911&context=facpubs

I don't know if they'll actually be sanctioned by the court or not for it.  But no, you're not supposed to.  What's even worse is that they were very dishonest in how they represented them.

However, it does mean there won't be any settlement discussions going forward since it is obvious they will attempt to misrepresent any sort of negotiation in public.   It should quiet things down for the next couple years I presume.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Hunam_ on March 21, 2018, 04:44:39 am
^ It's cute how you ignored the rest of Brad's points.

Its cute how you defend Brad everywhere.

Why shouldn't I? He paid money to get SC (tm), FaP didn't. He spent million of dollars and 4 years of daily work to continue SC legacy. What FaP have to show for Ghosts?... Wait, I'm preparing the list. Ok, I'm back. - NOTHING.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on March 21, 2018, 05:04:34 am
I just feel everyone is doing this wrong.

Brad, F&P should all sit together at a table and agree that the most important thing to do right now is to figure out who actually owns what - not in an adversarial court case, but by getting lawyers in mutually to unravel this crapfest.  The answers will come faster and easier that way.

Once everyone knows what everyone is legally allowed to do and not do, then there can be constructive talks and actions by everyone involved.

Except everyone is now so bitter at everyone else that it's turned into a fight rather than a team effort.  And it'll cost more money and time because of it.

Brad: have you considered the possibility that F&P might be right in their claim that you legally cannot sell Star Control 1 + 2 without their permission?
That you cannot use any of their IP in SC:O?
That other than the name (and SC3) you don't own any parts of what they created?
And that they're particulary upset because they've had to defend this before in the past, only to have history repeat itself?

I'd pose a similar question to F&P if I saw them: have you guys considered that you might have got your understanding of the rights to the SC name wrong?
That it does allow the rights holder to distribute and profit from Star Control 1 + 2 as they see fit?
That there is no need for them to seek your permission over everything?
And that using the Star Control name to market your game - which some people might see as a competing product - could upset and worry Stardock, especially after they spent money specifically in order to have the rights to do so - unlike you, who didn't?

It's not only possible but almost certain that both sides have valid points and concerns.

Come to New Zealand and I'll mediate for you, and unlike your lawyers I'll do it for free!


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 05:47:20 am
Just look above at my earlier response. It covers exactly what you theorized.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 21, 2018, 06:03:33 am
I've seen repeated claims that posting the terms of the settlement offer was a breach of confidentiality.  There's someone on the Stardock forums claiming it is illegal to discuss settlement offers in public.

That extreme seems quite clearly farcically wrong, [...]

It would be *really* unusual for a court to try to bind a non-party to silence.  I think I recall an attempt to do so years back, that was quickly thrown out on appeal.  The U.S. First Amendment makes it very hard to bar people from speaking freely, so the rest of us can all talk as much as we want (fortunately for me).

Quote
but is there any specific information anywhere that the court ordered that the specifics of the settlement offer not be divulged?

There might be some information in the court documents (https://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/3:2017cv07025/320268), but you need a PACER account with the court system to access them, and it costs $0.10/page.

It also might be possible for Brad to post the settlement order itself.  Just because they can't disclose the settlement terms doesn't mean they can't disclose why they can't disclose the settlement terms. (*)

Quote
I am very curious why and under what circumstances settlement offers would be accompanied by a court order not to make them public.  The only cases of which I am aware are settlements that are accepted in which case non-disclosure of the details is a standard component.  But that is not the case here.

It's actually pretty routine in cases where the parties have public relations concerns.  The court is trying to make them negotiate seriously with each other, and having the negotiations in public tends to lead to grandstanding instead of serious talks.  Such gag orders usually don't extend beyond the end of the case, though, so when it's over people should be able to talk freely.

The situation you were referring to is when the parties agree to a long-term gag clause as part of the settlement.  That's a different animal; it's voluntarily accepted by both sides, and can last indefinitely.

Quote
So I would like to know why this "breach of confidentiality" stuff is getting waved around, if anyone can fill that in.

The link Brad posted should get you the information, though it's rather dry.

(*) As an aside, I actually ran into just such a recursive cloaking clause recently.  I was offered a job interview, and the NDA to get into the job interview prohibited revealing its own existence and terms.  You can infer my reaction from the fact that I wrote the preceding sentence.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on March 21, 2018, 06:22:37 am
Just look above at my earlier response. It covers exactly what you theorized.

Right, but you're not sitting over a table working out where your understandings differ and working those out together, instead you're both throwing laywers in a legal offensive.  Note I'm not going so far as to say who is at fault for that being the case, but it's definitely what's happening.

You say you'd take down Star Control 1 and 2 if F&P proved that they should come down.  But you didn't give them the benefit of the doubt and kept them up, showing you're more inclined to distrust them on this than trust them until that misunderstanding can be cleared up - they did present some evidence to back up their claim, so if it were me I'd have give them the benefit of the doubt.

You say that you don't care about the old IP stuff because you're not using it, but you're making an official and legal attempt to control those old IPs.  So either you're lying when you say you don't want to use them, or you're trying to get them purely to get revenge, which would be neither mature not constructive (and as a writer myself, would make me hate you with every fiber of my being if you tried it on me).

The last point I feel you're completely correct on, in the sense that the name 'Star Control' shouldn't be used prominently in the marketing of F&P's new game, and doing so is likely illegal on their part.  Then again, it's starting to sound ridiculous if you're trying to forbid F&P from ever mentioning they worked on Star Control games in the past, and what their role in it was.  I'd say their evidence that they contributed considerably to the design and style of Star Control 1 + 2 will be hard to deny.  And I don't see it as wrong for them to point out the fact that GotP would be set in the same universe as the old Star Control games which they helped to develop and shape... assuming, of course, they do indeed own the rights to the IP of the aliens etc that they think they do.

Which brings me back to the main point: there are facts here that are in dispute, and they are important to one group or the other.  Both groups are fighting each other over this disagreement, rather than both sides working together to find out the objective truth together (and then maybe finding that fighting is not needed after all)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on March 21, 2018, 08:04:17 am
Come to New Zealand and I'll mediate for you, and unlike your lawyers I'll do it for free!

That sounds really nice. The plane tickets are also probably much cheaper than the lawyers. Maybe you could tempt them with a nice picture from where you live?  ;)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 21, 2018, 09:34:19 am
I've seen repeated claims that posting the terms of the settlement offer was a breach of confidentiality.  There's someone on the Stardock forums claiming it is illegal to discuss settlement offers in public.

That extreme seems quite clearly farcically wrong, [...]

It would be *really* unusual for a court to try to bind a non-party to silence.  I think I recall an attempt to do so years back, that was quickly thrown out on appeal.  The U.S. First Amendment makes it very hard to bar people from speaking freely, so the rest of us can all talk as much as we want (fortunately for me).
On top of that, I'd love to see a U.S. court extend its jurisdiction over to Europe, where I am following and participating in this discussion.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on March 21, 2018, 01:00:54 pm
As always, I am not a lawyer but let me outline this bit by bit:

Second: The license to use the old IP in sequels.

This one is very murky.  It's not relevant since we aren't using any of the IP.   But let's presume that the license agreement has expired.  Ok. We aren't using those characters, setting or lore.  So it's has no effect either way.  
But...you recently posted this  (https://forums.starcontrol.com/488067/page/1)on your site (edit: direct link to the post doesn't seem to work, just scroll down a bit):
Quote
Our position on what species we will include has changed for obvious reasons.

Because of the differing histories of each universe, the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. of the Origins universe will have have a very different set of experiences.

The initial release of Origins takes place in 2088 so you are not going to be running into those particular aliens.  But by 2110s as the player's map expands beyond the initial 40x40 parsec area, you can expect to run aliens associated with the earlier Star Control games.

 
So yes, you are flagrantly using their characters without permission, or at least plan to in the future. Stardock has played a part (at the very least) in escalating the conflict.

Note the date of that post: March 18. Reiche's blog post about the settlement was March 19, probably in response to this recent escalation.

My guess is that the response will be that it doesn't count because these are different Ur-quan and Spathi in an alternate universe, not Fred and Paul's Ur-quan? If so, I don't think most people will find that convincing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 21, 2018, 01:28:51 pm
So yes, you are fragrantly [...]

fragrant: Affecting the olfactory nerves agreeably; sweet of smell;
     odorous; having or emitting an agreeable perfume.
     [1913 Webster]
flagrant: Actually in preparation, execution, or performance;
        carried on hotly; raging.
        [1913 Webster]


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 21, 2018, 01:36:05 pm
Once everyone knows what everyone is legally allowed to do and not do, then there can be constructive talks and actions by everyone involved.

I think the whole point here is that Stardock's view of what each party owns, and Fred&Paul's view of what each party owns, is substantially different, and each party has been acting based on the self-evident truth that their view is correct and the other party is behaving like a dastardly pirate.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 21, 2018, 01:41:34 pm
Thank you for pointing us to that post, Mormont.

So, indeed, yes. Stardock is pushing the boundaries.

I wonder what the "obvious reasons" are?
Commercial interest?
To attract more of the original fans?
The goodwill Stardock attaches to the trademark is actually indeed with the original characters, and therefore now needs the original characters to be present in SC:O?
Another shove stacked against the push?


One is entitled to change his opinion.
But after several announcements and "guarantees" to not use ANY character of the original classic series, this post by Frogboy (https://forums.starcontrol.com/488067/get;3707532)  from 18 March 2018 is more than just a "change of opinion", especially this late into the development of the new game.

We live in a world where words have lost their meaning.
They are always chosen to sound nice.
But nowadays, they are chosen to make belief the opposite of what seemingly is being done.


@vok: it all seems to depend on whether the licensing contract between Atari and FF/PR for the development of new games has expired (as indicated by FF/PR), or whether this licensing cannot terminate (as repeatedly stated by Stardock).
When I scrolled over the contract, I found the wordings to be clear. But I may have missed a detail the attorneys found, which may contradict the clear wordings which convinced me of one opinion.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on March 21, 2018, 01:59:49 pm
So yes, you are fragrantly [...]

fragrant: Affecting the olfactory nerves agreeably; sweet of smell;
     odorous; having or emitting an agreeable perfume.
     [1913 Webster]
flagrant: Actually in preparation, execution, or performance;
        carried on hotly; raging.
        [1913 Webster]
Ha, I do know the difference but made a typo. FIxed it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 21, 2018, 02:47:52 pm
I would just like to pop in and say I really appreciate the in-depth analyses being posted in this thread, most recently from Narsham and Elestan. You guys have so eloquently materialized my thoughts (and perhaps many others') into words. I suspect there are many others lurking around here who want to but are unable to effectively contribute to the discussion, so please do keep it up guys.

I also would like to thank Frogboy for continuing to listen to the SC fandom despite the backlash. It really says a lot about your dedication to heed the community's feedback when most CEOs would rather just sit in their towers and count their money. I really hope P&F would join in this discussion as well (less angrily perhaps) and with our powers combined... (lol) eke out that what really matters is both parties should be able to make their games and entertain the world with them.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 03:14:48 pm
Thanks for the kind words.

I started Stardock on my own from my dorm room 25 years ago.  I had nothing.  I literally had a job cleaning "stuff" off of excavation equipment to help pay for school.  I learned to program by buying Teach Yourself C in 21 days.

Over the years, I've worked on many games.  I've designed many. Programmed many.  Did art and story for many.  I've got to work with some amazing people.

I'm not some rich guy who just decided to fund a new Star Control game.  I designed, programmed and did nearly all the art in the original Galactic Civilizations for OS/2.  And I paid for it through the aforementioned awful jobs. 

So I have a pretty healthy respect for both intellectual property rights and the emotional attachments people can have form with their creations.

The dispute with Paul and Fred could be distilled down to their official legal position that they gave to us.  And I quote:

"Whether Brad likes it or not, Ghosts of the Precursors is going to be made as a direct sequel to the Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters adventure originally created by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III in 1992. As you stated below, we anticipate resistance. "

So on the one hand, we absolutely would have been willing to take down the DOS games if they really felt strongly.  But they not only refused to find some way to undo the harm they had done by creating market confusion with their announcement, they made it clear that they would continue to promote Ghosts as a direct sequel to Star Control and fully anticipated that we would have to take legal action.

The Internet lawyers here can go back and forth all day about this.  But the fact is, no, they can't do that because it will create market confusion.  All goodwill and reputation associated with Star Control is tied to the trademark.   This is well established IP law.  You can't borrow from someone else's goodwill and reputation to promote your product.

All this could have been avoided.   









Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: HisDivineShadw on March 21, 2018, 04:17:33 pm
My god this is a lot too read.

Many people seem to think Stardock was/is trying stop Star Control from P&F being made. But they from before this dispute said they were not and were indeed excited for them.This did not come out of the blue and smack P&F, It seems calculated.

https://forums.starcontrol.com/485378/ghosts-of-the-precursors

Also, If Stardock owns the right to the trademark StarControl, They are liable for all damages. So if P&F Say their game is the True Star Control, and name their Captain "Pepsi" on the SS "Coca-Cola. What do you think will happen to Stardock. Frankly all P&F had to do, was say its a sequel to UQM. That's it. Instead it seems they stuck a knife in Stardocks back.

No one has touch Star control commercially in 20 years. It's not a gold mine people. Call of Duty trademark is a gold mine. Star Control is a risk investment.
As beloved as are 25years old game is. ITS 25 YEARS OLD!!! If only the community of long time fans bought the game, there would be zero profit. There is just not enough of us. anyways...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 21, 2018, 04:20:04 pm
Second: The license to use the old IP in sequels.

This one is very murky.  It's not relevant since we aren't using any of the IP.   But let's presume that the license agreement has expired.  Ok. We aren't using those characters, setting or lore.  So it's has no effect either way.  

Really? That seems at odds with your stated intentions here. It sounds very much like it is your intention to gain control of the IP and use it in your games, whether SC:O or a future game.
https://forums.stardock.net/487690/page/4/#replies
(click to show/hide)

^ It's cute how you ignored the rest of Brad's points.

Its cute how you defend Brad everywhere.

Why shouldn't I? He paid money to get SC (tm), FaP didn't. He spent million of dollars and 4 years of daily work to continue SC legacy. What FaP have to show for Ghosts?... Wait, I'm preparing the list. Ok, I'm back. - NOTHING.

Because as far as we know they've only just started a few months ago. How long into development was it before we saw anything of SC:O?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: HisDivineShadw on March 21, 2018, 04:43:00 pm
" How long into development was it before we saw anything of SC:O?"

  you do not know, you are obviously new.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on March 21, 2018, 04:49:14 pm
"Whether Brad likes it or not, Ghosts of the Precursors is going to be made as a direct sequel to the Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters adventure originally created by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III in 1992. As you stated below, we anticipate resistance. "

Yes, they intend to make a new game based on a previous title they worked on named Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters.  They are not branding their game as a Star Control (tm) game, they are not labeling the product as a Star Control (tm) for identification purposes.  They referencing a product to which they HAVE copyrights for... As evidence by a post on your own site in the lower left hand corner of the second picture:  https://www.starcontrol.com/article/485810/star-control-ii-25th-anniversary---on-the-shoulders-of-giants

So on the one hand, we absolutely would have been willing to take down the DOS games if they really felt strongly.  But they not only refused to find some way to undo the harm they had done by creating market confusion with their announcement, they made it clear that they would continue to promote Ghosts as a direct sequel to Star Control and fully anticipated that we would have to take legal action.

Regardless of their feelings and Stardock's position...  The DOS games SHOULD be taken down by Stardock.  Stardock does not own the copyrights and as evidenced by Atari and GOG, Stardock does not have the distribution rights.  So, Stardock is actively and knowingly engaging in copyright infringement as a retaliatory action against Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III for matters unrelated to the copyright.  This is how it presents itself based on what has been presented.  Stardock continues to do X due to Y.

Quote
All this could have been avoided.

Indeed.  When the DMCA noticed was filed, Stardock should have complied and stopped selling the DOS games.  Stardock then could have asked for references to Star Control (tm) be kept to a minimum.  Problem solved.

But now Stardock is filing trademarks for elements within the realm of Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III's copyrighted intellectual property.  Which is why many raise a brow at statements like this:

Quote
So I have a pretty healthy respect for both intellectual property rights and the emotional attachments people can have form with their creations.

Stardock keeps on trying to portray themselves as reasonable and amicable folks, but then they conduct activities that run absolutely counter to their portrayal.  This is why a lot of people are taken back by Stardock at the moment.  It's like watching a speech from a third world dictator who pauses after a long part praising his leadership towards furthering humans rights...   Then the echoes of gun fire from the nearby firing squad ring out.  That's some serious cognitive dissonance going on.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 04:49:20 pm
They have no legal rights to the names.  Only the copyrights of things that they created.

Given the dispute, it is has become abundantly clear that we have no alternative but to ensure that all trade-markable items already associated with Star Control are protected to prevent confusion or dilution.

Given that Paul and Fred have already tried to cancel our trademark, we became more motivated than ever to ensure that our considerable investment has as many vectors of protection as possible.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Hunam_ on March 21, 2018, 04:54:58 pm
Because as far as we know they've only just started a few months ago. How long into development was it before we saw anything of SC:O?

Well, you don't know much then, do you? The open to founders development started in 2015. I'm sure the pre-production stage started even earlier.
You also assume that Ghosts development started.

(click to show/hide)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 21, 2018, 04:55:37 pm
" How long into development was it before we saw anything of SC:O?"

  you do not know, you are obviously new.



What has that got to do with anything? I'm asking a question because it's relevant to Hunam_'s point. SC:O has supposedly been in development for four years, when did we start seeing the development of the game?

If you aren't going to answer that question I'm not sure why you're replying to me.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 21, 2018, 05:02:49 pm
Because as far as we know they've only just started a few months ago. How long into development was it before we saw anything of SC:O?

Well, you don't know much then, do you? The open to founders development started in 2015. I'm sure the pre-production stage started even earlier.
You also assume that Ghosts development started.

(click to show/hide)

Thank you, that was exactly the point I was trying to prove. 2015 is 3 years ago, potentially much less depending on when in the year we're talking. It's also highly unusual to start sharing that early in development (which is cool of Stardock to do). Given that we have no idea when development on GotP started in earnest (it may have been as late as the time of the announcement) and that it's not usual to share the development process, what reason do you have to suggest that the game doesn't and will never exist?

They have no legal rights to the names.  Only the copyrights of things that they created.

Given the dispute, it is has become abundantly clear that we have no alternative but to ensure that all trade-markable items already associated with Star Control are protected to prevent confusion or dilution.

Given that Paul and Fred have already tried to cancel our trademark, we became more motivated than ever to ensure that our considerable investment has as many vectors of protection as possible.

You keep flip-flopping on this. First you weren't going to use original races, then you were ("And yes, given these events, future Star Control games will have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.") then in this thread you again have no intention of using them! Why are you trademarking names you have no intention of using?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 05:25:39 pm
If only there was some way on the forum to look at what people have posted and when...

http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=5463.msg71121#msg71121

2013.

Quote
You keep flip-flopping on this. First you weren't going to use original races, then you were ("And yes, given these events, future Star Control games will have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.") then in this thread you again have no intention of using them! Why are you trademarking names you have no intention of using?

We had chosen not to have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in Origins out of respect for Paul and Fred's wishes.  This dispute has changed that position.  Now, future Star Control games will have aliens associated with Star Control.  The Spathi and Orz and so on will absolutely appear in future Star Control games.   They won't appear in Origins as we are too far into development.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on March 21, 2018, 05:30:33 pm
They have no legal rights to the names.  Only the copyrights of things that they created.

The names are unique terms created by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III that given the context of the rest of the work are copyrighted.  Such unique terms have been used in copyright cases to determine whether a work is derivative or not.  There are many terms that Paizo cannot use for Pathfinder that are within the IP portfolio of Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons due to copyright.  Common words cannot be copyrighted, but uniquely created terms within context can be considered part of a copyrighted work.

Quote
Given the dispute, it is has become abundantly clear that we have no alternative but to ensure that all trade-markable items already associated with Star Control are protected to prevent confusion or dilution.
By trademarking terms Stardock does not own the copyrights for, nor has ever used in trade.  By misusing the trademark system to enact retaliatory actions against another party, which there articles against in trademark law.  By trademarking components not associated with Stardock's Star Control (tm) trademark.  Stardock's trademark for Star Control (tm) is just that... A text mark "Star Control" that is designed to label computer gaming products.  It's right there in documentation of the trademark.  There is nothing else associated with it.

Quote
Given that Paul and Fred have already tried to cancel our trademark, we became more motivated than ever to ensure that our considerable investment has as many vectors of protection as possible.
Stardock used the trademark against them.  If one uses a stick to hit someone, one should not be surprised if that someone tries to take the stick away and break it to prevent getting hit by it in the future.  Now it seems Stardock's tactic to the threat of getting the stick broken, is it get as many sticks as possible...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 21, 2018, 05:37:38 pm
Quote
The names are unique terms created by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III that given the context of the rest of the work are copyrighted.  Such unique terms have been used in copyright cases to determine whether a work is derivative or not.  There are many terms that Paizo cannot use for Pathfinder that are within the IP portfolio of Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons due to copyright.  Common words cannot be copyrighted, but uniquely created terms within context can be considered part of a copyrighted work.

They are welcome to try to challenge the trademarks then.  Unfortunately, the USPTO is unlikely to agree with you.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 24, 2018, 11:14:01 pm
(Moving this here from the PoNAF forums (http://www.star-control.com/community/viewtopic.php?p=26958#p26958) now that we're back up.)

Okay, so I've spent a good chunk of an afternoon reading legal briefs, including Stardock's First Amended Complaint (https://www.scribd.com/document/374525505/First-Amended-Complaint-Stardock-v-Paul-Reiche-and-Fred-Ford).  I'm sure there's a clinical diagnosis for people who do such things voluntarily, but anyway, I think I've managed to extract some of Stardock's line of legal argument.  As always, I Am Not A Lawyer; these are just my guesses based on a layman's understanding.

The first major point I see in Stardock's argument centers on their paragraph 16, and I think I've traced their logic to the Accolade agreement (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385486-2635-000-P-2018-02-22-17-Counterclaim.html) section 3.3 (Sequels), which has the same "sole and exclusive right" wording Stardock uses there.  I believe that Stardock is trying to read this section as being a perpetual grant of right.  This would give Accolade/Atari/Stardock the sole and perpetual right to create sequels to Star Control, and explain a lot of the claims I've seen Brad use on the various forums.

Arguments for why Section 3,3 could be considered not to terminate:
  • It does not directly specify a termination date.
  • It does not directly call the grant of right a "license" (Stardock explicitly argues that it is separate from the License Agreement).
  • Section 2.2 terminates the agreement with respect to "sales, licensing and sublicensing" when royalties drop below $1000.  If 3.3 isn't a license, it could be at least partially immune to this termination condition.
  • Section 7.2 specifies that when the agreement terminates, "licenses and sublicenses" granted by it are reassigned to Paul.  If 3.3 isn't a license, it could be considered immune to this effect.

Arguments for why Section 3,3 could still be considered to terminate:
  • Section 3.3 is a part of Section 3, which is titled "EXCLUSIVE LICENSE".  Arguably, this means that the all the rights in its subsections should be considered part of the License Agreement, which means they would revert to Paul on Termination per Section 7.2.
  • Even if 3.3 is not a license, Section 2.2 still terminates the agreement with respect to Sales, which would mean that Stardock could do everything 3.3 talks about, except actually sell anything.
  • Section 7.1, the Bankruptcy provision, reverts "all rights to all Work or Derivative Work" to Paul.  This would have been triggered by Atari's bankruptcy, and would appear to affect rights whether or not they are part of a License Agreement.


The second major point I see centers on Star Control III, and seem to be drawing several parts of their case out of interactions relating to that game:

    * In paragraph 32, Stardock makes an noteworthy definition:  They define the "Star Control Copyrights" specifically as the copyrighted materials in Star Control III.  This is probably because that's the only part that they have a copyright interest in.  Accolade registered the copyright to SC3, and Stardock's position seems to be that that registration gives them ownership of all of the assets in that title, including art, music, etc., even if they are derived from SC2 (so, the SC3 version of the Ur-Quan, for example).  I think the key question here is how the court will interpret the Accolade agreement paragraph 11.4 (Ownership).  Stardock seems to be saying that since Accolade made all of the art in the game, that art should be considered a "Derivative work by Publisher", which Accolade would own.  But that paragraph also says that such ownership is "subject to Developer's copyright in the Work" ("the Work" being SC2 and its setting/assets), and I'm not sure how to parse that.

    This is an interesting argument, and I'm not sure how a court will decide it.  If it were to go Stardock's way, that would mean that they would be able to continue to use the classic SC properties, as long as they were derived from the SC3 versions, and not the SC2 versions.  But a counterargument is that Accolade certainly didn't seem to think they could do that, as evidenced by the fact that they later paid Paul for an additional 3-year license for those same rights.

    * Paragraph 56 argues that P&F cannot claim to be the "Creators of Star Control", because they would unfairly be taking credit for Star Control III, which they were not involved in.  While that might seem a plausible argument to someone unfamiliar with the franchise, it seems disingenuous to me, because anyone who knows better would realize that nobody, least of all Paul&Fred, would want "credit" for SC3.

    * Paragraph 59 (and 98-101) complain that F&P were selling SC3 in violation of Stardock's copyright.  Which could be true...but it seems like F&P had gotten permission from Atari back when Atari owned the copyright, and Stardock had never revoked that permission until last October.  Stardock never alleges that F&P infringed their copyright after being notified that such permission was revoked, so I'm not sure there's any substance to these complaints.


Moving on to other issues, Stardock's argument for having a trademark to "The Ur-Quan Masters" seems to be that because Accolade held the trademark rights to SC2, it not only owns the "Star Control" registered trademark, but also any common law trademarks that the game might have, specifically including the game's subtitle, but also claiming any name, graphic, or design used by Accolade to market or publish the old games.

But I see a few problems with this:

    * This seems like a really expansive view of trademarkability to me; I'm not aware of any precedent for saying that every name and distinguishing feature of a product becomes its own trademark, and none of these things were marked (TM) in the game.  It would surprise me if one could claim trademarks so facilely.

    * Moreover, even if they were to have been trademarked, I think the UQM project's uncontested use of them for so many years would dilute whatever protection they had into unenforceabiliy.

    * Also, there's going to be a conflict here between Paul's copyright rights and Stardock's trademark rights.  I have no idea how to resolve those two areas of law.

Stardock also argues in para 26 that because they have been selling the classic SC games on GoG, they have been using all of these marks in recent commerce, thereby keeping them valid.  

    The problem here is that this only works if Stardock can show that it had the right to sell those games at all.  If all of the distribution rights expired before Stardock purchased them, then those sales were all illegal.  Some of Brad's posts have talked about the restoration of the DMCAed games on GoG as though that were a ruling on the merits of Stardock's ownership.  But a restoration by DMCA counterclaim is not a ruling on the merits; it just means the the host (GoG) is allowed to leave the accused infringing work up until a court decides the ownership question.

Paragraph 55 essentially argues that Paul doesn't have the copyright to the parts of SC2 that he didn't do personally.

    The issue here is even though Paragraph 11.4 of Paul's contract gives all of Accolade's copyrights in SC2 to Paul, if Paul brought in outside people to work on the game (artists, composers, etc.) without having them sign a copyright assignment or written "work-for-hire" agreement, those people would retain personal ownership of the copyright of their respective contributions.

A couple final observations on the amended complaint:

    * There were many places where they added the escape phrase "Upon Information and Belief" to assertions that were previously lacking it.  This is the difference between saying "I swear that X is true" and "I think that X is true", so that you don't get hauled up on perjury charges if it's false.  That doesn't mean that they're deliberately saying anything untrue, of course; it could just be standard lawyer safe practice.  But it does give them more room to say things they're not sure of.

    * There are an awful lot of assertions of "irreparable harm" in places where it seems like monetary damages would be perfectly sufficient to cure the harm.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 25, 2018, 09:27:18 am
A good read as always, Elestan.

But things are moving pretty quickly as Dogar and Kazon have released another "potshot" at the void via their blog:
https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2018/3/24/nope-and-nope

Stardock rejected it, apparently. In addition to that, they released all the settlement documents in its entirety.  I'm still waiting for Brad's take on this before I could form an opinion.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 25, 2018, 09:56:02 am
Seems pretty cut & dry why Stardock didn't take it.

Article 1(A) Would give P&F free reign to completely destroy what SC:Origins was meant to be. In turn destroying any semblance of a decent game, making it moot for Stardock to have even bought the rights to Star Control.

Anything that P&F didn't like that they can say *might* violate their copyright would be out in an instant, after that it would be an uphill battle to have the Origins storyline stay intact, considering how it's based around a multiverse where anything can happen and franchises could collide within the Star Control Universes.
I'm sure they also wouldn't want Stardock to release the modding tools to make modding UQM and Kessari into SC:O any kinds of easy.

I mean, I've already got a completed SCII starmap ready to go once I get ahold of the upcoming Alpha, and I'm working on flattening out the Kessari starmap as well.
Even if I didn't have the mod tools I currently have it's easy enough to make your own since it's all .xml files.

The ship designer would probably be the first thing to go if Stardock acquiesced with this settlement. Which would be a huge bummer, but not a game killer.
Would have to start looking into learning Blender, and picking the file formats apart to figure out a way to import models in.

I may have read 1(A) wrong, but I sure as hell ain't trusting their summary of it.
Just like Elestan picks apart Stardocks legal documents I'm sure as hell going to pick apart P&F's.
Can't have it all be one-sided here.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 25, 2018, 11:50:21 am
It seems to me Paul's settlement terms brings them back to their original contention - which was their disagreement to Stardock's assertion that Paul needs the former's approval to make Ghosts. Which then brings us back to their exhibits, the 1988 agreement texts, etc.

On the other hand, Stardock's settlement terms is purely based off of the SC trademark infringement damages- the extent of which, in my opinion, is incredibly overstated to the point that Paul has to give up their IP. (Not to mention the brunt of the backlash was Stardock's own doing). It is an unreasonable settlement designed to be rejected and in effect forcing Paul to fend off Stardock's new trademark applications for all the SC2 aliens in court.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 25, 2018, 12:24:27 pm
The new trademark applications have not yet been approved by the USPTO...

Anybody can file a comment regarding their view and arguments, especially if against granting a trademark which seems to trademark stuff which is already known, and thus coulld transfer the goodwill of someone else's product and work to the filer of a trademark.....


And yes, single words can be trademarked, see the trademark "Apple"... Which is currently considered to be the most valuable trademark worldwide.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 25, 2018, 01:58:42 pm
Article 1(A) Would give P&F free reign to completely destroy what SC:Origins was meant to be. In turn destroying any semblance of a decent game, making it moot for Stardock to have even bought the rights to Star Control.

What? Let's get this out here: Here is the entire Article 1(A):

Quote
Reiche shall not object to, interfere with, or challenge in any way, Stardock's development, publication, and/or distribution of Stardock OriginsÖ

Ö I'll cut in here to note that 'Stardock Origins' was defined on page 1 as the game Stardock is working on, entitled "Star Control: Origins"

Quote
Ö provided that Reiche's Work and Reiche's Retained Rights are not used in any way, at any time or in any manner with respect to or in association with such development, publication, or distribution, without prior notice to and the express written approval of Reiche. Provided further, however, nothing herein shall be deemed to restrict or expand any otherwise legal use of Reiche's Work or Reiche's Retained Rights (e.g. fair use, individual and personal non-commercial use, etc.) by anyone.

Did you think that they were trying to force them to change the name? They weren't.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 25, 2018, 04:00:26 pm
They have previously demanded internal builds to inspect them.

They demanded we take our Super Melee.
They demanded we take out the ship designer.
They demanded we change the Earthling ship.

Iíd call that interference.

Saying they wonít interfere...as long as we do as they say is not very useful.

That aside, itís irrelevant.  Any settlement will have to absolutely protect Stardockís IP rights and investments and address the damage theyíve done. 

We just want to bring a new Star Control game out. Weíve worked 4 years on it and itís coming together great. Paul and Fred were offered the IP at cost and declined.

We want to see their story continue. But given the insanity of the past few months, that is only going to happen through mutual agreement.   


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 25, 2018, 04:33:24 pm
They have previously demanded internal builds to inspect them.
They demanded we take our Super Melee.
They demanded we take out the ship designer.
They demanded we change the Earthling ship.

I don't see those demands in their settlement proposal.  In fact, they don't look too far from the terms I proposed on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/863a5x/creative_and_tangible_solutions_to_the_impasse/dw26t5e/) that you said were very close to what you had proposed in October.  I don't see an impossible distance between those positions.  If they were to tighten up the language on what was infringing so that it didn't require so much subjective interpretation, and you could come to terms on what constituted reasonable expectations with regard to user-generated content (I posted some ideas about this on Reddit), I could see an agreement being reached.  If there are other clauses in their proposal that you think are problematic, by all means post the specific concern so that we can understand it.

Of course, that is assuming that you are still open to compromise.  If what they posted as your proposed settlement is accurate...well, let's be honest:  That document really didn't have any hint of compromise in it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 25, 2018, 04:47:14 pm
See my above post.

Any settlement must ensure that the nonsense of the last few months will never happen again and recognizes the damage theyíve caused.  The courts will be a lot less gentle with them.  There will be no settlement offers from us.

Like I have said, I just wanted to make a new Star acontrol game.  And over the past few months Iíve instead been subjected to an endless stream of abuse backed by poorly rationalized explanations for why I deserve to be insulted, threatened, ridiculed, etc.  so yes, at this point, we have zero interest in any settlement. Theyíve lost a fan.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 25, 2018, 05:02:20 pm
They have previously demanded internal builds to inspect them.
They demanded we take our Super Melee.
They demanded we take out the ship designer.
They demanded we change the Earthling ship.

I don't see those demands in their settlement proposal.

No shit, that is what they wanted out of Origins before their settlement offer. But Agreement I(A) would give them legal grounds to enforce it.

As a side observation, for a guy who throws around "I Am Not A Layer" constantly you sure try to act like one.
Do you not realize how annoying that is?

It's actually amusing how involved with it you are. If you're up for it I suggest getting a legal degree and pass the Bar.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 25, 2018, 05:46:42 pm
They have previously demanded internal builds to inspect them.
They demanded we take our Super Melee.
They demanded we take out the ship designer.
They demanded we change the Earthling ship.

I don't see those demands in their settlement proposal.

No shit, that is what they wanted out of Origins before their settlement offer. But Agreement I(A) would give them legal grounds to enforce it.
That's essentially their counter-claim in a nutshell- i.e. protecting their IP.  Stardock claims Paul does not own the IP, hence the legal battle. We're back to square one.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 25, 2018, 06:28:47 pm

Before the lawyers were involved, this was Stardock's position:
(https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Snagit/media/8fdf0b21-2219-464c-bec4-9813c65434e6/03.25.2018-12.27.png)

This is all available here:
https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Zelnik on March 25, 2018, 08:14:33 pm
See... Frogboy, you have lied an awful lot. Why would be believe you when Fred and Paul haven't lied to us?

Seriously, why even come here? Are you trying to win us over? Your company is -suing- the creators of this game.

At BEST you will have some people disinterested, but in general, we will not accept your words and trust you on, essentially, anything. You could tell me the color of an orange and I would suspect you painted a lemon.

Ultimately, you have shot yourself in the foot because you are trying to block their right to create their next game. No one will support you after doing that.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 25, 2018, 08:18:27 pm
See... Frogboy, you have lied an awful lot. Why would be believe you when Fred and Paul haven't lied to us?

Seriously, why even come here? Are you trying to win us over? Your company is -suing- the creators of this game.

The fact that he's engaging here at all is a point in his favor; and I commend him for doing it.  It's worth noting the Paul and Fred have not engaged in discussion here or anywhere else...which is probably better legal strategy, but also less open.  So please don't discourage his participation.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 25, 2018, 08:45:48 pm
Just like Elestan picks apart Stardocks legal documents I'm sure as hell going to pick apart P&F's.

Sounds great; the more the merrier!

Okay, there are probably diminishing returns there, but I welcome having someone challenge me on my analysis.  Frogboy has occasionally said that I'm getting things wrong, but he's never specific enough for me to do anything about it.

I don't see those demands in their settlement proposal.

No shit, that is what they wanted out of Origins before their settlement offer. But Agreement I(A) would give them legal grounds to enforce it.

I don't see that.  I(a) is a limitation on Reiche, not a grant of authority.  I do think that it is less of a limitation on Reiche than Stardock needs for its assurances, because the definition of "Reiche's Work" includes terms that are too subjective.

Quote
As a side observation, for a guy who throws around "I Am Not A Layer" constantly you sure try to act like one.

While I'm not a lawyer, I have worked with lawyers on a variety of documents, and I've been reading court filings and opinions for a couple of decades.  I'll confess the conceit that I think I'm a little better at it than the average Redditor.  What would the alternative be?  The two parties' legal briefs (and now the settlement proposals) are the most reliable sources of information on what's really going on with the case.  If we want to know what's going on, someone has to read them, and I don't see a real lawyer stepping forward.

I'd rather not have to use the disclaimer, but I could get in legal trouble if I give the impression of actually being a lawyer when I'm not.

Quote
It's actually amusing how involved with it you are. If you're up for it I suggest getting a legal degree and pass the Bar.

I'll take that as a compliment, but I just happen to have some spare time at the moment - enough to read some briefs and post about them, but not enough to go to law school.  Besides, I prefer reading computer code; it's a lot like legal code, but even more rigorously defined.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 25, 2018, 09:02:39 pm
Any settlement must ensure that the nonsense of the last few months will never happen again and recognizes the damage theyíve caused.

I agree with you up to that point.

Quote
And over the past few months Iíve instead been subjected to an endless stream of abuse backed by poorly rationalized explanations for why I deserve to be insulted, threatened, ridiculed, etc.  so yes, at this point, we have zero interest in any settlement.

...but I hope that if there was an offer on the table that did resolve your business concerns, you'd be able to set your personal grievances aside, for the good of everyone involved.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 25, 2018, 09:08:25 pm

I don't see that.  I(a) is a limitation on Reiche, not a grant of authority.  I do think that it is less of a limitation on Reiche than Stardock needs for its assuarances, because the definition of "Reiche's Work" includes terms that are too subjective.
Because that is still based on Human language, which does require interpretation.
On top of that, "Reiche's Work" is not defined in all its borders, and after all this time likely only a judge can decide where the border is.

 Besides, I prefer reading computer code; it's a lot like legal code, but even more rigorously defined.
It is also a lot less prone to misinterpretation.
And if there is room for misinterpretation, the parser/compiler usually tells you so, and even in which line....
And if a misinterpretation does happen, there's usually a reason like a misspelling, or simply a faulty formula,...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 25, 2018, 10:05:59 pm
See... Frogboy, you have lied an awful lot. Why would be believe you when Fred and Paul haven't lied to us?

Could you either be considerably more specific in this and post evidence, or stop making the accusation?

I have seen things Frogboy has said that I disagree with, and things where I think he's perhaps viewing things from an up-too-close perspective, perhaps even a self-serving one, and some other things that are barely technically trueÖ but that does not elevate to lies.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Shiver on March 25, 2018, 10:54:07 pm
I have seen things Frogboy has said that I disagree with, and things where I think he's perhaps viewing things from an up-too-close perspective, perhaps even a self-serving one,

Perhaps?  :P


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 25, 2018, 11:18:14 pm
Į\_(ツ)_/Į

I'm not a mind reader.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 26, 2018, 01:27:32 am

I'll take that as a compliment, but I just happen to have some spare time at the moment - enough to read some briefs and post about them, but not enough to go to law school.

I meant it as a compliment.

Quote
 Besides, I prefer reading computer code; it's a lot like legal code, but even more rigorously defined.

Maybe you can help me figure out why, in UQM-HD/MegaMod, the orbit lines skew in solar system view on OS X if built on anything newer than Xcode 3.2.6. (https://github.com/Serosis/UQM-MegaMod/issues/7)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 01:38:39 am
I meant it as a compliment.

Great...then, thanks!

Quote
Maybe you can help me figure out why, in UQM-HD/MegaMod, the orbit lines skew in solar system view on OS X if built on anything newer than Xcode 3.2.6. (https://github.com/Serosis/UQM-MegaMod/issues/7)

Sorry; I do Windows and Linux, but I don't have a Mac.  Maybe try screwing around with some of the floating-point compiler options?

Does it build with Clang on Windows?  If so, you could see whether it has the same problem, which would be another data point.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 26, 2018, 04:11:58 am

Does it build with Clang on Windows?  If so, you could see whether it has the same problem, which would be another data point.

Me and darklord 42 tried it with Clang/LLVM on Linux and it didn't have the issue. So far it seems to be a very specific macOS related bug.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: HisDivineShadw on March 26, 2018, 06:00:21 am
See... Frogboy, you have lied an awful lot. Why would be believe you when Fred and Paul haven't lied to us?

Seriously, why even come here? Are you trying to win us over? Your company is -suing- the creators of this game.

At BEST you will have some people disinterested, but in general, we will not accept your words and trust you on, essentially, anything. You could tell me the color of an orange and I would suspect you painted a lemon.

Ultimately, you have shot yourself in the foot because you are trying to block their right to create their next game. No one will support you after doing that.

Fred and Paul haven't lied or mislead, how do you know this, did you recently speak to god almighty?   (rhetorical don't answer please)
They couldn't of cherry pick statements, then post them, and leave no avenue of inquire to their statements, would they? No no, they are above that, I'm sure.
"We" , I think you mean you. I think you like lemons.
Who's blocking who is the question,
Speak for yourself.


Title: A couple of new insights
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 08:19:34 am
So, I spent some time today trying to figure out why Stardock and Brad have been claiming that they have non-trademark-related rights to exclusively make new Star Control games.  I think I managed to trace their argument, and I've updated my earlier post (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77137#msg77137).  If anyone wants to check my work, I would welcome it - this is now the 'first major point' there.

Additionally, I am revising my previously stated opinion that Stardock had not seen the 1988 agreement prior to the countercomplaint, based on two pieces of evidence:
  • The language in Stardock's complaint paragraph 16 matches specific language in the 1988 agreement, such that I do not believe it could have been written without that agreement.
  • Brad admitted that Stardock had a copy (https://forum.quartertothree.com/t/stardock-owns-star-control-and-is-planning-an-xcom-like-reboot/73054/583) on Qt3; in fact, he suggests that Paul got his copy from Stardock,

I now believe that Stardock did have that agreement, but has been interpreting its rights under it more expansively than most people who read it (including Paul).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 26, 2018, 09:15:37 am
For all the talk about how this "could have been avoided", it could still be avoided.

Starting a lawsuit doesn't make a settlement less possible. If anything it should make one more possible. It should force the parties to come to an agreement.

I read Paul and Fred's terms of settlement. They agree to stop contesting the Trademark issue. They effectively draw a clean line between them and Stardock that stops them from trying to free ride on each other's names (or acquired name, in the case of Star Control). Stardock would withdraw their new trademark application for the classic aliens and UQM, and Stardock would agree not to use the original aliens -- the ones they allegedly promised they wouldn't use in the first place.

Signing that agreement would literally avoid all of this.

The "could have been avoided" implies that there is some roadblock to resolution. Right now, the most obvious roadblock is Stardock's unwillingness to sign the agreement. And given Stardock's absurdity of a settlement offer, it's not because of some small defect in Paul and Fred's offer. There's no desire to actually avoid this.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 26, 2018, 10:15:39 am
Well, the FF/PR offer also includes the requirement for Stardock to hand over the SC3 sourcecode, and the SC1/SC2/SC3 distribution rights, to the UQM project, so that these games would only be available via the UQM project.

That's a pretty one-sided requriement, and especially the SC3 has very little to do with the trademark and copyright infringement discussions before court right now.
(Yes, I know, some of the SC3 stuff comes from the SC2 copyrights, and therefore SC3 requires a license from FF/PR to be distributed.)

I was still wondering why this was included in the settlement offer.

I know Stardock claimed that this is their intention anyway, yet.....

It made me somewhat go "What? Why?" in the settlement counteroffer.

Both "settlement offers" read a lot like "settlement demands" to me.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: PRH on March 26, 2018, 11:22:44 am
Both "settlement offers" read a lot like "settlement demands" to me.

Heh. Captain Obvious comes to the rescue. :P

On the serious side, I do agree that "Reiche's Retained Rights" need to be defined much more rigorously, because given the most pessimistic definition, it would mean that Stardock would have to basically rewrite Origins from scratch in order to purge the game of any UI or gameplay elements that resemble the classic SC games. That won't do.

But neither will Stardock's "settlement offer". If Stardock succeeds in enforcing it, they would basically shut down GotP's development and strip F&P of any rights to anything related to the Star Control franchise, including their own past work. As far as I can see, this is the worst-case scenario for all SC fans. And I'm not going to rule out the possibility of Stardock pulling it off - the way Brad words his posts, he sounds as though he has already won the lawsuit. The situation is extremely dangerous here.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 26, 2018, 03:09:29 pm
What UI or gameplay elements could be considered so similar as to be part of Reiche's Retained Rights (proposed abbreviation: RRR)? Is it really so similar to SC2 that it isn't more similar to other games of independent provenance? Or is the pessimist here being intentionally obtuse and pretending that RRR includes the space adventure game genre?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 03:51:49 pm
What UI or gameplay elements could be considered so similar as to be part of Reiche's Retained Rights (proposed abbreviation: RRR)? Is it really so similar to SC2 that it isn't more similar to other games of independent provenance? Or is the pessimist here being intentionally obtuse and pretending that RRR includes the space adventure game genre?

The one that Brad has been most vocal about has been Super-Melee, and I'm actually sympathetic to Stardock on that point.  In my opinion, "Super-Melee" is too generic a term to warrant exclusivity, as is the concept of a spaceship dueling arena.  I think that the language in Paul's Proposed Settlement should be tightened up to make it clear that this is permissible, including removing from the rights definition "contest", "characteristics", "settings" (in the technical, not literary sense), and "User Interface/User Experience".

In my opinion, the heart and soul of SC2 was the universe, the storyline, and the distinctive races, and those are the parts that Paul should retain exclusivity on.  As long as Stardock doesn't use ship names or likenesses from SC2, it should be able to have its own "Super-Melee".

The other big issue I see is what is reasonable to expect of Stardock with regard to user-generated content. Paul's Proposed Settlement says that Stardock will not 'allow' or 'permit', and will 'prevent' the use of Reiche's work.  My opinion is that expecting them to pro-actively police it all is not a reasonable burden to impose.

Here is what I proposed on Reddit:
  • Stardock won't make any infringing content itself, nor will it distribute such content in any sort of curated package.
  • User-generated content not hosted by Stardock is not Stardock's responsibility. If some 3rd-party modder puts an Ur-Quan skin up on another website, P&F can go after that 3rd-party directly if they want.
  • For user-generated content on Stardock's website or cloud, Stardock basically does it the way the DMCA says to: They don't have to police it themselves, but if they get a notice from Paul/Fred of an infringing creation, they'll take it down within a reasonable response time. If the creator objects (counter-notices), then Stardock can put it back up, and it's up to P&F to decide if they want to sue the infringer. That's how YouTube and other sites handle this sort of stuff, so it makes sense to use that model here. They can also ban the literal use of ship/race names from the classic games; that's a very finite set of words to look for.

As a practical matter, I would expect Paul and Fred to have better things to do than police Stardock's website, unless someone's infringement gets pretty egregious.  

It's also worth noting that lots of companies are likely to want similar arrangements.  I'm certain that people are going to make Star Trek and Star Wars ships, for example, and Stardock will need to have a process for what to do if Disney or Paramount decide to take issue with that.  Paul should receive the same treatment for ships he has the rights to.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 26, 2018, 05:36:18 pm
The one that Brad has been most vocal about has been Super-Melee, and I'm actually sympathetic to Stardock on that point.  In my opinion, "Super-Melee" is too generic a term to warrant exclusivity, as is the concept of a spaceship dueling arena.  
I fully agree here.
Melee is the definition of close-up battle.
Why would the addition of "Super" make that a special thing?
Furthermore, StarControl has not been the first game with such a fighting arena, and a point of gravity within that arena.
Spacewar! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacewar!) had all of that already.

I don't see much of an enforceable IP there.


And furthermore I do agree with Elestan. Once again.
Stardock will need rather sooner than later after publication a system to implement DMCA takedown notices.
StarTrek and StarWars indeed seem the most likely IPs being leaned on by the users, but also Futurama and other SciFi series.
StarControl (original series, especially episodes II and IV) may also crop up. (Although now with UQM, it might also be difficult to enforce, as UQM is publicly available for free and open source. I may be that just the commercial usage may be blocked, thus as Elestan proposed, no hosting on Stardocks servers, no advertising/packaging/programming of that content into "preferred packages" by Stardock either. This depends on the exact language used for the UQM licenses (user, and within the gifting of FF/PR3)).

But then, Stardock with their previous attempts at allowing user content for some of their games pretty likely has a good idea of how to handle 3rd party IP submissions anyway.
That's not something I am really worried about.
As a "user" I find software allowing user content to be generated and played preferential to fixed game-play software.
It simply allows for more re-playability. Thus usually giving more worth for the money spent.


BTW:
Quote from: https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred (https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred), Stardock forums
Paul and Fred's PR firm targets Stardock CEO, Brad Wardell personally on Twitter for abuse with an inflammatory and completely inaccurate social media post. (https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Snagit/media/cd462957-2d7b-4128-9cdf-aac5c827f60d/03.23.2018-11.03.png) (March)
(click to show/hide)
That tweet is (legally) not by FF and PR, but by someone else. Someone that has (likely) close ties to PR and FF, and as PR company someone who should know better and would not need to have to hide behind the first amendment.
It is inflammatory, yes. But whether it is "completely inaccurate" will be the decision of a judge.
So far, my personal opinion is that Stardock seems to have bullied FF and PR, and pushed the boundary of the IP limits pretty hard.
Also referring to this in Stardocks Q+A is also inflammatory.
But at this point in the discussion, everything has become inflammatory.


I cry inside, because my beloved memories and stories I associate with "Star Control" do not deserve this.
Neither side looks good, and I fear the judge will only decide who is the lesser and who is the bigger loser.



edit: just thought about renaming UQM in Europe to Star Control, but Stardock was faster:
They applied for "STAR CONTROL" at the OHIM/EU-IPO on 5 December 2017. (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/017560715 (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/017560715), classes 9, 41, 42)
opposition period for that is running (until 10 May 2018), and there are others who requested "Star Control" for some of the same "Nice-classification" classes: (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#basic/1+1+1+1/100+100+100+100/star%20control (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#basic/1+1+1+1/100+100+100+100/star%20control), notably
- "perma STAR CONTROL", by perma-tec also for class 9;
- "STAR control" by KrŁger offshort for classes 9, 42;
- "STAR[image of a star between the words]CONTROL" by Hubert Burda Media Holding also for class 41

So, all three classes have prior entries.
So far no opposition has been filed.


Nice classification (http://www.wipo.int/classifications/nice/nclpub/en/fr/20180101/hierarchy/class-42/?basic_numbers=show&explanatory_notes=show&lang=en&menulang=en&mode=flat&pagination=no (http://www.wipo.int/classifications/nice/nclpub/en/fr/20180101/hierarchy/class-42/?basic_numbers=show&explanatory_notes=show&lang=en&menulang=en&mode=flat&pagination=no)), and the most notable sub-classes this will likely all be about:
class 9: Scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; compact discs, DVDs and other digital recording media; mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment, computers; computer software; fire-extinguishing apparatus.
*090658 computer programs [downloadable software]
*090670 computer game software
*090717 computer software applications, downloadable
class 41: Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
*410094: game services provided on-line from a computer network
class 42: Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: llamaparlante on March 26, 2018, 06:13:42 pm
Excuse me if I meddle, but ... hey guys, a couple of years ago we would have killed
for having the sequel to the game that fascinated us so much, and now that it is in front of us,
it vanishes.

I remember when you made the petition, I also signed it, and I'm sure many of you too.
Because we wanted to see the continuation of the story. We wanted to know where the Orzs came from,
what happened to the Androsynth, and what happened to all the other races after the fall of the Hierarchy, etc.
Who would tell us what happened better than the true creators of the game?

Brad, if you're a fan too, I'm sure you'll think the same, you want to know how the story will continue.
So please, try to reach a good term for both. Do not look for a kind of "revenge".
The proposal of Paul and Fred's blog seems fair to me.
I am sure that if the two games come out tomorrow, many of us would buy both.

(Sorry for my english)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: bum783 on March 26, 2018, 07:05:55 pm
I have been super critical about Origins not being a true sequel. Recently I have been reading more about their ideas about the multiverse. I have to say it peaked  my curiosity. Previously I stated I just wanted to see the true sequel we have been waiting for. BUT I will admit I find myself more and more interested in what Stardock is producing. That just makes me more upset by all this, because now I want BOTH games. Anything less will be a disappointment. Furthermore if only 1 game gets made, ill have to be pissed at the producers of that game for ruining the other game..... Id rather re-live my parents divorce than keep reading about this. My parents were more cordial to each other.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 26, 2018, 07:34:47 pm
As Death has mentioned, I am often too close to the situation to be objective.  But I am genuinely trying to understand how people who say they're outraged about trademarking the aliens names are okay with Paul and Fred's demand to own things they obviously didn't create:

(https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Jing/media/d2ebd166-aff9-4d03-9599-6a8c6ae4c414/2018-03-26_1229.png)

That's right from their proposal.

Riku is the primary composer for Star Control: Origins.  Since when do Paul and Fred own his music? The Hyperspace theme is part of Star Control: Origins for instance.  It doesn't belong to Paul and Fred.   The "and any other similar materials or other such work present in the classic Star Control games" makes it pretty obvious what their intentions are.  There's no hand-waving that away.

Paul and Fred have complained about the UI in Star Control: Origins.  For instance, the layout of Fleet Battles.  But that's only the beginning of t.

Stardock has been very clear from the start that Star Control: Origins is very much a Star Control game of the same vein as Star Control II (and Starflight for that matter).  Their settlement would, in effect, give them the power to kill our project and begin laying claim to our other games as well (Galactic Civilizations, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc.).

And that doesn't even touch on the other problems with it.  That's just a sample from a single paragraph.

Since Paul and Fred like to release private documents, perhaps they should start posting all the emails and documents in which they complained about fan art posted on the Star Control forum and Steam and demands to change ships, features, UI, themes, etc.  And these were things they were demanding before the lawsuit.

This is what they consider to be a "win-win".  Kill our game and eliminate most of the value of the IP we acquired (that their fans say isn't valuable yet they seem to want to use it and keep us from making the full use of it).



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 26, 2018, 08:12:02 pm
When you rejected this offer, did you send it back with this sort of annotation and explanation? Or preferably even more?

I agree that 'themes' seems like a massive overreach, unless they meant something much more narrow than the face meaning of the word - and that seems likely - but that does mean they need to be more specific. I would expect that UI/UX elements was also similarly meant more narrowly, but they ought to be more specific.

Likenesses does not seem particularly objectionable, but I suppose further clarification to make absolutely sure that it isn't overly expansive would help.

On the sounds and music, thoughÖ if you were planning on using any of these sounds or music, who were you going to contact for permission to do so? Even if you're right that they don't have the rights,  that doesn't mean that you do. I suppose this agreement would prevent you from reaching an independent agreement with, say, Eric Berge, Dan Nicholson, or Riku Nuottajšrvi, to use their music, which would be a loss for you, if you intend to use them and they retain rights. I see the problem. If Riku retained rights to his work, then yes, he's totally clear to reuse it, and this would be a big concession from you to them.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 09:09:41 pm
As Death has mentioned, I am often too close to the situation to be objective.  But I am genuinely trying to understand how people who say they're outraged about trademarking the aliens names are okay with Paul and Fred's demand to own things they obviously didn't create

So, looking at the two proposals, Stardock's really is entirely one-sided; the essence of it is that they give you a bunch of stuff, lose all their rights to the UQM IP, not make any similar game for 5 years, and you drop the suit.  I think seeing those demands has convinced a lot of people that Stardock isn't being trying to be reasonable.  F&P's proposal, while it still has problems, does have some give and take in it that could form the basis for a real agreement.  So that's why they came out looking better than you from this round in the PR fight.

You've noted some specific concerns with it here - and I agree with most of them.  So iterate, negotiate - that's what this process is supposed to be about.   I get that they've said things to piss you off personally, but that's really irrelevant to the business concerns of your company's profits and your employees' paychecks.  If you come back to F&P with a list of objections to their proposal, like the ones you just mentioned, and proposed fixes (take out the vague words, etc - I'm sure your lawyers can do them), you'll get back to looking like the reasonable one here.

In broad strokes, my opinion is that Stardock should be able to make its game, it should be able to have a ship combat arena, and it should be able to have user-designed ships.  Inevitably, Stardock is going to have to deal with the problem of users making ships that infringe someone else's copyright, whether its from the old Star Control, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.  That's going to be an issue no matter how this lawsuit goes, and you'll probably need something like a DMCA procedure, just like other sites that allow user content have.  Infringements against the classic SC ships can be handled the same way as an X-Wing or Galaxy-Class Starship would be.

Quote
Riku is the primary composer for Star Control: Origins.  Since when do Paul and Fred own his music?

One big unknown here is whether F&P got a copyright assignment or work-for-hire agreement from the other contributors to the original games.  If they did, then I think they own the music.  If not, then it's probably owned by its creator.  I'm sure that legal language can be put in a settlement to deal with this.

Quote
Since Paul and Fred like to release private documents, perhaps they should start posting all the emails and documents in which they complained about fan art posted on the Star Control forum and Steam and demands to change ships, features, UI, themes, etc.  And these were things they were demanding before the lawsuit.

Well, I just suggested on Reddit that you both allow release of the entire email exchange, so that we can all judge for ourselves.  If they made unreasonable demands (like not having Super-Melee), the fans could put public pressure on them to get them to back off - I'm sure we'd like both games to have melee components.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on March 26, 2018, 09:24:26 pm
It's not like we're fixed, here - once I found out that you had hired Riku Nuottajšrvi to do the music, then suddenly the issues around not reusing music made a lot more sense and I updated towards your side.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 09:32:59 pm
It's not like we're fixed, here - once I found out that you had hired Riku Nuottajšrvi to do the music, then suddenly the issues around not reusing music made a lot more sense and I updated towards your side.

Ditto; I listen to the arguments, do my best to read the legal documents to figure out how solid everyone's claims are, and revise my opinion as new information comes to light.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 26, 2018, 09:46:20 pm
Riku is the primary composer for Star Control: Origins.  Since when do Paul and Fred own his music? The Hyperspace theme is part of Star Control: Origins for instance.  It doesn't belong to Paul and Fred.   The "and any other similar materials or other such work present in the classic Star Control games" makes it pretty obvious what their intentio
I do not know the type of contract FF and PR3 had with the BBS/usenet users who entered their music for the game...
I know they paid a small sum for each chosen piece, but do not know anything else.
Until they provide the details of the original "contracts", the music may be theirs or not.
I've also not heard of Riku, and what his opinion/memory is.

Paul and Fred have complained about the UI in Star Control: Origins.  For instance, the layout of Fleet Battles.  But that's only the beginning of t.
Here I agree mostly with Stardock.
Also, I've only seen glimpses of Starflight. So I do not know how much of the UI is based on previous games, nor merely the obvious choice in view of the information to be transmitted to the player. E.g. the actual battle seems pretty much like the obvious way to present the information, and therefore barely protectable IMHO.
The ship selector: same thing.
There are only a few ways you present the necessary information and still make sense on the screen.
It's like Apple's (tm) technical and design patents for rounded corners. Avery obvious thing, IMHO. Even with "hindsight".

Stardock has been very clear from the start that Star Control: Origins is very much a Star Control game of the same vein as Star Control II (and Starflight for that matter).  Their settlement would, in effect, give them the power to kill our project and begin laying claim to our other games as well (Galactic Civilizations, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc.).
That's always the risk when going to court.
Usually the other side reaches for maximum effect too.
And it's become obvious both sides will be losers.


Since Paul and Fred like to release private documents, perhaps they should start posting all the emails and documents in which they complained about fan art posted on the Star Control forum and Steam and demands to change ships, features, UI, themes, etc.  And these were things they were demanding before the lawsuit.
The fan art.... Indeed... But then, if Stardock uses that to promote its own game, it is leaning on the goodwill of the original copyrights to promote their own game, and thus created consumer confusion about the involvement of the creators of the original story/lore... But if it's only published by fans on Stardocks forums without Stardock using it for anything (thus "only" hosting), I'd find it on the harsh side.
But the new art you had commissioned, with the Spathi ship hanging in a corner? That's a reference to a game, which itself references many other creations. But here as well, you've been leaning on the goodwill I have for the original lore, which is copyrighted by FF and PR3.
I did see it hanging, but I did not attach any significance toi t when I first saw it.

This is what they consider to be a "win-win".  Kill our game and eliminate most of the value of the IP we acquired (that their fans say isn't valuable yet they seem to want to use it and keep us from making the full use of it).
Not all fans find the IP you bought valueless. I personally find you may have overpaid for it, but honestly I liked many ideas of SC3 (the Ortog, the devolvement, the Lk and their reason why they consider themselves to be the true heirs, the Exquivan monks, the Daktaklakpak (and their haywired degraded programming), the Kzer-Za who rebel and think the Kohr-Ah may have been right (although that does not fit the Kzer-Za as portrayed in SC2, especially if nearly all "defect"), the Harika/Yorn symbiosis and coevolution, the XChaggers), and I disliked many others (the characterisations used, the lack of Supox, ICOM, bubblewarp, the rotating starfield (which I also disliked in SC1, and always set it to stationary), the Eternal1s, the positioning of the Quasispaceportals, ...)
And the trademark name, of course.
But then, there have been other bidders as well, so there does indeed seem to be a marketprice which is higher than I thought.... (although the bid of second place remains unknown).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 26, 2018, 10:22:23 pm
I'm not as good at quoting as you are.

Re who owns music:
https://web.archive.org/web/20041220073812/http://www.classicgaming.com:80/starcontrol/history/fford2.shtml

Riku owns his music from SC2 according to Paul and Fred until this past week.

Re the type of game it is:
Unless they have a patent up their sleeve, they have no rights to the idea (unless we signed their agreement)


Re fan art
Copyrights have no good will.  Only trademarks.  If your argument involves the good will of something, then that belongs to the trademark which Stardock owns.  Paul and Fred have no trademarks, common law or otherwise in Star Control.

Re value of the trademark
The value of the trademark is whether it buys $300,000 or more of market awareness in today's market.  And that is obvious.  We have spent far more in advertising on game releases.  With Star Control, people instantly know what type of game it is.  The hard-core fans might care deeply about the lore but most fans might vaguely recall a green caterpillar alien and most consumers will just remember having a good time shooting each other in Super-Melee and having a cool adventures.  The majority of consumers won't have heard of it either way.

I've been participating on this forum for a number of years now.  I would like to think I've established a little bit of good will.  I've done the best I can at being honest and forthcoming and transparent on these matters.

So with that in mind: I personally think that the only way the two sides are going to be able to resolve this is through the courts.  I think the court is the right venue because those judging it will be dispassionate and focused on applying the law.  You can't have settlement negotiations with people who you can't even trust to keep documents that are supposed to remain confidential to not post them on their blog and hire a PR firm to attack us on social media.   The court date isn't even that far into the future, relatively speaking. It's June 24, 2019. 

By then, Star Control: Origins will be released and hopefully fans will be delighted with the love and care we've put into it over these years to bring back the franchise.





Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 26, 2018, 10:49:27 pm
Had to press "next", but found it:
Quote from: web.archive, PoNaF, 23 December 2004 (https://web.archive.org/web/20041223202106/http://www.classicgaming.com:80/starcontrol/history/fford3.shtml)
: I was wondering if you'd mind me putting my own version of your song on the CD... And secondly, I was wondering if I could put the 3DO version of the
Hyperspace theme on the next project of mine, a remix CD.

TFB has no problem with your using the songs, but I don't know if that carries much weight. We told the various musicians who did work for the game that we would
license the use of that music only for the game. So ultimately the owner of the music would be the writer who, in this case, is Riku. If you are selling the CD there may
be some legal ramifications. If not, it's probably no big deal, but you probably should check.

The 3DO remix was done by a fellow named Burke Treischmann who is a really nice guy. He probably wouldn't mind although, again, I don't really know if his O.K.
is the ultimate O.K. I would suspect that Riku would still be the potential stumbling block.
It looks like you're right.
Although the text thereis sufficiently unclear whether they licensed it for all games, or whether Riku is free to relicense if for any other, even similar games, too.
Currently I am inclined to say the latter, that Riku is free to license the sound to you too, even for the same purpose for a similar game.
Which would invoke memories of the goodwill I associate with their story.
But it would be within your right to license it for this purpose.


Edit: I wonder what this means for UQM, if the license could be transferred that easily to the open source project.... Or whether UQM can be considered to be the same game sufficiently to transfer the license from SC2 to UQM, or whether FF and/or PR contacted the original music creators to get their agreement for this new publication....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 26, 2018, 11:32:05 pm
What I can say is that this community matters a great deal to me personally.

I lurked on here for years before creating an account 5 or so years ago.  But I have great admiration for it.

I think the people here are very fair minded and if anyone here should feel bad it's me.  If I knew that our revival of Star Control would create this kind of drama, we wouldn't have done it.  Do I think Ghosts would have happened? No.  But at least there would still be the undiluted good cheer. 

I know for myself how terribly I've felt about this whole thing. For almost my entire adult life, Paul and Fred were my heroes.  Fred the god coder and Paul who was not a one-hit wonder but imagined hit after hit.  Mail Order Monsters.  Archon. and of course Star Control.

The most embarrassing thing, in hindsight,is that I major part of my motivation was for them to be pleased with what we had created.  I really thought that if we showed them how good Star Control: Origins was, that they might leave Activision and I would build a studio around them to create games around their imaginations.  That is the, apparently, delusion I operated on for 5 years.

When Derek and I met Paul and Fred (contrary to their statement, we have met in person, they came to our booth and we were supposed to have dinner but our schedules got tight) I was just speechless. I must have looked like just a total fool in hindsight just looking on while Derek did most of the talking. 

I've made a lot of games over the years and developed many technologies that are on your PC right now.  My "fortune" has come from the tech and software, not the games.  But with Star Control, I thought we had the opportunity to give something back.  That the community I cared about, UQM in particular, had waited for years for a new Star Control game.  And if Paul and Fred couldn't do it (and as you know, I offered it to them at our cost) then we would.

I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.  But I hope you guys do understand how important this all is to us.  We could have just as easily called it Stellar Frontier and made a somewhat different game.  But I really believe in what Star Control represents.  This became doubly true after I saw "No Man's Sky" that mistook, IMO, exploration for exploration's sake as a reason unto itself.    Star Control is special because it combines deep lore with lots of subtlety with exploration.

Anyway, it's been a tough couple of weeks as you can imagine.  If you want to know how I feel, imagine having Paul and Fred represent you as they have represented me recently.  It's absolutely crushing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 26, 2018, 11:36:46 pm
Riku owns his music from SC2 according to Paul and Fred until this past week.
https://web.archive.org/web/20041220073812/http://www.classicgaming.com:80/starcontrol/history/fford2.shtml

I tracked down this quote:
Quote from: FredFord
We told the various musicians who did work for the game that we would license the use of that music only for the game.

So Riku owns the copyright  One question left there is whether the license was exclusive.  Based on the fact that they've already released derivative works as the Precursors without any argument from P&F, I would assume it was not.  There could be other questions here about the license terms that it's probably not worth speculating about until we can find some documentation on them.

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Re the type of game it is:
Unless they have a patent up their sleeve, they have no rights to the idea (unless we signed their agreement)

No argument there; I think any settlement should make it clear that you can make a game with some of the same basic ideas (a spacefaring RPG/Action, with a linked arena combat system).

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If your argument involves the good will of something, then that belongs to the trademark which Stardock owns.

There is one point of quibble here.  There could be a lot of good will and reputation that attached to Paul and Fred personally for having made such a great game.  That good will belongs to them, and not to the Star Control franchise.

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Paul and Fred have no trademarks, common law or otherwise in Star Control.

True as such, but I think there is a caveat here too:  There is an argument that when Star Control stopped being sold, and three more years elapsed, all of Accolade's trademarks became vulnerable.  When Paul released Ur-Quan Masters (effectively a new product, which contained most of those same marks (specifically including the subtitle, but excluding packaging and the "Star Control" registered mark itself), and Accolade knew, but did not object or defend them, it further forfeited any right to enforce those unregistered common-law trademarks.

So, I think there is a strong argument that nobody has any common law trademarks in the old games at this point.

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The value of the trademark is whether it buys $300,000 or more of market awareness in today's market.  And that is obvious.  We have spent far more in advertising on game releases.  With Star Control, people instantly know what type of game it is.  The hard-core fans might care deeply about the lore but most fans might vaguely recall a green caterpillar alien and most consumers will just remember having a good time shooting each other in Super-Melee and having a cool adventures.  The majority of consumers won't have heard of it either way.

I can't speak to how many fans of the original game are still playing such games, or what percentage of them know enough about the games for their goodwill to attach to P&F rather than the game franchise.   But certainly, Star Control 3 made a lot of people more aware of the fact that quality comes more from the people involved than it does from a name.

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I've been participating on this forum for a number of years now.  I would like to think I've established a little bit of good will.  I've done the best I can at being honest and forthcoming and transparent on these matters.

Well, you've dodged answering some of the questions and points I've raised here.  But I do recognize that parties in a lawsuit can't always be fully forthcoming.

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So with that in mind: I personally think that the only way the two sides are going to be able to resolve this is through the courts.  I think the court is the right venue because those judging it will be dispassionate and focused on applying the law.

I still think there's room for a settlement, but it takes two to tango, and I'm not even on the *dancing* floor.

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You can't have settlement negotiations with people who you can't even trust to keep documents that are supposed to remain confidential to not post them on their blog and hire a PR firm to attack us on social media.

So, you've made this confidentiality claim a number of times, but the basis cited on Stardock's website (Rule 408) does not seem to apply; it has to do with keeping settlement proposals confidential from the jury.  So you'll need to be more specific about why Paul & Fred had an obligation to keep these documents confidential before I can give weight to that argument.

Moreover, I think you can have settlement negotiations with such a person.  Settlement talks are about writing a set of rules, and public relations issues are orthogonal to that; the thing that matters is the words on the paper that everyone signs.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 26, 2018, 11:52:15 pm
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Well, you've dodged answering some of the questions and points I've raised here.  But I do recognize that parties in a lawsuit can't always be fully forthcoming.

I dodge your questions intentionally because even though I like you, you're annoying in that you give the illusion you have some understanding of IP law when you don't.   Nearly everything you write is incorrect and correcting you only would devulge legal strategy to Paul and Fred.

They are waging a PR war because their legal position is very shaky.  If you were half the Internet lawyer, you would have already figured out just exposed they are by now.

As I previously said, I think the courts are the right venue for this at this point. 



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 12:00:54 am
With Star Control, I thought we had the opportunity to give something back.  That the community I cared about, UQM in particular, had waited for years for a new Star Control game.  And if Paul and Fred couldn't do it (and as you know, I offered it to them at our cost) then we would.

I want to make sure you don't underestimate just how valuable a demonstration of good will that was; I do give you much credit for it.  And even though I now believe that you did have the Accolade contract at that point, it still looks like Paul was being coy about his claims over the IP licensing and distribution, and that's a point against him.

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I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.

I've heard worse.  I probably had worse, actually, but I've made a deliberate effort to try to be diplomatic.  I think I recall reading somewhere that you explicitly do not.

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Anyway, it's been a tough couple of weeks as you can imagine.  If you want to know how I feel, imagine having Paul and Fred represent you as they have represented me recently.  It's absolutely crushing.

I do feel for you.  And if you'd back away from some of the more aggressive tactics, I could really get behind you.  I (and probably many others) want you to make a great game, and would back you against P&F if they're being d*cks about keeping you from making a great game.  But that applies the other way too; when you started doing things that would keep them from making their own game, you became the bad guy in the eyes of a lot of people.  You could still recover, if your actions show a desire to still get to a "two-game solution".

Hmm...maybe I shouldn't draw analogies to the Mid-East peace process.  :-P


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 12:16:49 am
I dodge your questions intentionally because even though I like you, you're annoying in that you give the illusion you have some understanding of IP law when you don't.   Nearly everything you write is incorrect and correcting you only would devulge legal strategy to Paul and Fred.

They are waging a PR war because their legal position is very shaky.  If you were half the Internet lawyer, you would have already figured out just exposed they are by now.

Well, on such a public forum, I hope that anyone with a better grasp of IP law than me will jump on me when I make a mistake.  I certainly could be wrong, but I haven't gotten many corrections, so that means that everyone else is as least as ignorant as I am.  But saying that I'm wrong without explaining yourself is like talking about the overreaching demands P&F made that you can't show us; the words just don't have weight without evidence.  If you ever decide to show me why I'm wrong, you could move my position considerably.

As for revealing legal strategy, if the court is just going to dispassionately apply the law, there shouldn't need to be any sort of secrets, should there?  It should look at the evidence and the law, and the conclusion should just fall out.  :-)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 27, 2018, 02:17:16 am
Just as a matter of law, you absolutely can copyright a User Interface. It would be infringement to copy art, and it would be infringement to copy code. A UI is art and code. There's precedent for this.

Courts do require a lot of similarity before they might consider it an infringing copy, but point is, it's absolutely reasonable for a copyright holder to ask someone not to copy their UI. The same way that it's reasonable for a Trademark holder not to ask people to not copy their Trademark.

The issue of similarity is just a matter of details, and that can absolutely be hashed out between reasonable people.

And music can obviously be copyrighted. The same way that Stardock is trying to argue that P&F's work is owned by Accolade because they worked for Accolade, it's pretty reasonable to make the same argument about Riku working for P&F. The difference is we can actually SEE the 1988 Accolade agreement that says P&F own the copyright (including the copyright listed on the game box). There's no public record of Riku Nuottajšrvi's agreement. Presumably based on what we know about the history of the game music, it was probably a contract with P&F, but it's not impossible that it was with Accolade.

Either way, Paul and Fred made some requests that are entirely consistent with being the copyright holder. If the legal language was unclear or messy, the answer was to fix it and make a counter offer. Instead, Stardock's offer is "you can't make a game even in the same genre for five years -- see you in court".

It's hard to square this with statements of wanting to avoid a battle.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 02:45:24 am
Just as a matter of law, you absolutely can copyright a User Interface. It would be infringement to copy art, and it would be infringement to copy code. A UI is art and code. There's precedent for this. Courts do require a lot of similarity before they might consider it an infringing copy, but point is, it's absolutely reasonable for a copyright holder to ask someone not to copy their UI. The same way that it's reasonable for a Trademark holder not to ask people to not copy their Trademark.

I wasn't suggesting that the UI wasn't copyrightable; my point was that I don't see a need for P&F to fight Stardock over UI similarities.  First off, that's a 25-year-old UI, and we can probably do better today.  But also, it's just not worth the pain and annoyance of fighting over exactly what Stardock is allowed to do and where the line is between too similar and not.  I think the things that visually matter are the alien races, the characters, and the ships.  If Stardock avoids duplicating those, I think P&F should guarantee them the ability to do what they want in the UI of SC:O.

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And music can obviously be copyrighted. The same way that Stardock is trying to argue that P&F's work is owned by Accolade because they worked for Accolade, it's pretty reasonable to make the same argument about Riku working for P&F. The difference is we can actually SEE the 1988 Accolade agreement that says P&F own the copyright (including the copyright listed on the game box). There's no public record of Riku Nuottajšrvi's agreement. Presumably based on what we know about the history of the game music, it was probably a contract with P&F, but it's not impossible that it was with Accolade.

My point was that the details here matter:  Depending on whether that license exists and what it says, the owner of the music is either Paul or Riku (probably Riku, based on Fred's statement), and Paul could have anywhere from zero to a lot of control over that music and its derivations.  The one thing we can be sure of is that Stardock does not own the music, because of the clause you cited that assigns copyright ownership to Paul.

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Either way, Paul and Fred made some requests that are entirely consistent with being the copyright holder. If the legal language was unclear or messy, the answer was to fix it and make a counter offer. Instead, Stardock's offer is "you can't make a game even in the same genre for five years -- see you in court".

While Paul's requests might be consistent with copyright ownership, I'm not sure I would agree they were reasonable; Paul's settlement proposal is more controlling than I think is necessary.  But yes, Stardock's offer was most definitely not reasonable.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 27, 2018, 04:52:21 am
Yeah, this is just semantics now.

My main point wasn't to criticize what you were saying. My main point was that Paul and Fred offered something that on the surface is grounded in how copyright and trademark work. It's also very close to the public position Stardock had been taking for months (if not years) -- Paul and Fred get to make a game with their copyrighted characters and stories, and Stardock gets to make a new game called Star Control in a new universe. Two games with a negotiated border between them.

Having it break down as copyright = P&F, trademark = Stardock is basically reasonable in the legal sense. You're right that interpreting that too strictly wouldn't be very cooperative, and unreasonable in a negotiation sense.

But considering that Paul and Fred received no reply to their initial offer, I can't say that they were uncooperative. They might be perfectly willing to hash out some constructive problem solving with Stardock, so that Stardock wouldn't be in trouble for basic similarities in UI and gameplay, and so P&F wouldn't be able to sneak in a lawsuit against Galactic Civilizations or something. Of course, we'll never find out if P&F would actually be cooperative problem solvers, since Stardock has been unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Even in private, their settlement offer makes zero effort at constructive problem solving, and instead offers Paul and Fred pay Stardock for the privilege of exile from the entire space game genre.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 05:33:03 am
Paul and Fred offered something that on the surface is very close to the public position Stardock had been taking for months (if not years) -- Paul and Fred get to make a game with their copyrighted characters and stories, and Stardock gets to make a new game called Star Control in a new universe. Two games with a negotiated border between them.

I'll add that I think we need to be sure to read P&F's proposal from Stardock's perspective.  Brad has stated that he wants to be sure this legal explosion can't happen again, and P&F's proposal, while more reasonable than Stardock's, doesn't accomplish that.  Asking Paul to permanently waive any right to sue over the more subjective aspects of his copyright on SC2 is a pretty reasonable ask, and I think that there is language that could be written to codify that arrangement.  However, Brad's current position appears to be that he's not interested in a deal at all.  That could be posturing, of course, but for now, we've got to assume no deal will be forthcoming.

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But considering that Paul and Fred received no reply to their initial offer, I can't say that they were uncooperative. They might be perfectly willing to figure out some basic problem solving, that would allow some freedom of similarity in UI and gameplay, as well as clearly giving up their right to sue Stardock over Galactic Civ races.  Of course, we can't know for sure how cooperative Paul and Fred would be, since Stardock has said they think the courtroom is the right forum to settle this. Their settlement offer makes zero effort at constructive problem solving, and instead offers Paul and Fred pay Stardock for the privilege of exile from the entire space game genre.

And that's the root of Brad's current image problem.  The formal settlement proposals make him look positively malign, relative to P&F, and we currently have no way of vetting his claims that it was the other way around in the earlier informal talks.  When you combine that with him being the one walking away from the negotiating table, it doesn't make him look very good.

I do wonder a bit whether Brad's lawyer screwed up.  I was initially misled by the Rule 408 talk, but Brad's lawyer should have been aware that these settlement proposals could easily go public, and either gotten an actual court order of confidentiality, or a side contract with P&F to keep the proposals secret.  Lacking either of those, he should have realized that settlement demands that draconian would have a likelihood of being leaked, exposing Stardock to some serious public relations risk.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 27, 2018, 09:00:09 am
Well, the settlement offers being public will make a harsher jury selection:
the attorney of Stardock must make sure, that no jury member has been reading online about these issues and may therefore be aware of the settlement offers...
That is what Rule 408 is about.
The jury is not allowed to be influenced by the content of such offers, and the image they portray, so that the jury can find an unbiased decision.

But then, how many people asked for jury duty play these kind of games?
And of those who actually do play, how many do look into the "behind the curtains" happenings of old games and/or games-in-development?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 27, 2018, 01:59:59 pm
@E
Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not. Any IP attorney can tell you how this case is likely to go.

We are working to make the best new Star Control game we can. We arenít going to feed the Paul and Fred circus further.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 27, 2018, 02:22:46 pm
@E
Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not. Any IP attorney can tell you how this case is likely to go.

We are working to make the best new Star Control game we can. We arenít going to feed the Paul and Fred circus further.


They didn't twist your settlement offer, it really was horrible and while theirs is not perfect, it's an improvement. Why not counter with something based on theirs but with what you see as necessary modifications? You know, iterate, haggle. Get rid of the bits that you think would prevent you releasing Origins. I get that everyone is pissed off with each other, but you (all) need to put that aside.

The true fans want to see both games and I suspect you will alienate a lot of them if you prevent Ghosts being made (even if it's through a justified win in court). I personally wouldn't be at all happy with any "winner takes all" scenario no matter which way it goes.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 27, 2018, 02:58:38 pm
You just ignored the substance of their offer.

But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to. 

And because theyíve been so disengenuous between what they publicly state and privately demand, we just donít have any trust that they are capable of actually behaving with any sense of good faith.   We arenít interested in discussing settlements with them any further. The court is the better venue at this point.  And that is the last Iím saying on that.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 27, 2018, 03:23:59 pm
You just ignored the substance of their offer.

But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to.  

I get that, and I'm not particularly supportive of the public way they've handled this. Be the grown up, keep trying to fix this.

And because theyíve been so disengenuous between what they publicly state and privately demand, we just donít have any trust that they are capable of actually behaving with any sense of good faith.   We arenít interested in discussing settlements with them any further. The court is the better venue at this point.  And that is the last Iím saying on that.

Well that is incredibly sad to hear. If it goes to court, I feel that one game or the other is going to get screwed.
If you win I think it will bite you in the ass, perhaps not financially, but you'll burn some bridges with the fans.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Hunam_ on March 27, 2018, 03:29:27 pm
The true fans want to see both games and I suspect you will alienate a lot of them if you prevent Ghosts being made (even if it's through a justified win in court). I personally wouldn't be at all happy with any "winner takes all" scenario no matter which way it goes.

If only they had something to show for Ghosts... You do realize that there might not even be a single line of code for Ghosts? What if there weren't even an intent to write it. Have you ever assumed that possibility like you assumed a lot of other things?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 27, 2018, 03:39:37 pm
Well, their first announcement isn't that old yet.
And it said they just got permission to start working on it.

If they even started fleshing out the ideas they've been collecting, it would be about what I expect the state of the project is.

And they way the original announcement was launched, I sincerely believe that they had/have all intentions to work on the game.
But then, this shit started blowing in all aspects, and they perceived their copyright to be touched.
And had to delve through all documentation they retained to defend what they perceived to be illegally used by someone else.

Of course this doesn't speed up things.
If you have to go through old e-mails, old folders, old lockers,... instead of working on your project, that of course slows down the project.
And writing the code is one of the last things you start doing when programming.


Quote from: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters (https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters), as amended on 9 October 2017
Well, the stars have finally aligned -- we are now working on a direct sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursorsô.  

This is a passion project for us and we have committed to dedicating some of our own time to creating a true sequel.  We are early, early in development,

On top of that, it's only a "side project", which gets only a part of their time. For the rest they'll still be doing TfB management...


[further edit]: I've read rumours about FF and PR3 only announcing now, because they want a piece of the cake Stardock seems to be baking, and never had the intention of actually getting a game done, since the week I read their announcement.
Why then such a big PR fuss? (really, all kind of gaming and non-gaming sites republished an edited version of their announcement, even something like "Christian today (https://www.christiantoday.com/article/star-control-ii-news-games-direct-sequel-announced-after-25-years/115721.htm)")
And if it was all about setting up a court case to get some cake, I'm pretty sure they would've been far more careful in their announcement, and not make a possible target of themselves.

Yes, they may have very little to show so far, besides some general ideas.
But I find enoughr easons to excuse that.
And also not everyone does keep close contact to possible clients before publishing the final version.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Deus Siddis on March 27, 2018, 04:41:08 pm
For almost my entire adult life, Paul and Fred were my heroes.  Fred the god coder and Paul who was not a one-hit wonder but imagined hit after hit.  Mail Order Monsters.  Archon. and of course Star Control.

The most embarrassing thing, in hindsight,is that I major part of my motivation was for them to be pleased with what we had created.  I really thought that if we showed them how good Star Control: Origins was, that they might leave Activision and I would build a studio around them to create games around their imaginations.  That is the, apparently, delusion I operated on for 5 years.

Wow, I want to live in the universe where that is what happened.

Everyone mutually appreciative and working together in one studio rather than naming each other in a lawsuit. :(


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 05:06:25 pm
Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

Negotiations between parties that don't trust each other happens all the time; if you feel someone is misrepresenting what you say, I think you respond with more transparency.  I know that you have said that P&F were unreasonably demanding at earlier stages of the dispute, while you were very reasonable.  I'm open to that possibility, but you haven't shown any interest in getting that information out, which only strengthens suspicions that the unrevealed information would not support your statements.

Quote
You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not.

Obviously, you are not legally obligated to try to settle the suit.  But demonstrating a serious, good-faith effort to settle the dispute makes a difference in the hearts and minds of all of your fans, customers, potential customers, and current employees who are following the suit.  Making a bona-fide offer to settle on something close to reasonable terms is what determines whether people judge your motivations for the suit as righteous self-interest, or aggressive bullying.  Currently, the documents we have been able to see do not show Stardock making such an effort.  If your proposals are anywhere close to as reasonable as the ones you've said you've made in the past, they will do nothing but help you at this point.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 27, 2018, 05:29:08 pm
But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to.

I'm sorry, but the evidence currently available makes it impossible for Stardock to credibly claim that it lost interest in negotiations as a result of P&F's leaks.  Stardock's proposal was so one-sided that it clearly demonstrated that Stardock had no interest in settling when it was written at the start of negotiations - before any leaks had occurred.  And P&F did counter-propose; their document was dated after yours.  My understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that Stardock refused to counter-propose further, effectively ending negotiations, and at that point P&F leaked the documents.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: PRH on March 27, 2018, 06:11:06 pm
I think we may be overlooking one point of contention that Fred and Paul brought up in one of their older posts here:
https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/12/1/there-were-many-great-battles-and-some-of-them-involved-lawyers

Check out this thread on the SCO forums:
https://forums.starcontrol.com/488067/star-control-the-multiverse-thread

Admittedly, the thread was only started on March 17, when Brad claims Fred and Paul had already crossed the point of no return with him and Stardock, but Brad has previously referred multiple times to the "Star Control multiverse", and SCO being the "prequel" or "alternate history" of the SC "multiverse", so it seems it has been Stardock's plan all along. Simply put, SCO is not just a space adventure game that happens to share many gameplay mechanics with SC2. It is, quite literally, an alternate version of the same SC universe we have known from the classic games, and the Ilwrath, Chenjesu, Yehat, etc. are all present in all instances of this universe, including the Scryve universe that is coming out with Origins. Sadly, this kind of setup makes any kind of "win-win" solution impossible, regardless of how either side feels about the other.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 27, 2018, 07:00:36 pm
the multiverse I always took as a reason why the "new Star Control" will not feature the races and lore (=Reiche's Retained Rights, RRR)...
If the Taalo have not been destroyed by the Ur-Quan, then the whole sector will likely look very different....

But indeed, that alone is "leaning" on RRR, and the goodwill of that story, despite actually stating that these races will not appear.

I liked the idea, alsobecause it would easily allow Star Trek, Star Wars, and other universes to be skinned over the same engine and star positions.

Anyway, those things are nice, but I play games for the story unfolding within....

Although later I also loved SC2 for the gigantic pre-story, which was partly only in th handbook/manual.
Until recently, I feared FF and PR could be proven to be good predictors (small war)...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 27, 2018, 11:25:29 pm
@Elestan:

The question isn't whether we will settle or not.  The issue is that we won't be offering settlements because we clearly can't trust them not to misrepresent them (you have no idea what the discussions were before the first settlement offer was sent to please stop acting like you have even remotely the full picture).  

Paul and Fred are welcome to send over anything they'd like and they can trust us that we won't abuse their trust by leaking them to the public.

Any settlement would have to cover these basics:

1. Prevent any chance of this nonsense from ever happening again.  We don't want, 3 years from now, to be dealing with Dogar posts complaining that the Tywom Juggernaut is too similar to some ship they made or demanding that we take features out of our games.  If Star Control: Origins becomes a sensation, we don't want to be getting threatening letters demanding that we better pay up because they think they have some right to some element of our games.

2. Recognize the damage they have caused and the confusion they have caused and compensate us for that.  We've lost months of marketing time and good will because of the confusion they created in the market (you yourself saw that guy's Reddit post, and yea, that's devastating to their case).  And I'm not even getting into the public circus of the lawsuit itself.  It will take market experts to determine how much in sales this has caused but I would guess probably around 5% at least.  

3. Recognize that we own the Star Control trademark and that means that yes, we will be associating it with the classic games.  Star Control: Origins is just as much of a Star Control game as any other Star Control game.  

4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

5. Do not attempt any action that tries to block us from supporting the Ur-Quan Masters communities or any other well established Star Control related communities.

If you look through the settlement offer Stardock sent, even though the lawyers were harsh about it (and yes, it was approved by Stardock but it did not involve apologies or demanding they never use certain words or involve them surrendering anything) it was designed to address the 5 points above.  

They are welcome to submit their own ideas and like I said, we won't betray their trust like they did ours.  But we are done sending them settlement offers.

BTW, if they lose in court, they have to pay our attorney fees.  I'm not sure if their attorneys have walked them through that.  This is one of the few types of litigation where that is a factor to consider.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: PRH on March 27, 2018, 11:57:56 pm
4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

If it were only about picking a different title, I certainly wouldn't object. But seriously, what should they call it if it is objectively a direct continuation of the story from The Ur-Quan Masters? How is that not a sequel? And besides, if we interpret "cease associating any future games with Star Control" as broadly as possible, and especially since you're now trademarking "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Spathi", "Syreen", and so on, what does that mean if not permanently barring Fred and Paul from developing a sequel to UQM? That's a far cry from simply having them pick a different title for their game.

Your other conditions seem reasonable enough, though.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 28, 2018, 12:01:56 am
They can't misrepresent the settlement offer if they posted both of them online verbatim. The words are there as they've been used. (Unless you're alleging they manufactured the evidence. Which is I guess insanely possible, but a really obvious crime.)

I suppose we can nitpick the summary, but it seems to be pretty accurate by my eyes. (Is the IP being surrendered, or merely transferred? Are they apologizing or merely making a corrective statement?) The Stardock legal Q+A had more issues with accuracy. (Which did improve somewhat with time and scrutiny.)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 28, 2018, 12:51:04 am
Quote
If you look through the settlement offer Stardock sent, even though the lawyers were harsh about it (and yes, it was approved by Stardock but it did not involve apologies or demanding they never use certain words or involve them surrendering anything) it was designed to address the 5 points above.  

Don't you mean... "letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true"?

First, it does absolutely tell them to stop using certain terms. For example:

Quote
(iv) refrain from any and all use of the term GHOSTS OF THE PRECURSORS and/or any variation thereof, as a trademark, service mark, business name, trade name, and/or social media username and/or with source identifying indicia whatsoever, including but not limited to any and all use of the wording GHOSTS OF THE PRECURSORS in connection with the marketing and promotion of any product or service including but not limited to any computer or video game;

And the next section does the same for "UR QUAN MASTERS".

"Any and all use" is very robust. "Including but not limited to" stresses that broadness.

Stardock then asks them to transfer all their intellectual property rights to Stardock:

Quote
Assignors hereby irrevocably and forever assign and transfer to Assignee, its successors, and assigns, the entire right, title and interest to any and all intellectual property associated with the Works including but not limited to any copyrights, trademarks, domain name and all other intellectual property rights

Stardock asks that they don't even begin developing a new game until 2023:

Quote
For a period of (5) years form 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 Stardockís New Star Control Game.

Optimistically, no continuation of the UQM storyline until 2025.

Stardock didn't just ask them to pick a different game title. Stardock asked them to transfer (but let's not call it a surrender) all of their intellectual property in the original games to Stardock. And then Stardock asks them to not begin making a game in the same genre for 5 years.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 28, 2018, 08:34:34 am
The question isn't whether we will settle or not.  The issue is that we won't be offering settlements because we clearly can't trust them not to misrepresent them (you have no idea what the discussions were before the first settlement offer was sent to please stop acting like you have even remotely the full picture).

It kind of seems like you're hiding behind a self-imposed confidentiality obligation here.  P&F don't really have standing to complain about Stardock revealing settlement information when they've already leaked the settlement docs.  So if you think there's anything you could reveal that would show Stardock in a better light, I would say to go ahead and do it...or publicly challenge P&F to tell you that they expect you not to.  Either of those would be a PR win for Stardock.

Quote
Any settlement would have to cover these basics:

Obviously, I can't speak for Paul, but I can say what would seem reasonable to me.  And I think the five points you mention are in a range where they invite negotiation, unlike Stardock's other settlement proposal.

Quote
1. Prevent any chance of this nonsense from ever happening again.  We don't want, 3 years from now, to be dealing with Dogar posts complaining that the Tywom Juggernaut is too similar to some ship they made or demanding that we take features out of our games.  If Star Control: Origins becomes a sensation, we don't want to be getting threatening letters demanding that we better pay up because they think they have some right to some element of our games.

So, I think this is reasonable, but it does require drawing up some dividing lines to define what's allowed and what's not.  Would you be willing to commit to not using the following things from SC1&2?:
  • Ships
  • Alien Races/Creatures
  • Characters
  • Plotlines
  • Unique names
  • Any music that Paul can show was made under a work-for-hire arrangement, exclusive license grant, or copyright assignment.

For the ships in particular, because of the ship designer, Stardock is going to have an issue with people designing ships that infringe on copyrights owned by others.  That's going to happen regardless of how this suit turns out.  So, presuming that Stardock does have something in mind to keep from getting sued by Disney (maybe a DMCA-like procedure?), I would just suggest that Stardock essentially promise to handle a user-designed Ur-Quan Dreadnought the same way it would deal with the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise.

Quote
2. Recognize the damage they have caused and the confusion they have caused and compensate us for that.  We've lost months of marketing time and good will because of the confusion they created in the market (you yourself saw that guy's Reddit post, and yea, that's devastating to their case).  And I'm not even getting into the public circus of the lawsuit itself.  It will take market experts to determine how much in sales this has caused but I would guess probably around 5% at least.

I think some damages are reasonable, but I would suggest that such damages be based only on the actual damages Stardock can prove to the appropriate legal standard, and not include any statutory or punitive damages.

Quote
3. Recognize that we own the Star Control trademark and that means that yes, we will be associating it with the classic games.  Star Control: Origins is just as much of a Star Control game as any other Star Control game.

I agree with your ownership of the trademark, and your right to call Origins a Star Control game; I think that comes with the trademark.  You could call it "Star Control Zero" if you wanted to, and then go on to make your own "Star Control n" games, potentially even including a new "Star Control I" and "Star Control II" (although I'd suggest trying to avoid that, for sanity's sake).  Paul passed up the chance to buy that right from you.  But the UQM universe is a creative work that falls under Paul's copyright.  Would you commit to fully dissociating the SC:O multiverse from the UQM continuity, rather than saying that they are connected in some way?

Quote
4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

On the sequel issue, I'd agree that they shouldn't call it a sequel to Star Control, but they should be able to call it a sequel to "The Ur-Quan Masters".

As for the name, I have no particular attachment to GotP, but they might.  Since that name is not actually a threat to Stardock, I'd suggest that this probably doesn't need to be made into a dealbreaker, especially if they're paying damages for their post.  Maybe part of their damages could be considered a fee for whatever goodwill they rubbed onto GotP?

Quote
5. Do not attempt any action that tries to block us from supporting the Ur-Quan Masters communities or any other well established Star Control related communities.

I certainly don't think they'd stop any contributions to UQM; their proposal even had the whole of SC1-3 being donated to UQM.  What sort of action are you worried they might object to?

Quote
If you look through the settlement offer Stardock sent, even though the lawyers were harsh about it (and yes, it was approved by Stardock but it did not involve apologies or demanding they never use certain words or involve them surrendering anything) it was designed to address the 5 points above.

I agree that the required statement was not an apology, but it was a forced endorsement (it required them to say they were "genuinely excited" to play your new game), and it absolutely does demand (in sections 1(iv),(v),(vi)) that they not use certain words, and (in section 3.) that they surrender all of their IP rights to the classic games.  Okay, it uses the word "assign" to mean "surrender", but I'll assume you're not trying to stand on that pedantic a distinction.

If they're willing to give you what you want above, would you be willing to commit to the following?:

  • Cancel your new trademark filings relating to the classic games.
  • Disclaim any common-law trademark interest in the classic games.
  • Donate the code and license the copyright for SC3 to the UQM project under an open-source/Creative Commons license.
  • Agree that that the classic games can't be sold unless you and Paul agree on the terms.
  • Donate any profits Stardock has received from selling the classic games to a mutually agreeable charitable cause.
  • Give Paul any materials Stardock got from Atari relating to SC1&2.

Quote
BTW, if they lose in court, they have to pay our attorney fees.  I'm not sure if their attorneys have walked them through that.  This is one of the few types of litigation where that is a factor to consider.

My understanding is that if their infringement is found to be willful or malicious, the court may require them to pay your fees, but it isn't automatic.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 28, 2018, 02:00:23 pm
Elestan's suggestion seems very reasonable. All you need to do is work together (with your respective lawyers) to find the correct legal terminology for it in a way that isn't too vague.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: PRH on March 28, 2018, 02:04:54 pm
I've been thinking some more about a "win-win" solution, and I think that reaching one, or at least something very close to one, is still possible. It would go like this:

The old Star Control franchise (SC1-3) is separated into two franchises: the Ur-Quan franchise (SC1+2, plus GotP and any future sequels), and the new Star Control franchise (SCO, plus possibly some plot elements or races from SC3, such as the K'tang or the Xchaggers). The concept of the "Star Control multiverse" may stay, but it will have to dissociate itself completely from the Ur-Quan franchise. Any races or (copyrightable) plot elements from SC1+2 are not part of it, unless F&P agree to share them with Stardock. And I acknowledge that this is one of the main points of contention in this dispute, as Brad and Stardock believe they hold the full copyright to the entire old SC franchise, and F&P are only entitled to royalties. And since F&P refused to buy the rights back, the solution is problematic, if possible at all.

However, policing Stardock for any fan-created content that may borrow from the Ur-Quan franchise (or anywhere else for that matter) is ridiculous, and I'm fully with Stardock on that matter. Nearly all games on the market that allow fans to create their own content have mods that borrow from copyrighted works. As far as I know, Stardock's other games (such as Galactic Civilizations) had Star Control-inspired mods. Stellaris has mods that introduce races from Starcraft and Mass Effect. As long as these mods are distributed non-commercially, and the authors of these mods acknowledge the original copyright of the works they borrow from, everything should be okay, and (unless he borrowing is really extensive, like copying a significant part of the original work) I've never heard of any copyright holders issuing C&D demands to the authors of the mods (let alone the developers of the game that hosted the mod). I admit though, that my knowledge on this matter is extremely limited.

As for the gameplay elements, I think that both sides should have the right to use gameplay mechanics from the old SC franchise, as all three classic SC games have used them. And I think that Stardock should be able to use "Super-Melee" (or any derivative of it, like SC3's "Hyper-Melee", or "Ultra-Melee", or something) as a name for its fleet battle mode. However, that is just a name, and changing a name won't change the gameplay.

Of course, all of the above assumes that both sides have the fans' interests as a priority, which is hardly a given. Both sides may have ulterior motives here.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 28, 2018, 07:07:31 pm
A lot of settlements are there in case someone operates in bad faith. This is where the lawyers really need to get involved.

I mean, I would like to think that Paul and Fred wouldn't be vindictive assholes. But I think it's valid for Stardock to protect themselves from P&F using their copyright as a sword. Imagine lawsuits about how GalCiv has ships that vaguely look Star Control-ish.

Similarly, I'm a healthy supporter of any mod community, and I think Stardock knows that a game with great mods will get more sales. But I think it's valid if Paul and Fred worry about Stardock actively supporting a team of modders to essentially port Star Control 2 material into SC:O. If they were really shitty, they could encourage porting the whole damn game, and it would get more people buying SC:O for sure.

If Israel and Palestine were to basically agree on the borders, the whole world would applaud. There would rightfully be mistrust on both sides, and they would need to work out a neutral way to police the borders so it doesn't lead to some weird land grab. But figuring that out would be more than half way there. AndpPeople would rightfully be mad if someone walked away from the negotiating table without an honest discussion about those details.

Frankly, the justice system is designed to punish people who walk away from the negotiating table -- it's designed to encourage settlement to save everyone money, including the courts and the taxpayers.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on March 28, 2018, 07:37:49 pm
Look, I can understand why Stardock may be concerned about some overly broad terms in Fred and Paul's proposal. But that can be amended and tightened up. It is at least a good starting point for a compromise, even if it may need a few rounds of counter-offers back and forth.

Stardock's proposal, on the other hand, is absolutely draconian and doesn't look like someone at all interested in a good-faith compromise. Fred and Paul's summary was accurate - in fact, I found the actual text even more brutal. They literally have to delete their forum posts here and elsewhere! Nitpicking language like "transfer" vs. "surrender" or saying the written statement wasn't actually an apology (if anything, it's actually worse and more humiliating than merely "apologizing") isn't very convincing.  Nor is using euphemistic language to make the demands sound less extreme.

Maybe neither offer is perfect, but they are not equivalent.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on March 28, 2018, 08:08:34 pm
I changed my hope.
I now hope, that Pr3 and FF will like the Origins engine and modability so much, that they and Stardock come to a licensing agreement, that makes GotP a paid extra content add-on for Origins.

IMHO, that would be the best outcome for all sides.

Question would be how much FF, PR3 and Stardock feel hurt and emotions getting in their way to do this.
And I also do not know if FF and PR3 would even consider downgrading their project from a full game to an add-on mod.

But with this, they could conceivably even market their game as Star Control : Ghosts of the Precursors.

I can dream, can't I?

I still wish to know the planned scope of GotP... Full, modern game, or "merely" a continuation of the storylines of SC2:UQM with as much game around it as needed....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 28, 2018, 08:18:21 pm
Look, I can understand why Stardock may be concerned about some overly broad terms in Fred and Paul's proposal. But that can be amended and tightened up. It is at least a good starting point for a compromise, even if it may need a few rounds of counter-offers back and forth.

Stardock's proposal, on the other hand, is absolutely draconian and doesn't look like someone at all interested in a good-faith compromise. Fred and Paul's summary was accurate - in fact, I found the actual text even more brutal. They literally have to delete their forum posts here and elsewhere! Nitpicking language like "transfer" vs. "surrender" or saying the written statement wasn't actually an apology (if anything, it's actually worse and more humiliating than merely "apologizing") isn't very convincing.  Nor is using euphemistic language to make the demands sound less extreme.

Maybe neither offer is perfect, but they are not equivalent.

Very well put. Among all those points, I'd also agree the "corrective statement" feels worse than an apology. It basically asks them to lie about playing a game they surely haven't played, and endorsing a Star Control game that isn't at all what they envisioned. Even Accolade didn't force them to hide their honest opinion about Star Control 3.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: bum783 on March 28, 2018, 09:28:02 pm
2. Recognize the damage they have caused and the confusion they have caused and compensate us for that.  We've lost months of marketing time and good will because of the confusion they created in the market (you yourself saw that guy's Reddit post, and yea, that's devastating to their case).  And I'm not even getting into the public circus of the lawsuit itself.  It will take market experts to determine how much in sales this has caused but I would guess probably around 5% at least.  

I can only speak for myself on this topic. BUT I was unfairly critical of the route Stardock was taking (I.E. the multiverse) it wasnt until reading about this legal dispute that I actually read what the storyline was going to be for Origins. I in fact am now interested in the game when I was previously un-intrested..... ALSO as the argument continues and Frogboy keeps engaging with fans I feel Stardock may have actually GAINED support. There is a certain truth to all publicity is good publicity.

4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

I think this one is a bit unfair to fans as I think any settlement should have some level of reality to it. The game Paul and Fred ultimately make IS a sequel to SC2. I think anyone who has played SC2 will know what they mean if they said sequel to UrQuan Masters, simply to avoid using the trademarked word StarControl. BUT if your suggesting they cant even say that,  I think it would hurt the marketability of the game. I can understand why you may want them to stop calling it the "TRUE" sequel implying that your game is NOT a true cannon game. I think there could be some level of compromise with this particular demand


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on March 29, 2018, 04:41:42 pm
Word is both parties are now working together to arrive at a settlement....








(just kidding)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 29, 2018, 04:51:45 pm
As a reminder, Stardock does have a Q&A which is frequently updated.

https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

You can see Paul and Fred's emails for yourself along with what Stardock originally proposed before lawyers got involved.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 29, 2018, 05:04:00 pm
Word is both parties are now working together to arrive at a settlement....








(just kidding)

Cruel!


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 29, 2018, 06:34:34 pm
As a reminder, Stardock does have a Q&A (https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred) which is frequently updated.  You can see Paul and Fred's emails for yourself along with what Stardock originally proposed before lawyers got involved.

Thanks Brad, those emails provide some great additional context.  One minor suggestion:  It's a little hard to pick out what's been changed in such a large post, so highlighting the changes in some way would be very useful.

I do think Paul's demand about "Super-Melee" in #20 is not well-founded; I probably would have responded to it with a polite indication that the term was too generic for their copyright to apply.  And if I were Paul, I would not have said that there is no need to debate legalities; it seems like more legal clarification is exactly what was needed.

So, with that said, you didn't actually respond to his key point:
  • You had argued to him in #19 that "The fact that the product is available for sale now and you are collecting royalties makes clear that the publishing agreement is in effect"
  • But Section 2.2 of the agreement clearly says that the sales term of the agreement only lasts as long as the agreement is generating $1000 in royalties, which it had stopped doing a long time ago.
  • It seems like you may not have understood at that time that the GoG sales were under an entirely separate agreement.
  • And in any case. once the sales term termination trigger goes off, the agreement doesn't just start up again because sales pick up.  That parrot is dead.
  • Yet you say that you just had the contract re-reviewed and your lawyer says that the agreement is still valid and enforceable

Certainly, if I were Paul, I'd wonder what your lawyer was smoking at this point, because his assessment seems to contradict every other reading of this contract, including by Accolade and Atari's own lawyers.  If you want to claim something like that, you've got to explain your reasoning, or people are going to think you're just willfully denying reality.

So...can your lawyer explain his reasoning here?  I'm open to the possibility that your lawyer initially mis-read the contract, and now that you're in litigation, you just don't want to admit the mistake.  But if you can walk us through a plausible reading of the contract logic that would mean that it's still valid, it would make you sound a lot less crazy.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 29, 2018, 07:39:45 pm
At the time we had:

1. The GOG agreement between Atari and GOG.
2. The email between Paul and me.
3. The game on GOG with us as publisher.
4. The 1988 agreement.

There was no email from Atari or any other reason for us to think that it had expired and they weren't interested in discussing it.  That email from them is the last one before they sent their lawyer who also did not provide any sort of evidence. 

If they had given us the Atari letter (and they still haven't btw, we have only the excerpts posted on their blog to go by) before the lawyers were involved, that would have satisfied me regarding the distribution of the old games.  However, the sequels were not part of the sales term and would have survived I believe. 

In any event, it should have been pretty easy to iron out...if...they...would...have...just...picked....up a phone.  We're the ones with the registered trademarks and copyrights.  They had nothing at the time on file. No documentation for anything.  And they weren't even willing to discuss it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 29, 2018, 07:41:26 pm
BTW, the judge just issued an order enforcing Rule 408 (for those who wrongly thought it wasn't a big deal to post private settlement discussions, you have your answer).

The order is probably in the public documents now.

Needless to say, we will be complying with this.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 29, 2018, 08:17:22 pm
At the time we had:
1. The GOG agreement between Atari and GOG.
2. The email between Paul and me.
3. The game on GOG with us as publisher.
4. The 1988 agreement.

There was no email from Atari or any other reason for us to think that it had expired and they weren't interested in discussing it.

So, I get that Paul wasn't communicating clearly about the situation, and that's on him.  But the thing I don't understand is why, if you had the 1988 agreement, you needed any other proof.  Your lawyer should have been able to read that agreement and tell you that it had expired - if not by the cessation of royalties in section 2.2, then by virtue of the bankruptcy trigger in section 7.1, or the 3-year deadline in Addendum 3 section 4.1.  He should certainly have noticed the bankruptcy trigger, given that you were buying/had bought this at a bankruptcy auction.  

So, my current assessment is that your lawyer was sloppy, didn't read the contract thoroughly, and gave you bad information, telling you that you still had an exclusive publishing license when it had in fact expired over a decade earlier.  That information caused you to labor for four years under false assumptions, culminating in you sending that Oct 6, 2017 email to P&F, where you offended them by asserting that you had rights that you didn't actually own.  Then they started getting hostile, because they saw you making claims that seemed clearly ludicrous to them.

So...I would have a serious talk with your lawyer.  And if he f*cked up as badly as it seems, and it really was a mistake of legal understanding at Stardock that set off this mess, I would try to figure out what the best way was to put things right.  I believe it's still probably possible to de-escalate, if you decide you want to do it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 29, 2018, 08:23:58 pm
BTW, the judge just issued an order enforcing Rule 408 (for those who wrongly thought it wasn't a big deal to post private settlement discussions, you have your answer).

The order is probably in the public documents now.

Needless to say, we will be complying with this.

Thanks for that, but I don't have a PACER account to download the order; could you post it on Stardock's site?  Perhaps I will learn something about Federal rule 408 (a lifelong dream of mine, to be sure).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 29, 2018, 08:49:31 pm
At the time we had:
1. The GOG agreement between Atari and GOG.
2. The email between Paul and me.
3. The game on GOG with us as publisher.
4. The 1988 agreement.

There was no email from Atari or any other reason for us to think that it had expired and they weren't interested in discussing it.

So, I get that Paul wasn't communicating clearly about the situation, and that's on him.  But the thing I don't understand is why, if you had the 1988 agreement, you needed any other proof.  Your lawyer should have been able to read that agreement and tell you that it had expired - if not by the cessation of royalties in section 2.2, then by virtue of the bankruptcy trigger in section 7.1, or the 3-year deadline in Addendum 3 section 4.1.  He should certainly have noticed the bankruptcy trigger, given that you were buying/had bought this at a bankruptcy auction.  

So, my current assessment is that your lawyer was sloppy, didn't read the contract thoroughly, and gave you bad information, telling you that you still had an exclusive publishing license when it had in fact expired over a decade earlier.  That information caused you to labor for four years under false assumptions, culminating in you sending that Oct 6, 2017 email to P&F, where you offended them by asserting that you had rights that you didn't actually own.  Then they started getting hostile, because they saw you making claims that seemed clearly ludicrous to them.

So...I would have a serious talk with your lawyer.  And if he f*cked up as badly as it seems, and it really was a mistake of legal understanding at Stardock that set off this mess, I would try to figure out what the best way was to put things right.  I believe it's still probably possible to de-escalate, if you decide you want to do it.

That remains to be seen.  I've told you before, quit pretending you're an IP lawyer.  There is a lot more nuance to these things than you believe.

What we knew for sure was that the games were on sale on GOG and Paul and Fred were cashing royalty checks for those sales and we have the aforementioned items.  And I realize you've already made up your mind based on the very very limited data you have available but I just cannot understand how you can ignore the fact that they have some responsibility to discuss.  Especially given the undeniable fact that they were walking on thin ice legally by announcing any sort of "Sequel" that could be construed as being related to Star Control.   

Those early Fall weeks would have been a good time to get together for beers or something and walk through all this in a friendly way.   I would hope that if you have even any objectivity left that you can look at the tone of my emails versus the tone of theirs.  And from our perspective, we had the absolute legal high ground even as I was practically begging them to talk to me.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 29, 2018, 09:33:23 pm
And I realize you've already made up your mind based on the very very limited data you have available but I just cannot understand how you can ignore the fact that they have some responsibility to discuss.

Just to be clear, my mind isn't made up.  When I say "my current assessment is..." I mean just that, and new information could change my opinion.  I won't lock my opinions in until the case is over.

And I certainly do think that P&F have some responsibility to discuss; I think I've been pretty consistent in my opinion that they stepped on your trademark, and should pay some kind of penalty, and that they bear partial ethical responsibility for not clarifying the 1988 agreement's expiration in your 2013 email exchange.  And I've always tried to give you full credit for making the offer to sell everything to them.

Quote
I would hope that if you have even any objectivity left that you can look at the tone of my emails versus the tone of theirs.  And from our perspective, we had the absolute legal high ground even as I was practically begging them to talk to me.

Right...and that's where it seems like the problem happened: Both of you thought you had the absolute legal high ground.  There's no question that you made it very clear that you had a lot of respect for them, and wanted to work with them to make the game, or see them buy the rights and make the game themselves.  And they were equally clear when they rebuffed you, politely at first, but then with increasing brusqueness.  I can tell from reading the emails that they were confusing the heck out of you, when you thought you were doing them a favor, offering them something they clearly had wanted for a long time.

I would love to see an explanation from them of what they thought when they got your emails, and why they didn't clarify their rights earlier way back in 2013.

So, let me put all of that on the record.

With that said, Stardock bore the primary responsibility to analyze and understand the rights it bought.  It either made a mistake, or its lawyer found something very clever in the agreement that Accolade and Atari did not realize.  If it made a mistake, I hope that it would acknowledge and correct it as soon as possible, rather than trying to litigate on it.  If the lawyer was just really clever...well, I guess we'll find out in court.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 29, 2018, 10:53:33 pm
.

With that said, Stardock bore the primary responsibility to analyze and understand the rights it bought.  It either made a mistake, or its lawyer found something very clever in the agreement that Accolade and Atari did not realize.  If it made a mistake, I hope that it would acknowledge and correct it as soon as possible, rather than trying to litigate on it.  If the lawyer was just really clever...well, I guess we'll find out in court.

Stardock isn't litigating anything that is related to that contract.  So I'm not sure what burden is on Stardock there.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 29, 2018, 11:28:35 pm
With that said, Stardock bore the primary responsibility to analyze and understand the rights it bought.  It either made a mistake, or its lawyer found something very clever in the agreement that Accolade and Atari did not realize.  If it made a mistake, I hope that it would acknowledge and correct it as soon as possible, rather than trying to litigate on it.  If the lawyer was just really clever...well, I guess we'll find out in court.

Stardock isn't litigating anything that is related to that contract.  So I'm not sure what burden is on Stardock there.

The way I see it, claiming that agreement was still active is what put P&F on the warpath to begin with.  They were polite and even supportive of you making a game right up to the point where you said you owned those rights.  But after that their emails (that you've shown so far) got really frosty really fast, and I'm guessing it just got worse from there.  If Stardock had realized that the 1988 agreement was void, I think this whole thing wouldn't have blown up.  You wouldn't have told P&F that you owned the publishing rights, which means they wouldn't have gotten offended and worried about you using their IP without permission, and wouldn't have started trying to put SC:O under a magnifying glass to enforce their copyright to the limit.  They probably would have been less likely to push your trademark boundaries with their GotP announcement as well.

Just to emphasize, I think there's responsibility both ways for this misunderstanding, but I put it 60/40 on Stardock, because I currently think that your lawyer made the initial mistake.  Obviously, I'll reassess if I see an interpretation of the agreement that indicates he was right all along.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 30, 2018, 12:22:07 am
We can only speculate. 

They are responsible for their own actions just like we are responsible for ours.

As I said in that email, it was academic because Stardock wasn't using any of their IP and we would have been happy to just agree to terminate that agreement provided that they, again, as I wrote in the unedited email you saw, worked with us to avoid any confusion.   

If they had shown us, for instance, that Atari letter they posted (and they still haven't turned it over) back then, that would have been sufficient and I'd have made sure the old DOS games came down.  But they refused to give any reason other than "We weren't paid royalties" (and as someone who has gotten advances on games, there are many times we don't get paid any new royalties) and then proceeded to begin making demands on our game.

There are a lot of people out there who just have no clue on IP.  Sadly, at this point in my career, I've spent years in every type of IP litigation. Patent. Trademark. Copyright.   We were once sued for WindowBlinds infringing on some FAX machine patent.  All of this doesn't make me a lawyer by any means, but I've had years of first hand experience at IP litigation.  This case is pretty straight forward which is why I am shocked that this wasn't settled in October or November in a way that would have made everyone reasonably happy.

I think what annoys me the most about Internet lawyers (and this time I'm not thinking of you) is that they can't even be bothered to Google.





Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 30, 2018, 01:04:24 am
So far, I've made one not-a-lawyer mistake that I know about:  I was not aware of fair use as it applied to trademarks.  I may admit a second one relating to Rule 408 if I manage to get a look at the order that was issued today, but I do want to read it first.

As I said in that email, it was academic because Stardock wasn't using any of their IP and we would have been happy to just agree to terminate that agreement provided that they, again, as I wrote in the unedited email you saw, worked with us to avoid any confusion.

I think the trouble with your proposal was that (from their view) with the 1988 agreement terminated, you had no legal right to put any conditions at all on them, except that they not use your trademark.  So telling them that they can't release within 90 days of you, or couldn't make certain statements, or any of those other 11 conditions in your proposal...all of that would have been just as offensive to them as their later demands clearly were to you.

I don't know what comes next in the email chain after what you've showed so far, but if I try to put myself in your shoes, given the stakes, I think my next move would have been to get a second lawyer's opinion on the 1988 agreement to make sure I was on really solid legal ground, and then if we decided it was still valid, have the lawyers write up a detailed explanation as to why it was still valid, and send it to P&F, so that they could understand my position.  And if we realized it wasn't valid, I'd make sure to apologize.  Because until there is agreement on whether or not that contract is active, there's no point in trying to talk about anything else:  If it's active, you've got a ton of leverage.  If it's not, you've got none (this is before they made their announcement post).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 30, 2018, 07:34:15 am
I've just thought of a possible explanation for the way Paul responded to Brad in 2013.  Brad had sent Paul an email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/4ee3cffd-233f-4901-9e1d-be7757699ef1.png), saying:
Quote
What we received were the trademark and all of Accolade's publishing rights for the original trilogy.

Crucially, Brad is looking at the 1988 Accolade contract, thinking it is still valid.  That contract granted exclusive rights to the IP, including the right to develop sequels.

Paul gets the email, sees Brad's words, and replies:
Quote
...we aren't interested in the Star Control assets you purchased from Atari.

What's been bugging me since I saw these emails is why this didn't set off alarm bells in Paul's head, such that he would correct Brad.  But I just realized:  

Brad thinks he is telling Paul about the Accolade agreement, but Paul thinks Brad is talking about the GoG agreement, and the message could be read either way.

So at this point Brad thought that Paul had given tacit blessing to him having the exclusive sequel development rights in the 1988 agreement, and that he was doing Paul a favor by not using Paul's universe in the new game.  Paul thought Brad was talking about the non-exclusive GoG sales agreement, which gave no new development rights, so he didn't think he was getting any favors, and really didn't care about it as long as he got his checks.

Throughout the later exchanges, they confirmed several times that they agreed on Paul's ownership of the copyright, but I suspect they never said anything that would have uncovered this misunderstanding about the publishing rights until Fall of 2017, when Brad was already heavily invested in SC:O.  And then it all blew up, because each of them thought the other was making a property grab on their IP.

Seen this way, the whole thing makes sense, without having to assume that anyone was trying to be underhanded or deceptive.  


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on March 30, 2018, 08:03:58 am
4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.
If I were them, I would probably consider this one point to be a deal-breaker. If you were asking them to simply not use the name "Star Control", that would be one thing; but requiring them to rename the game or not refer to it as a sequel to "The Ur-Quan Masters" is unreasonable, as they hold the copyrights to the original game.

I would be okay with them choosing a different title, mind you, but I wouldn't be too happy about it - "Ghosts of the Precursors" is a great title and it would be a shame to lose it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on March 30, 2018, 09:10:45 am
Brad thinks he is telling Paul about the Accolade agreement, but Paul thinks Brad is talking about the GoG agreement, and the message could be read either way.

Holy crap.  That would explain A LOT to how everyone acted initially, especially the years of relative amicability between them.  And drastic shift towards the defensive both sides took, recently.  The contract schedule from Exhibit 8 in the counter-claim, coincides with that.  Given the GOG.com agreement had been terminated 02/23/2016 in that schedule (which means it was received by Fred and Paul after that point), but the Accolade 1988 agreement was indicated as live...  That means for almost 3 years, Stardock had the GOG.com agreement... So any discussion about distribution rights may have been assumed to have been the GOG.com agreement by Paul for AT LEAST that period of time, until receipt of that contract schedule.  Meanwhile, Stardock assumes the Accolade 1988 agreement was still live based on it being a contract sold to them by Atari without rebuttal by Paul.

That is VERY INTERESTING find.  It explains so much.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: chapel on March 30, 2018, 05:59:26 pm
finally remembered my password after all these years.
How's everyone doing!?
...
oh.

how have I had this account for 7 years and this is my first post!?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Deus Siddis on March 30, 2018, 06:41:51 pm
Brad thinks he is telling Paul about the Accolade agreement, but Paul thinks Brad is talking about the GoG agreement, and the message could be read either way.

Holy crap.  That would explain A LOT to how everyone acted initially, especially the years of relative amicability between them.  And drastic shift towards the defensive both sides took, recently.  The contract schedule from Exhibit 8 in the counter-claim, coincides with that.  Given the GOG.com agreement had been terminated 02/23/2016 in that schedule (which means it was received by Fred and Paul after that point), but the Accolade 1988 agreement was indicated as live...  That means for almost 3 years, Stardock had the GOG.com agreement... So any discussion about distribution rights may have been assumed to have been the GOG.com agreement by Paul for AT LEAST that period of time, until receipt of that contract schedule.  Meanwhile, Stardock assumes the Accolade 1988 agreement was still live based on it being a contract sold to them by Atari without rebuttal by Paul.

That is VERY INTERESTING find.  It explains so much.

Wow, that does sound highly likely. Excellent sleuthing, Elestan!


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 30, 2018, 08:57:13 pm
If they had given us the Atari letter (and they still haven't btw, we have only the excerpts posted on their blog to go by) before the lawyers were involved, that would have satisfied me regarding the distribution of the old games.

The 1988 agreement says the deal would have expired on non payment of royalties (2001) or on bankruptcy (2013), plus a few other clauses around non-assignment and timing.

I suppose it's valid to want the email chain with Atari with your own eyes. Assuming the excerpts on the blog aren't false or edited, you'd have a pretty strong answer.

Also, if the distribution deal expired on bankruptcy, it wouldn't make sense for Atari to send an email. Atari would have been no more.

Quote
In any event, it should have been pretty easy to iron out...if...they...would...have...just...picked....up a phone.  We're the ones with the registered trademarks and copyrights.  They had nothing at the time on file. No documentation for anything.  And they weren't even willing to discuss it.

For a lot of fans, this feels frustrating to hear. But I'd say that the unwillingness of you guys to really talk it out (even now) is only one part of the frustration. A big part of the frustration is the number of interviews where you said you'd be talking to Paul and Fred, and it seems like most of their emails to you were to refuse and decline any kind of association.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: chapel on March 30, 2018, 08:58:58 pm
Brad thinks he is telling Paul about the Accolade agreement, but Paul thinks Brad is talking about the GoG agreement, and the message could be read either way.

Holy crap.  That would explain A LOT to how everyone acted initially, especially the years of relative amicability between them.  And drastic shift towards the defensive both sides took, recently.  The contract schedule from Exhibit 8 in the counter-claim, coincides with that.  Given the GOG.com agreement had been terminated 02/23/2016 in that schedule (which means it was received by Fred and Paul after that point), but the Accolade 1988 agreement was indicated as live...  That means for almost 3 years, Stardock had the GOG.com agreement... So any discussion about distribution rights may have been assumed to have been the GOG.com agreement by Paul for AT LEAST that period of time, until receipt of that contract schedule.  Meanwhile, Stardock assumes the Accolade 1988 agreement was still live based on it being a contract sold to them by Atari without rebuttal by Paul.

That is VERY INTERESTING find.  It explains so much.

Wow, that does sound highly likely. Excellent sleuthing, Elestan!

Curious how this one plays out. thank god I remembered my password.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 30, 2018, 09:50:20 pm
Brad thinks he is telling Paul about the Accolade agreement, but Paul thinks Brad is talking about the GoG agreement, and the message could be read either way.

Holy crap.  That would explain A LOT to how everyone acted initially, especially the years of relative amicability between them.  And drastic shift towards the defensive both sides took, recently.  The contract schedule from Exhibit 8 in the counter-claim, coincides with that.  Given the GOG.com agreement had been terminated 02/23/2016 in that schedule (which means it was received by Fred and Paul after that point), but the Accolade 1988 agreement was indicated as live...  That means for almost 3 years, Stardock had the GOG.com agreement... So any discussion about distribution rights may have been assumed to have been the GOG.com agreement by Paul for AT LEAST that period of time, until receipt of that contract schedule.  Meanwhile, Stardock assumes the Accolade 1988 agreement was still live based on it being a contract sold to them by Atari without rebuttal by Paul.

That is VERY INTERESTING find.  It explains so much.



Even if that's true, it's a misunderstanding that has been long since cleared up. Pardon me if any of this seems obvious to people who have been following these discussions...

Let's just say Stardock managed to keep Atari's deal with GOG alive for a few years. At best, it would have been a deal where Atari/Stardock sells the permission to use the Star Control Trademark in exchange for 25% of royalties on the games.

GOG still can't sell the games without the Copyright in the underlying product. So GOG's deal with Stardock is, at best, halfway there. That's why GOG also has a deal wiht P&F, where P&F allow them to sell the game in exchange for royalties. It's also why Atari couldn't sell the games through GOG without P&F -- as soon as GOG and Atari realized what had happened, Atari sent a removal notice.

Now, everyone agrees that P&F are the copyright holders, which includes a massive bundle of rights, including the right to publish. (That's how UQM is legal.)

The issue is whether Stardock purchased a license to those publishing rights from Atari.

Be clear: a license doesn't mean that you own any rights. It effectively means that you're renting a subset of those copyrights, with the permission of the copyright holder. In this case, the right to publish / sell / distribute / market the underlying product,

Stardock bought the 1988 license that would have expired. At best, it expired on Atari's bankruptcy. At worst, other termination clauses kicked in even sooner. Those were the terms of the license. At bankruptcy, Atari would be selling an expired agreement. In other words, nothing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Narsham on March 30, 2018, 10:06:28 pm
What I can say is that this community matters a great deal to me personally.

I lurked on here for years before creating an account 5 or so years ago.  But I have great admiration for it.

I think the people here are very fair minded and if anyone here should feel bad it's me.  If I knew that our revival of Star Control would create this kind of drama, we wouldn't have done it.  Do I think Ghosts would have happened? No.  But at least there would still be the undiluted good cheer. 

I know for myself how terribly I've felt about this whole thing. For almost my entire adult life, Paul and Fred were my heroes.  Fred the god coder and Paul who was not a one-hit wonder but imagined hit after hit.  Mail Order Monsters.  Archon. and of course Star Control.

The most embarrassing thing, in hindsight,is that I major part of my motivation was for them to be pleased with what we had created.  I really thought that if we showed them how good Star Control: Origins was, that they might leave Activision and I would build a studio around them to create games around their imaginations.  That is the, apparently, delusion I operated on for 5 years.

When Derek and I met Paul and Fred (contrary to their statement, we have met in person, they came to our booth and we were supposed to have dinner but our schedules got tight) I was just speechless. I must have looked like just a total fool in hindsight just looking on while Derek did most of the talking. 

I've made a lot of games over the years and developed many technologies that are on your PC right now.  My "fortune" has come from the tech and software, not the games.  But with Star Control, I thought we had the opportunity to give something back.  That the community I cared about, UQM in particular, had waited for years for a new Star Control game.  And if Paul and Fred couldn't do it (and as you know, I offered it to them at our cost) then we would.

I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.  But I hope you guys do understand how important this all is to us.  We could have just as easily called it Stellar Frontier and made a somewhat different game.  But I really believe in what Star Control represents.  This became doubly true after I saw "No Man's Sky" that mistook, IMO, exploration for exploration's sake as a reason unto itself.    Star Control is special because it combines deep lore with lots of subtlety with exploration.

Anyway, it's been a tough couple of weeks as you can imagine.  If you want to know how I feel, imagine having Paul and Fred represent you as they have represented me recently.  It's absolutely crushing.

There's a blurring between your personal reaction (big fans/hero worship of people who are now doing THIS to you) and your professional duties that makes me worry that no sort of negotiated settlement that grants both parties something can happen, not because such an agreement would be unwise, but because the situation is being treated personally. (I'm worried about Paul & Fred too, in this regard, but less so given that their settlement offer is more conciliatory.) Instructing your lawyers to take everything you can out of this lawsuit because you're hurt by what Paul and Fred have said may be your right, but it may not be the most responsible decision as a CEO. In theory, the other point of lawyers is so that two parties that never want to talk to each other again and hate each other don't have to negotiate, but can have interested but theoretically dispassionate representatives sort matters out. But obviously, it's your company.

In any event, if you believe you're making the right or necessary decision, you should reconcile yourself to being seen as the villain by some of the hardcore fans, because that will absolutely happen.

A few other thoughts for the thread:
1. It's odd to keep harping on Paul & Fred hiring a PR firm as if that were not cricket. Stardock has a PR department.
2. The Stardock FAQ page is useful, but I find it strange that items 14-18 are just summaries, especially as the souring of relations would appear to happen over this period. Why be selective here? It feeds into a potential narrative that Paul and Fred are posting complete documents while Stardock is releasing information selectively. That'd be less of a problem if Stardock hadn't said that Paul and Fred posted misleading information themselves.
3. The settlement documents have a few interesting differences worthy of mention: Stardock's makes Paul, Fred, and Stardock the parties to the agreement and requires confidentiality. Paul and Fred's adds Brad as a party and does not require confidentiality. The confidentiality part is clearly another volley in the PR war; Stardock wants everything and wants to make the settlement secret, while Paul and Fred just want their own stuff and they want the agreement in the open. I don't know enough about law to know whether Brad being or not being a direct party to the agreement is a shot across the bow.

In any event, it was an astute counteroffer and it's also clearly playing up the old-school contrast between the fan-gamer-programmers and the "suits." Whatever Brad may actually be as a person, I don't see a way for him to avoid being the "suit" in this scenario. At best, he makes a gesture of conciliation, either now or subsequent to the case, in order to reclaim some good will. Otherwise, he's the guy who stole the "real" sequel to SC2 from the fans (assuming Paul and Fred don't win or partially win the case).

Trying to have it both ways just helps reinforce the narrative Paul & Fred can construct (and spending much less of their own time to do so), which is that they are old-school programmers who would just as soon not care about business matters at all if they could manage it, and Brad is a predatory CEO trying to steal their legacy for his corporation. All the "but I'm one of you: a programmer, and fan, not a suit" postings from Brad, even if true, won't change the equations involved in the actual court case, trademark filings, etc.

I still think the best solution all-round would allow both the Stardock SC franchise and the P & F sequel to go forward with a minimum amount of additional fuss and no additional litigation, but every indication seems to be that neither party trusts the other at all any more and the solution will have to be court-imposed. Some degree of reconciliation later in the process might at least curtail the threat of future lawsuits, assuming that whatever final judgment is reached isn't so definitive as to strip either the rights to SC from Stardock or to strip the IP rights from Paul and Fred. I don't expect Paul & Fred to be magnanimous if they win; if Stardock is, Brad might win back some goodwill in the hopes of getting a future game I suspect he'd want to play himself, but I have doubts that will happen and if it does I doubt Paul & Fred will publish a game based on their own intellectual work on sufferance. From a fan perspective, the best hope is a legally-imposed compromise. That, or an agreement between the two parties that each will travel the galaxy in an opposite direction and then fight it all out when they meet again coming the other way.

Not a comparable example, but back when Microprose was going to release Civilization, the CEO of Avalon Hill (which published the boardgame Civilization) met with Microprose's CEO after threats of a lawsuit, and they reached a handshake agreement that each company would put an advertising flyer in the box of their game advertising the other company's game. In effect, Microprose breached a trademark and settled by exchanging advertising with Avalon Hill. Of course, most boardgamers willing to play a six player, six hour game would be interested in the computer game, and not so much the other direction, so this worked out great for only one of the two parties. But as a gamer, I can't help but be nostalgic for the naive but simple resolution.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 30, 2018, 10:55:42 pm
Not a comparable example, but back when Microprose was going to release Civilization, the CEO of Avalon Hill (which published the boardgame Civilization) met with Microprose's CEO after threats of a lawsuit, and they reached a handshake agreement that each company would put an advertising flyer in the box of their game advertising the other company's game. In effect, Microprose breached a trademark and settled by exchanging advertising with Avalon Hill. Of course, most boardgamers willing to play a six player, six hour game would be interested in the computer game, and not so much the other direction, so this worked out great for only one of the two parties. But as a gamer, I can't help but be nostalgic for the naive but simple resolution.

It may seem like a simple resolution, but for Stardock I think this is actually the whole point. It's the one thing that's remained the same, Stardock's repeated need for Paul and Fred to validate their game (if not them personally).

From the moment Stardock got involved in Star Control, they reached out over and over to Paul and Fred.

Stardock wanted to collaborate on a game with Paul and Fred. (P&F declined.)
Stardock wanted to license P&F's characters for their own game. (P&F declined.)
Stardock wanted to publish P&F's new game. (P&F declined.)
Stardock wanted to interview P&F as part of a promotion on their website. (P&F declined.)

And as things broke down...

Stardock made announcements to downplay P&F's role in the old games.
Stardock bundled a pre-order for their new game with P&F's old games.
All of Stardock's settlement offers still make them the publisher of P&F's old games.
All of Stardock's settlement offers include a statement where P&F promote SC:O.
Stardock was furious that fans found out about their request that P&F transfer all IP to Stardock, and not make any kind of space game for 5 years.

I guess it sounds more creepy when I type it out like that. But I think it's actually just shrewd business. Any settlement that has P&F directing their fans towards Stardock would give Stardock something that Atari couldn't sell.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 30, 2018, 11:32:38 pm
No one forced Paul and Fred to announce their new game as a sequel to Star Control.  No one forced them to double down and actively promote it as the "true" sequel to Star Control. No one forced them to go out and begin attacking us publicly.

These are all things that occurred before any public response from Stardock.

Star Control was owned by Accolade.  It was Accolade's game that contained licensed IP from Paul and Fred.  These are indisputable facts.  They are facts that don't diminish the genius that came from Paul and Fred.

Many of you have no idea how many of the products you use on a regular basis are licensed from one party and simply branded by another.  That doesn't make the product owned by the party that is licensing IP (or cereal or cough medicine or detergent or voice recognition, etc.).  

It was our hope that Paul and Fred would return and make a new game in their universe.  I was the one who posted first about it here on this very forum.  It was a win-win for this to happen.  It is not, however, a win-win when one party begins to represent their game as the "true" sequel while also trying to force us to change our game that we had been working on for years with their full knowledge and then publicly attacking attacking us.  Most reasonable people will look at the timing, the public actions and the private demands combined and draw what we think is a pretty obvious conclusion as to what their intent was.


Edit: Some people are far far over estimating my personal involvement in the suit or how "personal" it is.  I suspect most of you have never been involved in litigation.  Without getting into this case, as there is an order to avoid discussing it, there are settlements designed for public consumption and there are settlements designed to communicate to the other party the relative merits of the case.  Both are designed to allow the parties negotiate back and forth.  When a party violates confidentiality, that is not "conciliatory".  That is short-circuiting the process and increases the damage that that party will ultimately have to address.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 12:11:32 am
Most reasonable people will look at the timing, the public actions and the private demands combined and draw what we think is a pretty obvious conclusion as to what their intent was.

So, as a person who aspires to be reasonable, I think that their announcement post was ill-advised.  I also suspect that Paul&Fred probably honestly thought they were allowed to do this, either because it would be a nominative fair use, or because they believed that the trademark had lapsed, and could no longer be enforced.  I'm skeptical on that, but if this case goes forward, we'll see what the court says.

However, their announcement needs to be viewed in light of their email exchange with you a few days earlier, in which you insisted that the 1988 agreement was still valid (#19 in your Q&A).  That assertion would essentially mean that they could only make their game at your sufferance - that they would have to bargain with you for rights that they were certain that they already possessed.  As soon as you took that position, and did not immediately recant when they pointed out the termination clauses (#20 in your Q&A),  I suspect that they viewed your stance as a declaration of IP war, and determined that litigation would be inevitable.  Had you not sued them for trademark infringement first, I suspect they would probably have sued you anyway in order to get a declaratory judgement about the 1988 agreement.

My opinion here is that both sides had initial misconceptions about the IP situation - Stardock due to a misreading of the 1988 agreement, and P&F due to not understanding the precise limits of trademark protection.  I note that both sides seem to have backed off:  They no longer call GotP a "Sequel to Star Control", and you don't make the same claims about having the rights from the 1988 agreement that you did a few months ago.  I think both sides have learned better where the lines are, and I hope that you can come to an agreement that settles your future directions, without getting mired in recriminations over the events of November 2017.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 31, 2018, 12:52:37 am
Quote
The Stardock FAQ page is useful, but I find it strange that items 14-18 are just summaries, especially as the souring of relations would appear to happen over this period. Why be selective here? It feeds into a potential narrative that Paul and Fred are posting complete documents while Stardock is releasing information selectively. That'd be less of a problem if Stardock hadn't said that Paul and Fred posted misleading information themselves.

The QA has been updated.

https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

As previously mentioned, both parties are barred from settlement discussions so we cannot comment on that.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 31, 2018, 01:27:39 am
Most reasonable people will look at the timing, the public actions and the private demands combined and draw what we think is a pretty obvious conclusion as to what their intent was.

So, as a person who aspires to be reasonable, I think that their announcement post was ill-advised.  I also suspect that Paul&Fred probably honestly thought they were allowed to do this, either because it would be a nominative fair use, or because they believed that the trademark had lapsed, and could no longer be enforced.  I'm skeptical on that, but if this case goes forward, we'll see what the court says.

However, their announcement needs to be viewed in light of their email exchange with you a few days earlier, in which you insisted that the 1988 agreement was still valid (#19 in your Q&A).  That assertion would essentially mean that they could only make their game at your sufferance - that they would have to bargain with you for rights that they were certain that they already possessed.  As soon as you took that position, and did not immediately recant when they pointed out the termination clauses (#20 in your Q&A),  I suspect that they viewed your stance as a declaration of IP war, and determined that litigation would be inevitable.  Had you not sued them for trademark infringement first, I suspect they would probably have sued you anyway in order to get a declaratory judgement about the 1988 agreement.

My opinion here is that both sides had initial misconceptions about the IP situation - Stardock due to a misreading of the 1988 agreement, and P&F due to not understanding the precise limits of trademark protection.  I note that both sides seem to have backed off:  They no longer call GotP a "Sequel to Star Control", and you don't make the same claims about having the rights from the 1988 agreement that you did a few months ago.  I think both sides have learned better where the lines are, and I hope that you can come to an agreement that settles your future directions, without getting mired in recriminations over the events of November 2017.

Again: No one forced them to do what they did.   You also keep insisting that the 1988 agreement has expired.  Without going into the legal background on that, you are mistaken in assuming that that is a fact.

However, again, Stardock has not exploited that licensing agreement.

Remember: It's not like Stardock responded to their flagrant violation of our trademark by including the SC2 aliens and ships in our game.  

Instead, Stardock responded by changing the name Super-Melee everywhere in the game to Fleet Battles even though we were having a private dispute in order to placate them.

To suggest that there is a "fair use" to call your new game a sequel to someone else's product -- one that is actively in development, 5 days before it goes live with its big beta day that had been planned for a year is not reasonable.  Do you have any idea how many products you use every that that are purely licensed with a brand (trademark) slapped on it?  Do you really believe, for a second, that the company licensing the detergent, technology, food, display could announce a new product and represent it as a direct sequel or successor to the other company's product?

The only thing that Stardock did that you could argue offended them was make the game available on Steam http://steamspy.com/app/358920 which they receive royalties for.  There's no damage there.  If the stars align and they were to win that case they'd get some percent of the $10,000 in sales from that. Maybe.  That's assuming the jury wasn't so angry at being hauled in from work to go through a trial over something so trivial because Paul and Fred were "very very" angry on principle that they came up with a fitting "award" for them.

Stardock and Paul and Fred obviously disagree on whether the license is in effect.  But right now, it's a trivial disagreement.

By contrast, they did something that did tangible harm to us in the form of confused consumers, marketing dilution, etc.  They completely took the wind out of our Star Control: Fleet battles announcement because suddenly the press believed there was a second new Star Control game coming. How much in sales will they have cost us due to the lost marketing time, the confusion by fans, having to compete with a vaporous product that uses our own brand to compete with us?  Pick a percent.  We'll have spend just over $9 million on this game by the time it's released.  We expect it to make multiples on that.  Go ahead and pick your own best-guess (we will have both our own analysis and expert witnesses that will do that as well).  And that is all before their public attacks on us designed to maximize damage to our reputation and good will.

And now, because Paul and Fred violated rule 408, the judge has ordered the parties not to publicly discuss settlement which takes away our ability to even brainstorm with the fan community on different ideas that might work to solve these disputes impossible (remember how on Reddit their fans insulted me for not understanding rule 408?)

Like I've tried to tell you, Elestan, I've been in a lot of IP litigation over the years -- patents, trademarks, copyrights.  We were once sued for violating an obscure fax machine UI patent in one of our products that any Internet lawyer would tell you was absurd.  That's not how it works.  Litigation and IP law are complex things that are best avoided.   Disagreements should be handled with people talking to each other, preferably over beer.

One final note: Incidentally, in order to make it crystal clear that protecting our IP is our concern not the right to sell 25 year old DOS games, Stardock will be asking its distributors to remove the DOS games by April 4.  


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 02:30:16 am
You also keep insisting that the 1988 agreement has expired.  Without going into the legal background on that, you are mistaken in assuming that that is a fact.

Well, none of what you've posted so far; either here, in your FAQ, or in your complaint, provides any explanation for why the termination clauses wouldn't apply.  In your email exchange with Paul in early Nov 2017, both of you cite section 2.2, which reads:

Quote from: 1988 Agreement
This License Agreement shall continue in effect with respect to the sale, licensing and sublicensing of each Work, Derivative Work and Derivative Product, for as long as such Work, Derivative Work, and Derivative Product are generating royalties to the Developer at least of $1000 per annum.

I think that it's an uncontested fact that there have been years during which Paul did not receive $1000 in royalties from the SC franchise.  So I just don't see how this clause didn't end the agreement.  I might assume my own legal ignorance, except that Accolade/Atari's lawyers, and Paul/Fred's lawyers all seemed to believe the same thing, and they were the ones who wrote it.

And if you had a solid legal basis for why 2.2 didn't mean what F&P thought, you sure didn't explain it to them, at least not in anything revealed so far.  Given the new settlement Order, I suppose your lawyers will have to be explaining this to the magistrate soon.

Quote
Stardock and Paul and Fred obviously disagree on whether the license is in effect.  But right now, it's a trivial disagreement.

So, you spent a couple paragraphs emphasizing how the license issue was trivial, and the trademark issue was the main focus.  I rather strongly suspect that if I were to ask Fred and Paul, I would get the exact opposite emphasis.

I think from their perspective, it's the other way around:  The trademark dispute is a distraction, and the publishing license is their primary concern.  The trademark is just about damages; if they infringed it, they pay you some money, end of story.  The license is what determines if they have the right (without asking your permission) to do what they've been wanting to do for decades:  Make a new game in the UQM universe.  I think that means more to them than whatever trademark damages you could realistically claim from their post.

And of course, even from your perspective, the license should matter, because if it's expired, Paul can take a magnifying glass to SC:O looking for trivial copyright infringements...and maybe even injunct you against releasing, if the court decides your game is too like SC2. I think that would be pretty hostile and unfriendly of Paul, but if you've just taken him for a bunch of money enforcing your trademark to the limit, I couldn't fault him for doing the same with his copyright.   (yes, this is another plea to settle the whole thing)

Quote
And now, because Paul and Fred violated rule 408, the judge has ordered the parties not to publicly discuss settlement which takes away our ability to even brainstorm with the fan community on different ideas that might work to solve these disputes impossible (remember how on Reddit their fans insulted me for not understanding rule 408?)

So, I've read the magistrate's Order, but it doesn't mention Rule 408, and this article (https://www.butlerrubin.com/wp-content/uploads/AIRROC-Matter-4-2014.pdf) seems to say that Rule 408 just means that settlement discussions can't be introduced as evidence, not that it actually enforces confidentiality on the parties.  In fact, the thrust of the article is that Rule 408 does not provide such protections, and that litigants need to get a separate order if they want to keep the discussions private.  So I still don't see how Rule 408 has anything to do with this.  Could you explain?

Quote
One final note: Incidentally, in order to make it crystal clear that protecting our IP is our concern not the right to sell 25 year old DOS games, Stardock will be asking its distributors to remove the DOS games by April 4.

I don't think anyone is thinking that it's the publishing rights for the old games that you care about.  But the 1988 agreement also (as you point out in your Q&A #30) governs the ability to make new games using Paul's IP.  That's the IP right that matters.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on March 31, 2018, 03:36:15 am
You have persuaded me that you are either intellectually dishonest or just so obtuse that talking to you is just a waste of time, Elestan.  I've spent enough years on Usenet to recognize the latter, which is what I suspect is the category you fit in to know that no matter how obvious a point is, you will argue it just for the sake of arguing while conveniently forgetting everything that has been previously been explained to you (like nearly every argument you just made).

I can only refer you to re-read what was written and consider it. 


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 31, 2018, 03:50:59 am
Paul can take a magnifying glass to SC:O looking for trivial copyright infringements...and maybe even injunct you against releasing, if the court decides your game is too like SC2.

No, he can't.

Well he could have if Stardock accepted that publicized settlement proposal.

There are games that thrive on being copies of former greats, Cities Skylines comes to recent mind.
Blatant ripoff of Sim City even down to the people who live in the city called, "Cims".

Where's the lawsuit?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 03:52:32 am
You have persuaded me that you are either intellectually dishonest or just so obtuse that talking to you is just a waste of time, Elestan.  I've spent enough years on Usenet to recognize the latter, which is what I suspect is the category you fit in to know that no matter how obvious a point is, you will argue it just for the sake of arguing while conveniently forgetting everything that has been previously been explained to you (like nearly every argument you just made).

I can only refer you to re-read what was written and consider it.

I apologize for being so slow on the uptake.  Clearly, I've missed something that must be patently(sorry, this is about trademark and copyright) obvious to the many non-obtuse people who are also reading this.  Perhaps one of them could help me out, and tell me how the license agreement would still be active?  Or how the settlement order relates to Rule 408?

If nobody steps forward, then I suppose everyone here must be obtuse.  Or...I might humbly suggest that you consider...just consider...another possibility:

I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 04:11:19 am
Paul can take a magnifying glass to SC:O looking for trivial copyright infringements...and maybe even injunct you against releasing, if the court decides your game is too like SC2.

No, he can't.

Well he could have if Stardock accepted that publicized settlement proposal.

There are games that thrive on being copies of former greats, Cities Skylines comes to recent mind.
Blatant ripoff of Sim City even down to the people who live in the city called, "Cims".

Where's the lawsuit?

The danger is that there are parts of copyright law that can get pretty subjective (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substantial_similarity).  Personally, I wouldn't want them applied to any game, but Brad himself has indicated that he's worried about P&F coming after him if someone makes a ship that looks too like the Ur-Quan.  I myself wouldn't support P&F doing that unless the infringement is pretty blatant - I think Brad should even be able to have "Super-Melee", as long as he avoids the old ships.  But there's a risk of getting dragged down a rathole, and I think the best way to avoid it is to settle on terms that negate the more subjective areas of copyright.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Serosis on March 31, 2018, 04:46:48 am
But there's a risk of getting dragged down a rathole, and i think the best way to avoid it is to settle on terms that negate the more subjective areas of copyright.

That's what is going to happen or it goes to trial. Any previous settlements we have seen were simply litmus tests.
They'll be tightened up for sure so that both sides can at least leave the court with their sanity intact. Maybe not even that.

But there's no way this doesn't end in a settlement. Especially now that both sides have to stop talking about the settlements publicly.
https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/#entry-36

Meaning no more court of opinion.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on March 31, 2018, 04:54:34 am
Paul can take a magnifying glass to SC:O looking for trivial copyright infringements...and maybe even injunct you against releasing, if the court decides your game is too like SC2.

No, he can't.

When it comes to the mechanical design, concepts, and function...  You are correct.  That falls well under patent law territory.  The only game company I think ever had a patent that protected a type of game, at least in the tabletop games industry, is Wizards of the Coast with Magic: The Gathering - https://patents.google.com/patent/USRE37957E1     This is one of the reasons why no tabletop game of recent era uses the term "tapping".  No one wants Daddy WoTC knocking on their door, because Grand Daddy Hasbro ain't that far behind.

BUT...  When it comes to the tangible assets/works used to represent the designs, concepts, and function, that falls under copyright territory and a product can be examined to find derivative assets within the product itself.  So no Spathi icon on the emergency hyperspace button, code straight from the original games (which shouldn't be too hard to avoid), and, arguably, unique terms that are used in a very similar context.  This is why Paizo's Pathfinder spell list has a lot of functionally similar spells, but unique names and rules descriptions are different from Wizards of the Coast's Dungeons and Dragons.

There's debate about whether such could be extended to the ship builder, but I believe that's NOT enforceable (the ship builder is a mechanism to make works) and any online service regarding the ship builder would probably fall under the Safe Harbors in the DMCA.  So Stardock is perfectly fine on that front, and will just need policy to purge any designs that get a DMCA notice that provides a legitimate copyright violation concern.  Similar to what ISPs have to do and Youtube... but less with the trigger happy AI.


The trademark is just about damages; if they infringed it, they pay you some money, end of story.

Thinking about the point of Trrademark infringment and what damages could be collected...  I don't think there's much to collect.  Reading up on the Lanham Act when it comes to recovering for violation of rights  ( https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1117 ), apart from costs of the taking action (legal fees, lawyer fees, and anything spent to take action against the infringement), damage seems to revolve around profits that were misdirected to the defendant from the plaintiff.  Unless there's another clause that handles other aspects that could be considered damages, the defendants infringement has to be related to the "sale, offering for sale, or distribution of goods or services".  An announcement of a possible product in the future that may or not may come into existence does not seem to fall into that category.

That's a tricky one to argue.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 05:01:10 am
But there's no way this doesn't end in a settlement. Especially now that both sides have to stop talking about the settlements publicly.
https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/#entry-36

Meaning no more court of opinion.

There will still be a court of opinion, though.  Discovery is still going to go on, and much of that will still be public.  At some point (I think by July), if they haven't settled by then, Stardock will have to respond publicly to F&P's countercomplaint (they have to make a private response by the end of the month), and say why they think the 1988 agreement is still valid (if they plan to make that argument).

I think a settlement should be possible; the important points Brad talked about earlier in this thread don't seem so far from F&P's settlement proposal that a deal couldn't be reached.  And this time, the magistrate will be there to help with talks.  But it's never a sure thing.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: SirPrimalform on March 31, 2018, 05:15:31 am
Star Control was owned by Accolade.  It was Accolade's game that contained licensed IP from Paul and Fred.  These are indisputable facts.  They are facts that don't diminish the genius that came from Paul and Fred.

Star Control the trademark, the brand, was owned by Accolade. They never at any point owned the game.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 05:23:24 am
Thinking about the point of Trrademark infringment and what damages could be collected...  I don't think there's much to collect.  Reading up on the Lanham Act when it comes to recovering for violation of rights  ( https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1117 ), apart from costs of the taking action (legal fees, lawyer fees, and anything spent to take action against the infringement), damage seems to revolve around profits that were misdirected to the defendant from the plaintiff.  Unless there's another clause that handles other aspects that could be considered damages, the defendants infringement has to be related to the "sale, offering for sale, or distribution of goods or services".  An announcement of a possible product in the future that may or not may come into existence does not seem to fall into that category.

They're going for triple actual damages under 15 U.S.C. ß 1117(b) for willful infringement, and statutory damages under 15 U.S.C. ß 1117(c) for counterfeiting, as well as a number of other things.  I assume they're thinking that a product announcement counts as "offering for sale".

How they prove actual damages on a game that isn't released yet is, indeed, tricky.  I assume their lawyers have a plan.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on March 31, 2018, 07:39:24 am
No one forced Paul and Fred to announce their new game as a sequel to Star Control.  No one forced them to double down and actively promote it as the "true" sequel to Star Control. No
one forced them to go out and begin attacking us publicly.

I mean, this is just a corollary of what I previously said: Stardock deeply needs P&F's public blessing to make SC:O more than "Star Control in name only". The same way that Stardock was asking for any collaboration to get some of P&F's shine, all of these actions by P&F cut pretty deeply towards keeping their own shine. Litigation aside, it takes Stardock's highest hopes, throws them in a dumpster, and lights them on fire.

Quote from: Brad Wardell
Over the past 4 years, we have communicated regarding the progress of Star Control: Origins. He asked us not to try to make a sequel to Star Control 2 and said that he hoped one day to be able to return to the universe he and Fred Ford created.

Recently, Paul told me the good news: Activision was going to let him do a true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/) (i.e. Star Control III is not canon for that universe).

Likewise, no one forced Stardock to match P&F's announcement about their own Star Control sequel by also calling it a Star Control sequel, let alone a "true" sequel.

It doesn't make sense if the primary concern is to supposedly protect IP. It would be incredibly boneheaded to basically cede your Trademark to someone else's product if your primary goal was to protect your Trademark. Even if you only made that mistake for a few weeks.

But this makes way more sense if Stardock's primary concern is to associate SC:O with Paul and Fred.

At the end of the day, the law is what it is, and lawyers can only argue what people are legally entitled to do. But Stardock seems far more concerned with P&F's refusal to validate SC:O, and, if anything, treating it with less approval than even Star Control 3.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 31, 2018, 05:24:33 pm
I apologize for being so slow on the uptake.  Clearly, I've missed something that must be patently(sorry, this is about trademark and copyright) obvious to the many non-obtuse people who are also reading this.  Perhaps one of them could help me out, and tell me how the license agreement would still be active?  Or how the settlement order relates to Rule 408?

Elestan, you have the patience of a saint.

Or else the comedy genius of Eve Online's James 315.

Either one works for me.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 31, 2018, 05:42:27 pm
But there's no way this doesn't end in a settlement. Especially now that both sides have to stop talking about the settlements publicly.
https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/#entry-36

I disagree.  The only way I see this ending in a settlement is if Stardock totally capitulates on the vast majority of its claims.  Stardock has not been behaving as though they consider that an acceptable outcome.

I was discussing this case with someone yesterday who had just learned about it through the Leonard French youtube coverage.  They asked, "Something I don't understand.  Was making their own game in this a do-or-die move for Stardock?  Did they have no choice but to bet the company on it?"  I answered, "No, worst case they make the game and it isn't a commercial success - or they decide they can't make it with an expectation of a return on investment in which case they trash all the work they've done and move to a different project.  That's fairly common in gaming; you take a loss but if you have a financial margin of some sort you move on, and Stardock has other business interests, so they should be able to absorb the loss - it'd be painful but not a bet-the-company move.  What will be a bet-the-company move is if it goes to trial; if the jury finds against Stardock, the punitive damages could bankrupt them."  To which the other person said: "Yeah, that was my take on the situation too, and I don't see how Stardock can win.  Which is why I really don't understand why they went this way."

It would not surprise me at all if Ford & Reiche believe the jury will come to the same conclusions.  If they have that belief, Stardock would have to offer them a very, very sweet deal to come to some sort of settlement.  The problem, as rosepatel has been saying, is that Stardock has nothing Ford & Reiche particularly want, while Ford & Reiche have stuff that Stardock appears to desperately want and is trying to take.

The more I see of this whole affair the more I think that Stardock decided they really needed the SC2 IP associated in some way to assure their game's success, and decided they were going to get it no matter what.  That, certainly, is a bet-the-company move, and the only explanation I can think of for why they went for it is that they never took seriously the possibility that they might lose.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 06:02:17 pm
That's fairly common in gaming; you take a loss but if you have a financial margin of some sort you move on, and Stardock has other business interests, so they should be able to absorb the loss - it'd be painful but not a bet-the-company move.

Brad has said that a failure of SC:O would be ruinous to Stardock.  Obviously, we can't know for sure; Stardock's finances are private, and they currently have an incentive to play up any losses they might suffer.

Quote
What will be a bet-the-company move is if it goes to trial; if the jury finds against Stardock, the punitive damages could bankrupt them.

Because Paul didn't register the copyright to SC2 until last December, Stardock is only liable for actual damages for infringements prior to that date, and those are unlikely to be more than a few thousand dollars.  I suppose they could face punitive damages for keeping them up after that date, but even the punitive damages would only be in the hundreds of thousands; not enough to be a mortal threat.  And I also notice that Stardock has just announced that they'll be taking them down, as an act of good faith.  It could also be because if they think they're going to lose on that point, keeping them up increases their potential liability.

The threat of the trademark getting cancelled would be a bit more annoying, but even in the worst case I don't see why they couldn't just re-register it.  They've already registered a separate service mark for "Star Control", and Paul's suit makes no claim that Paul should get ownership of the trademark.

The biggest threat I see to Stardock is to potentially have to start second-guessing their UI, artwork, or other creative aspects of the game to avert any legal risk of their being deemed "substantially similar" to Paul's copyrighted IP.  It really sucks when lawyers start sticking their nose into your production and development teams' decisions.

EDIT:  Actually, there's one other potential risk.  When Stardock counter-noticed P&F's DMCA on GoG for SC1&2, that declaration was made under penalty of perjury.  If a judge finds that it was not reasonable for them to think that they had a license, they could get in a fair bit of trouble.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on March 31, 2018, 08:14:14 pm
But there's no way this doesn't end in a settlement. Especially now that both sides have to stop talking about the settlements publicly.
https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/#entry-36

"Yeah, that was my take on the situation too, and I don't see how Stardock can win.  Which is why I really don't understand why they went this way."

Given Stardock's general attitude towards this situation, their efforts they have made to mass filing trademarks upon the elements from the old property, how they have been focusing significantly upon status of authorship of the copyrighted material, and that they amended their complain to include copyright infringement...   I don't think they care that much about the trademark issue in comparison to their interests towards the copyrighted material from the classic games.

The Trademark issue ultimately wouldn't be a threat to Star Control: Origins getting released.  Stardock is a big company, they have a significant fan base, and most of that fan base will pretty much go with whatever Stardock does at this point.  Let's face it, the old Star Control community is maybe a thousand or so folks, total.  Stardock's fandom is easily pushing a lot more than that.  So, Stardock has fandom on their side.  Before the launch of litigation, most the old community was at least interested in Star Control: Origins to give a try because it has been portrayed as a Star Control game in form and function, and the construction tools looked really cool.  The Stardock fandom, it was another good looking space game from Stardock aligned with most of their preferences.  With the Ghost of he Precursors announcement, I don't think that changed anything.  The old Star Control fandom looked over and collectively thought, "Awesome!  This might be finally happening!  Finally continue the story where it left off AND I get to play around with Star Control: Origin's creation tools and adventure building platform.  What a nice year!"  Meanwhile, a healthy portion of the Stardock fandom didn't even notice that announcement happened, the remainder were still going to buy Star Control: Origins, and a segment of that were thinking along the same lines the old fandom "Cool, two games for things I like!".

So, the dramatic launch of litigation from Stardock after the DMCA Notice from Fred and Paul just feels WEIRD, especially with the trademark filing barrage from Stardock.  Because, the copyright issue with selling the old games has happened before on record with Atari.  Fred and Paul, Atari, and GOG.com rechecked everything and Atari realized that they were in the wrong, but they were all able to negotiate something.  If Atari could rebuff Fred and Paul legal, they would have.  Atari was still riding decently high at that point, so it would have been no thing to shutdown Fred and Paul if they had the legal grounds.  So, the trademark infringement claim from Stardock is just kind of out of the blue, especially with the amount of association that Stardock itself had made to Fred and Paul's project in the past.  Finally, the trademark filing upon "The Ur-Quan Masters" really got me, especially with the REALLY shoddy justification.  (Sharing assets and content to the community is a copyright issue, not a trademark issue.  Take a look t the open gaming license from Wizards of the Coast.)  So...  The old copyrights must hold a bit more weight than at first glance.

With Stardock's fandom and marketing/PR team, they could rename Star Control: Origin to Stardock: Origins and it would sell just as well under that name.  From general impressions, most folks are attracted to the exploration, customization, modding, building, and other components rather than anything to deal with old Star Control elements.  I was actually a lot more interested in the game just doing its own thing content wise, since I've been burned multiple time by the practice of other companies handling IP they've acquired.  So, it was a bit refreshing to see someone doing their own take in the spirit of it all.

The What, Who, Where, and Hows have been explored really deeply throughout this whole scenario, but a lot of  "Why"s remain unknown.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: vok3 on March 31, 2018, 10:06:31 pm
Brad has said that a failure of SC:O would be ruinous to Stardock.  

1) At this point I am not willing to consider any statements he makes regarding Stardock's finances in the absence of specific external evidence.
2) Last time I saw much discussion of Stardock's finances, games were a side thing for them and WindowBlinds was the primary income driver.  Maybe that's changed.
3) There's different types of failure.  SC:O could be exactly what everyone expected it to be - a stand-alone game with expansion potential with no connection whatsoever to SC2/UQM - and have success in the market ranging from "pretty good" to "meh".  Where Stardock NEEDS it to be in order to make money is unknown to us; however, even a "meh" result would bring in SOME money.  The marginal difference in the bottom line between tacking on the SC2 IP by virtue of legal force (with corresponding antagonizing of the most vocal and dedicated SC2 fans, the ones most likely to influence the buzz around SC:O), and not having any SC2 IP involved at all, is much much smaller than the marginal difference between winning and losing a court case.  I expect the SC2 marginal benefit is significantly smaller than the cost of merely fighting the court case.
4) If SC:O's market performance without the addition of the SC2 IP is likely to endanger Stardock's continued existence, maybe that's something Brad should have thought about during the trademark auction and before spending a few million dollars more on it.

SC:O was entirely capable of ending in the ballpark of its best-case scenario without legal maneuvers - and every single thing Brad Wardell has posted has left me less convinced that Stardock has justification for its legal moves.  If anything is ruinous to Stardock, it will be Stardock's own actions.

At this point I am not able to come up with a coherent explanation of what I've seen other than that Brad made all his calculations based on the assumption that he WOULD be able to use SC2 and that it was just a matter of asking often enough or nicely enough, and had absolutely no fallback plan to deal with the refusal.

Quote
Because Paul didn't register the copyright to SC2 until last December,

Copyrights don't need to be registered.  They exist implicitly as soon as the work is created.  IP infringement damages can be astronomical.  I refer you to Silicon Knights and Too Human for an example.  Unless further facts come to light, that type of outcome is well within the realm of possibility here.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on March 31, 2018, 10:22:56 pm
Because Paul didn't register the copyright to SC2 until last December, Stardock is only liable for actual damages for infringements prior to that date, and those are unlikely to be more than a few thousand dollars.
Copyrights don't need to be registered.  They exist implicitly as soon as the work is created.  IP infringement damages can be astronomical.  I refer you to Silicon Knights and Too Human for an example.  Unless further facts come to light, that type of outcome is well within the realm of possibility here.

Please read what I wrote more closely.  You are correct about implicit copyright, but the damages are limited (https://jux.law/why-you-must-register-a-copyright) for infringements that occur before you register it.



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 01, 2018, 01:55:56 am
Brad has said that a failure of SC:O would be ruinous to Stardock.  

1) At this point I am not willing to consider any statements he makes regarding Stardock's finances in the absence of specific external evidence.
2) Last time I saw much discussion of Stardock's finances, games were a side thing for them and WindowBlinds was the primary income driver.  Maybe that's changed.
3) There's different types of failure.  SC:O could be exactly what everyone expected it to be - a stand-alone game with expansion potential with no connection whatsoever to SC2/UQM - and have success in the market ranging from "pretty good" to "meh".  Where Stardock NEEDS it to be in order to make money is unknown to us; however, even a "meh" result would bring in SOME money.  The marginal difference in the bottom line between tacking on the SC2 IP by virtue of legal force (with corresponding antagonizing of the most vocal and dedicated SC2 fans, the ones most likely to influence the buzz around SC:O), and not having any SC2 IP involved at all, is much much smaller than the marginal difference between winning and losing a court case.  I expect the SC2 marginal benefit is significantly smaller than the cost of merely fighting the court case.
4) If SC:O's market performance without the addition of the SC2 IP is likely to endanger Stardock's continued existence, maybe that's something Brad should have thought about during the trademark auction and before spending a few million dollars more on it.

SC:O was entirely capable of ending in the ballpark of its best-case scenario without legal maneuvers - and every single thing Brad Wardell has posted has left me less convinced that Stardock has justification for its legal moves.  If anything is ruinous to Stardock, it will be Stardock's own actions.

At this point I am not able to come up with a coherent explanation of what I've seen other than that Brad made all his calculations based on the assumption that he WOULD be able to use SC2 and that it was just a matter of asking often enough or nicely enough, and had absolutely no fallback plan to deal with the refusal.

Quote
Because Paul didn't register the copyright to SC2 until last December,

Copyrights don't need to be registered.  They exist implicitly as soon as the work is created.  IP infringement damages can be astronomical.  I refer you to Silicon Knights and Too Human for an example.  Unless further facts come to light, that type of outcome is well within the realm of possibility here.

You really should read the updated Q & A that includes the email correspondence.  As a Star Control fan, I can empathize how important it must seem to include the old aliens in the new game or to have Paul and Fred's approval.  But to the average person? It's not very important.  Ask a typical gamer who remembers Star Control and their memories will be positive but vague.  They don't know or care who Paul and Fred are.  They may vaguely remember a caterpillar alien.

https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

It should be pretty evident based on the emails here who has been truthful and who has not.  These are unedited. 



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on April 01, 2018, 02:47:55 am
You really should read the updated Q & A (https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred) that includes the email correspondence.

I definitely appreciate the addition of the emails there; they've helped a lot to illustrate the tone of the conversations, and who was saying what, when.

Quote
t should be pretty evident based on the emails here who has been truthful and who has not.  These are unedited.

There's a fair bit of text there to comb through...could you point us at the specific untruthful statements you're looking at?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Deus Siddis on April 01, 2018, 03:52:17 am
https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

It should be pretty evident based on the emails here who has been truthful and who has not.  These are unedited. 

I have read over those emails a few times and I am having trouble seeing this dishonesty you refer to.

Things seem quite civil until #18, where your tone suddenly changes and you start talking about using their IP without their permission. You had not before threatened to do this or before expressed your belief that you held a license on their IP in perpetuity (which they believe they saw expire long before you or GoG came into the picture due to the sales term if nothing else). Before you sounded like an interested fan, proudly showing off your progress and asking them questions from a fan perspective, including if they will ever create a true sequel. But then when they answer your sequel question, you go suddenly 180 on them. That's the point where things get tense and escalate quickly.

That might have instead been a good opportunity for you to express your understanding of trademark law that you have expressed here and politely reminded them not to cross that line in their opening announcement. And then if you desired, offered to trade them some kind of license to use your Star Control trademark to advertise their project in exchange for a new (legally extant) license for you to use some of their copyrighted material (like the ur-quan or yehat) and/or in exchange for delaying their announcement by some number of months (or whichever condition(s) you most wanted from them).

Especially considering how FAR apart your games will be on their release schedules. You have so many years head start. Anyone interested in Origins is not going to clutch that extra 30 USD waiting 3 or 5 years for GotP to come out. They will buy your game first, then theirs years later when it becomes available.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 01, 2018, 04:36:49 am
Also, if the distribution deal expired on bankruptcy, it wouldn't make sense for Atari to send an email. Atari would have been no more.
Uh. What? Bankruptcy isn't the end of a company. Or am I misinterpreting what you said here?


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on April 01, 2018, 06:33:19 am
Things seem quite civil until #18, where your tone suddenly changes and you start talking about using their IP without their permission.

To be fair, I can understand Brad's reaction in #18; I think he was pretty blindsided by the announcement of their new game.  Remember, from his perspective, he believed that he had the exclusive license to that IP (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77281#msg77281), so he didn't legally need their permission to use it in his game; rather, they needed his permission to use it in their game, and they didn't even ask him.

So I don't blame Brad for being a bit put-out at that point.  But then we get to the part that I can't make sense of, where Stardock and P&F are both looking at the 1988 agreement, and Stardock concludes that it's still active despite the termination clauses.  I don't think I'll be able to make sense of Stardock's actions after this point until I understand what their rationale for that is.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 01, 2018, 06:54:08 am
With regards to who was being honest and who was not, go towards the bottom of the FAQ.

Note all the allegations of dishonesty theyíve leveled at me personally such as saying weíve having never met, claiming that I lied when I said they said their jobs at Activision prevented them from working with us, and so on. You can read the paragraph and compare it to their actual words.  Thatís pretty serious stuff to charge in a court document, especially when it can be proven to be completely false.

Iím going to bow out of this discussion for the time being. Apparently Paul and Fredís lawyer is complaining about it.  Iím not looking to antagonize opposing counsel but I do want him to understand the harm their false allegations have done to Stardock and myself in particular and that false allegations that they chose to make public will not go unanswered.  Iíd rather all of this had been handled professionally and privately in the first place.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on April 01, 2018, 09:13:17 am
Note all the allegations of dishonesty theyíve leveled at me personally such as saying weíve having never met, claiming that I lied when I said they said their jobs at Activision prevented them from working with us, and so on. You can read the paragraph and compare it to their actual words.

Okay, let's take a look at the two specific items you mentioned.  I won't ask any questions of you, since you've been asked to back away from this.

Quote from: Frogboy
...saying weíve having never met...

So, in their countercomplaint, they do acknowledge meeting you (once):

Quote from: P&F Countercomplaint #70
On or about March 4, 2015, Reiche and Ford briefly met Wardell and Derek Paxton from Stardock for the first and only time at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California

I think you may be referring to them saying that you've never spoken, in their #68 (which I analyze further below).

Quote from: Frogboy
...claiming that I lied when I said they said their jobs at Activision prevented them from working with us...

I think this is referring to their #68:

Quote from: P&F Countercomplaint #68
on January 3, 2014 Wardell gave an interview (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/01/stardock-ceo-reveals-details-about-new-star-control-title-in-development/)[link added] in which he made a series of false or misleading statements about connections between Stardock and Reiche and Ford.

Presuming this is the part you were talking about, I need to first note that they did not actually accuse you of lying, but rather of making false or misleading statements.  Some might call that splitting hairs, but there's a real difference: Accusing you of lying would be more serious; a lie is a knowing falsehood that is also a deliberate attempt to mislead, so it would impugn your motivations in addition to your actions.

What P&F say is:

Quote from: P&F Countercomplaint #68
Wardell falsely stated that he had ďtalked to [Reiche and Ford] quite a bitĒ and would ďbe talking to Paul and Fred as we go forwardĒ about Stardockís new game, when in fact they had never spoken and Reiche and Ford had wholly declined to work with Stardock on the game.
Quote from: P&F Countercomplaint #68
Wardell misleadingly suggested that Reiche and Ford simply could not be ďofficiallyĒ involved because of their existing jobs, when in fact they actually declined any involvement because they did not want Stardock or anyone else to further develop their world, and they had always planned to work on it themselves in the future.

So, let's look at what you actually said in the interview (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/01/stardock-ceo-reveals-details-about-new-star-control-title-in-development/), and how true it seems to be:

Quote from: Ars Interview
Whatever answers [to SC2 mysteries] are revealed, Wardell assured Ars that they will be true to the creators' intentions. "We'll be talking to Paul and Fred as we go forward," he noted.

I'm going to call this one "true but misleading" on both sides:

  • You're expressing your intent to keep in communication with them, which is fine.  But, you're implying that purchasers of SC:O might get to see P&F-blessed resolutions of some of SC2's mysteries, and Paul hasn't given you any indication that he's willing to let you do this.
  • However, P&F are also being misleading in their denial; when they say "they had never spoken", they're being excessively literal; your conversations were over email, not "spoken" in person or over the phone, but that's an immaterial difference here.

Quote from: Brad(Ars Interview)
"I talked to them quite a bit about what level of involvement they would like to have in the new game," he said

I'm going to call this one "Too subjective to call" on your part, because you had exchanged a few emails, but "quite a bit" isn't well-defined.  On P&F's part, I'm again going to say they're being unreasonably literal on "talked".

Quote from: Brad(Ars Interview)
"The main issue is that Toys for Bob is owned by Activision now, and as a result they cannot be officially involved at present."

Based on Paul's Sep 16, 2013 email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/dd82f909-49ef-4a81-a160-a9664274ff18.png), I have to agree with P&F that this was misleading.  While the first half of Paul's email does indicate that Activision wouldn't allow it, the second half states unequivocally that "Fred and I are just not comfortable handing over our world to be developed by others."  Full stop.  So it was misleading to tell the interviewer that the "main issue" was Activision, when Paul had already made it clear that he and Fred would not be giving permission in any case.

Obviously, I'm not on the jury.  But for whatever it's worth, this is how I would find on these points if I was.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on April 01, 2018, 04:12:38 pm
They say in the complaint that they had never spoken with Stardock as of January 2014, then later say they met for the "first and only time" in 2015. Unless you met before then, I don't see the dishonesty there.

Stardock's big mistake was to hold the license over them. Maybe their lawyers have a creative reading or some special document that changes everything, but right now it looks like a pretty questionable interpretation of the contract. Brad is putting Fred and Paul into a subordinate relationship regarding the whole franchise in the e-mails, however benevolently he may plan to use that power (Point 11 of the offer list in particular would really stick in my craw). No matter how it's phrased, it's easy to see why they would feel threatened. The biggest issue in Stardock's complaint is the trademark, but when things started going downhill in the e-mails the trademark appears to have been mostly in the background. If Stardock had stuck with negotiating over the TM/copyright split, things would probably never have escalated - F&P seem pretty open to working with Stardock on that point and coordinating consistent messaging.

Also whatever Stardock's intentions, it looks ambiguous to me in the e-mails if they were still planning to use the original ships (not aliens) in Melee whether Fred and Paul liked it or not. Maybe they didn't intend to, but it's not entirely clear from the e-mails alone. The timing of the Ghosts announcement may have been because they were afraid of Stardock getting their ships into Melee first without permission and wanted to preempt it. Maybe that was the wrong way to handle it though.

Quote
Stardock and Paul and Fred obviously disagree on whether the license is in effect.  But right now, it's a trivial disagreement.
Quote
One final note: Incidentally, in order to make it crystal clear that protecting our IP is our concern not the right to sell 25 year old DOS games, Stardock will be asking its distributors to remove the DOS games by April 4.  
Kudos for removing the games; it shows an attempt at good faith and I hope this helps move toward a settlement. But I think Fred and Paul feel the opposite about what the primary concern in this case is - whether the license still applies is obviously very important to them and not trivial at all. Both sides clearly see this case as being fundamentally "about" different things, so hopefully they can find a compromise that gives them both what they want, or at least most of it. Stardock's claim to the TM seems stronger than the license for sure.

Since the parties and lawyers are reading this even if they can't comment on it...one reasonable settlement provision to address Stardock's concerns with competition might be that Paul and Fred can't talk publicly about Ghosts (or at least have strong limitations on how much they can talk about it) until a period of time after Origins releases , but they can still work on it in private.Then if they do a Kickstarter it can't be too close to a Stardock SC expansion, and Ghosts can't ultimately release too close to an expansion either. Maybe there's a problem with this or maybe it's already being considered, but just an idea I had.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Deus Siddis on April 01, 2018, 08:16:58 pm
Based on Paul's Sep 16, 2013 email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/dd82f909-49ef-4a81-a160-a9664274ff18.png), I have to agree with P&F that this was misleading.  While the first half of Paul's email does indicate that Activision wouldn't allow it, the second half states unequivocally that "Fred and I are just not comfortable handing over our world to be developed by others."  Full stop.  So it was misleading to tell the interviewer that the "main issue" was Activision, when Paul had already made it clear that he and Fred would not be giving permission in any case.

I do not think that one in particular is all that unclear. It is basically implying that if Activision would allow them to work with Stardock on a separate project, they might very well do so. But Activision won't allow them to work outside of Toys for Bob at that point in time. That is the situation the first half is speaking to. The second half is saying that they would not want anyone else to work with their material in their absence. So you have to hold on and wait for them to maybe get the Skylanders franchise to a certain point and arm wrestle Activision into an employment contract that allows greater independence... or you can avoid using their IP altogether.

Since the parties and lawyers are reading this even if they can't comment on it...one reasonable settlement provision to address Stardock's concerns with competition might be that Paul and Fred can't talk publicly about Ghosts (or at least have strong limitations on how much they can talk about it) until a period of time after Origins releases , though they can still work on it in private.Then if they do a Kickstarter it can't be too close to a Stardock SC expansion, and Ghosts can't ultimately release too close to an expansion either. Maybe there's a problem with this or maybe it's already being considered, but just an idea I had.

The problem might be on the practical side rather than the legal. Development tends to slide and miss deadlines. So the more you try to interlace the timing of releases and announcements for all these separate products, and legally codify that interlacing, the more trouble you will have when the nature of software development strikes.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 01, 2018, 09:54:31 pm
Again thanks Frogboy for your continued interaction with us, here.

Thanks to Elestan, I share your curiosity regarding reasoning of non-termination of the 1988 agreement, and the rule 403 question....
I also find the e-mails not convincing regardin "lying"....
Neither side handled the interactions well, and the GotP announcement was, if FF and PR3 knew of your intended "live fleet battle" publication, unfair.
Up to that point, my impression is of Stardock being polite, but pushy towards getting the IP and/or something they can use to attach Origins to the original stories. And FF and PR3 being polite, but blocking.

By contrast, they did something that did tangible harm to us in the form of confused consumers, marketing dilution, etc.  They completely took the wind out of our Star Control: Fleet battles announcement because suddenly the press believed there was a second new Star Control game coming. How much in sales will they have cost us due to the lost marketing time, the confusion by fans, having to compete with a vaporous product that uses our own brand to compete with us?  Pick a percent.  We'll have spend just over $9 million on this game by the time it's released.  We expect it to make multiples on that.  Go ahead and pick your own best-guess (we will have both our own analysis and expert witnesses that will do that as well).  And that is all before their public attacks on us designed to maximize damage to our reputation and good will.

[...]

One final note: Incidentally, in order to make it crystal clear that protecting our IP is our concern not the right to sell 25 year old DOS games, Stardock will be asking its distributors to remove the DOS games by April 4.  
Question, as you keep hammering on the sales damage the GotP announcement may have done to you:
How many copies have you sold of Origins by bundling with the old games? For which you may (or not) have had a license?
Through which bundling you have associated your game with the story, lore, copyright and goodwill of the old games?

And why stop the sales only after the weekend? - Likely some time-limit requirements.... But still...

edit:
sorry, do not answer that, you've been asked to stop sharing mformation with us.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Mormont on April 01, 2018, 11:39:55 pm
The problem might be on the practical side rather than the legal. Development tends to slide and miss deadlines. So the more you try to interlace the timing of releases and announcements for all these separate products, and legally codify that interlacing, the more trouble you will have when the nature of software development strikes.
This came to mind, but it shouldn't be that hard to work around. Like maybe there's a hard expiration on the limitations if Origins is delayed beyond X date, for example. Of course I'm not a lawyer or an expert on settlement negotiations, so my idea should probably be taken with a grain of salt. But I thought little or no public talk about Ghosts for awhile could maybe make Stardock happy while not being an excessive burden on Fred and Paul, since it is early in development anyway.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on April 02, 2018, 01:45:00 am
Also, if the distribution deal expired on bankruptcy, it wouldn't make sense for Atari to send an email. Atari would have been no more.
Uh. What? Bankruptcy isn't the end of a company. Or am I misinterpreting what you said here?

You're right that this is an oversimplification. All I mean to say is that the re-organization is so dramatic that all of the employees (or most) are gone, and any liabilities from before the bankruptcy no longer matter. So even if the feeling is that Atari "swindled" or was negligent in selling assets to Stardock, they are pretty much off the hook.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: chapel on April 02, 2018, 06:21:17 pm
Quote from: Brad Wardell
Over the past 4 years, we have communicated regarding the progress of Star Control: Origins. He asked us not to try to make a sequel to Star Control 2 and said that he hoped one day to be able to return to the universe he and Fred Ford created.

Recently, Paul told me the good news: Activision was going to let him do a true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/) (i.e. Star Control III is not canon for that universe).

Likewise, no one forced Stardock to match P&F's announcement about their own Star Control sequel by also calling it a Star Control sequel, let alone a "true" sequel.

It doesn't make sense if the primary concern is to supposedly protect IP. It would be incredibly boneheaded to basically cede your Trademark to someone else's product if your primary goal was to protect your Trademark. Even if you only made that mistake for a few weeks.

But this makes way more sense if Stardock's primary concern is to associate SC:O with Paul and Fred.

At the end of the day, the law is what it is, and lawyers can only argue what people are legally entitled to do. But Stardock seems far more concerned with P&F's refusal to validate SC:O, and, if anything, treating it with less approval than even Star Control 3.

I knew he once called it a true sequel... perhaps F&P were simply following set precedent by the Trademark owner...


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 02, 2018, 07:01:15 pm
Good point.
Gonna add something:
Greetings!

I have good news!

Our (you guys and us) have had our wishes granted:  Paul and Fred are returning to create a true sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters called Ghosts of the Precursors.

You can read their announcement here: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/

This will be an independent effort outside of Activision (or Stardock) and ignores Star Control 3.


(bolding by me)

Frogboy called it true sequel to Ur-Quan Masters, what GotP will be....
No mention of the trademark Star Control....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on April 03, 2018, 05:44:21 am
Good point.
Gonna add something:
Greetings!

I have good news!

Our (you guys and us) have had our wishes granted:  Paul and Fred are returning to create a true sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters called Ghosts of the Precursors.

You can read their announcement here: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/

This will be an independent effort outside of Activision (or Stardock) and ignores Star Control 3.


(bolding by me)

Frogboy called it true sequel to Ur-Quan Masters, what GotP will be....
No mention of the trademark Star Control....
He edited out "Star Control 2" from his post once lawyers got involved. I have no screenshots, but several sites still have the original quote in question to this day (from the top of my head - Kotaku).

Later, he edited out " The Ur-Quan Masters" and replaced it with "the Ur-Quan story" when Stardock filed trademarks for "The Ur-Quan Masters".

I wouldn't be surprised if he edited out "Ur-Quan" now that Stardock has filed for trademarks for all the SC1-2 aliens. So yeah, bummer.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 03, 2018, 06:47:24 am
The original post (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=6968.msg75846#msg75846) has no "last edit" mark....


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on April 03, 2018, 09:53:22 am
The original post (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=6968.msg75846#msg75846) has no "last edit" mark....

Oops. I was talking about Brad's GotP thread in the Stardock forums. My bad.

Also:
https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/89ai8i/interesting_tweet_from_our_scaley_friend_about/?utm_source=reddit-android


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 03, 2018, 12:46:43 pm
Interesting find. Thank you for linking.
But that still happened AFTER the original GotP announcement by FF and PR3...
So he was uncarefully following their example, and may have not yet recognised the issue at hand when he tweeted.

And in tweets everyone takes shortcuts.... As shown by the highest boss of the judges of the judiciary system where this will be judged.


BTW, the Venturebeat article (https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/09/star-control-ii-developers-working-on-direct-sequel-25-years-later/) linked in the reddit post.... It talks about "resurrecting the series" by FF and PR3, and later also refers to "the rights for the Star Control series have passed from one company to another until [...] Stardock acquired them in 2013."
Not a single word about Stardock being in development of a new game and actively resurrecting the series....
This article is another prime example how this whole PR blew past Stardock.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on April 04, 2018, 12:41:12 am
You can try to minimize the Star Control trademark as a game that hasn't been around for 25 years. It probably sold between 100k and 200k copies.

Just for comparison, the Battlestar Gallactica remake was 25 years after the fact. It was before my time, cancelled after two seasons, and zero relevance to me. But when you have a write-in campaign to create a third season, those fans are out there, and lead to a deeply passionate wave of excitement around the remake. Much of that excitement is among people who went on to work on film and television set in space, including stuff that was relevant to me.

Star Control consistently shows up "best of all time" lists, even to this day. It remains a favorite of game journalists and devs.

The community is still pretty active. And it came long at a pivotal time in game history, where many of those kids went on to become today's devs, artists, journalists, publishers...

Star Control is your favorite game's designer's favorite game.

Resurrecting the franchise is worth more than a few fans. You're talking about super fans who will donate anything -- time, efforts, ideas, word of mouth, over paying -- to make the game a reality.

Stardock really did get their money's worth by buying the Trademark. But they couldn't get all of that with the name alone, especially considering the disappointment that was Star Control 3.

They scoured every Star Control community and invoked Paul and Fred's names with nearly every announcement. When Paul and Fred announced their game, even Stardock called it a true sequel (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/).

It's nothing to be ashamed of. Any game developer would be lucky to be associated with something so influential and beloved.

Where it backfires is when you sue them. That's even before you talk about the whole "creators" fiasco or trying to sell the old games. When you try to pull in fans from their legacy, it's a huge backfire to start attacking their legacy.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 01:52:10 am
For someone who has been apart of the community ifor a month you seem pretty invested in this controversy, Rose.

It is unfortunate that Paul and Fred rejected a path of coexistence. There is only one Star Control sequel and that is Star Control:Origins. Any other game that wants to be associated with Star Control requires our permission. Permission we were willing to grant at one time. 


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on April 04, 2018, 03:18:42 am
Frogboy, I know that being under constant criticism can't be easy. But you'd be well advised to learn from some of the more level-headed critics, and not just by editing posts and announcements. You can't go around calling the entire Star Control open reddit lunatics. You can't look at every lurker-turned-poster as having an axe to grind. You can't go around fighting every commenter on the internet and then get mad that Paul and Fred have countered by publishing evidence.

I mean, you can. But don't be surprised if it seems like you're just trying to evade responsibility for things you've said and done over the past few months.


Title: Minor insight
Post by: Elestan on April 04, 2018, 07:53:49 am
So, I was just re-reading the much-disputed 1988 Agreement section 2.2. and I do notice one thing:  It does not say that the Royalties used for the termination calculation are limited to those generated under this agreement.  So I'd say there is a reasonable argument that Royalties under the GoG agreement could count toward keeping the 1988 agreement live.  However, that still doesn't explain how the agreement would live through the long gap where no Royalties were paid, or the other termination conditions.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 04, 2018, 09:18:58 am
I also read that the GoG agreement could be used to count towards the required limit. If the original licensing contract was still valid.
But as the license has terminated, it does not matter.
The GoG agreement is, IMHO, therefore an independent contract, as there is no other license agreement in force.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Soul Reaver on April 04, 2018, 02:52:59 pm
For someone who has been apart of the community ifor a month you seem pretty invested in this controversy, Rose.

I've seen this argument from you a few times.  Just because someone's account is new doesn't mean that person's opinions are automatically invalidated or wrong.  You can pick on the fact that he sounds like he's speaking objectively about the community when he's actually just expressing an opinion on what he THINKS the community feels, but his regdate doesn't come into it (and I'd think in the medium that this was written it should be quite clear to most readers that it's an opinion).

With that said: at present I personally also feel that the lawsuit you are pursuing and the details I can see of it in its legalese (yes, I read the court documents I've seen linked in this thread) are doing more harm to Stardocks reputation in my eyes than any of F&Ps announcement about Ghosts of the Precursors.  In case it helps make it more authoritative, I've been a forum member since 2005,  have been actively contributing significant time and effort to modding The Ur-Quan Masters and used to play Star Control 1 as a wee lad  with my older brother on a DOS computer.

I've said before that a mutually agreeable solution would be best.  I'd like to see a world where both games can coexist and succeed on their own respective merits.  The feelings of betrayal and/or anger on anyone's side - regardless if justified or not - aren't helping that one bit.  Please put yourself in each other's shoes, try to understand where both sides are coming from, and find something that works (F&P, this goes for you too if you're reading this).


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 04:25:00 pm
Someone who recently joins a community, any community and only focuses on one topic and every post is designed to twist the facts as much as possible in order to create a misleading narrative, then I think it's fair to suggest their motives are suspect.

By contrast, even-handed criticism by someone like Soul Reaver, who has been here for many years and contributed in many different ways is going to be taken more seriously.

I post on these topics because I was already part of these communities, including Reddit where I was a moderator for a long time on the Star Control sub until I could not in good conscience be a moderator with an obvious conflict of interest.

The only reason this dispute is public at all is because Paul and Fred chose to make it public.  That was their choice.  You can rationalize all you want to justify why they did what they did but it doesn't change the fact that their strategy from day 1 has been to try to get what they want via public pressure.  And there are consequences for pursuing that strategy for both sides.   


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 04, 2018, 04:57:34 pm
Someone who recently joins a community, any community and only focuses on one topic and every post is designed to twist the facts as much as possible in order to create a misleading narrative, then I think it's fair to suggest their motives are suspect.
Nope, especially in a community as split as the SC2-fan community, which is split over two boards (PoNaF, and UQM).
And neither board has been very active for several years.
(The last time I was active before the current situation on PoNaF was before they moved to star-control.com in Dec. 2009. Then I re-registered in Jan. 2017 again.)

Plenty of users here, myself included, had to recreate accounts, partly even multiple times, after years of non-activity in either community.
And some users have only been active in ony community, yet I consider them both equally important elements of the community.

You may question this timing, but as said before, this is not a valid argument against that users argumentation.
The timins also happens due the whole thing blowing up now.
This creates noise, which attracts people, also old-times, to come back and start participating again.

edit:
note, tehre are several "rose" users registered:
http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?action=mlist;sort=realName;start=2010 (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?action=mlist;sort=realName;start=2010)
rose Maxson, rose366, rosepatel.

Would you remember your username after 5 years, especially if you've changed your standard username in the meantime?

(BTW, Frogboy is a well chosen one. Rare enough to be able to have the same nick on most boards, and yet recognisable and memorisable)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 04, 2018, 05:19:45 pm
@tingkagol: wanna add something to our discussion on the previous page:
I just stumbled over a quote of the "original" Starcontrol.com post I did a while ago:
[...]

Also, the StarDock (brand owner of "Star Control") reply:
Quote from: StarDock forum news (https://forums.stardock.net/48537Cool
Ghosts of the Precursors
October 9, 2017 7:15:47 PMfrom Star Control ForumsStar Control Forums

Four years ago Stardock acquired Atari's rights to Star Control.  I soon got to meet my hero, Paul Reiche.  He was, more than anyone else, the person who inspired me to become a game developer over 20 years ago.

Over the past 4 years, we have communicated regarding the progress of Star Control: Origins.  He asked us not to try to make a sequel to Star Control 2 and said that he hoped one day to be able to return to the universe he and Fred Ford created.

Recently, Paul told me the good news: Activision was going to let him do a true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (i.e. Star Control III is not canon for that universe).  

Today, they posted the news publicly:  https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/

It's still very early but they will have all the characters from Star Control 2 plus new ones.  It's going to be called Ghosts of the Precursors.

For 4 years, people asked me why we weren't going to touch the Star Control 2 story.  Now you know.

As soon as they have an official site for it, we'll let you know.
(bolding by me)

As you can see, he's paraphrasing Paul Reiche here, so it may not have been his own formulation.
Yes, his post uses those words, but in a weakened way to use the attack line you want to use.....

I, personally, wouldn't find that sufficiently strong enough to weaken Stardocks' position considerably.
That'll be up to the judge and jury to balance.

edit: cleaned up the post a bit.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 05:36:08 pm
Someone who recently joins a community, any community and only focuses on one topic and every post is designed to twist the facts as much as possible in order to create a misleading narrative, then I think it's fair to suggest their motives are suspect.
Nope, especially in a community as split as the SC2-fan community, which is split over two boards (PoNaF, and UQM).
And neither board has been very active for several years.
(The last time I was active before the current situation on PoNaF was before they moved to star-control.com in Dec. 2009. Then I re-registered in Jan. 2017 again.)

Plenty of users here, myself included, had to recreate accounts, partly even multiple times, after years of non-activity in either community.
And some users have only been active in ony community, yet I consider them both equally important elements of the community.

You may question this timing, but as said before, this is not a valid argument against that users argumentation.
The timins also happens due the whole thing blowing up now.
This creates noise, which attracts people, also old-times, to come back and start participating again.

edit:
note, tehre are several "rose" users registered:
http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?action=mlist;sort=realName;start=2010 (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?action=mlist;sort=realName;start=2010)
rose Maxson, rose366, rosepatel.

Would you remember your username after 5 years, especially if you've changed your standard username in the meantime?

(BTW, Frogboy is a well chosen one. Rare enough to be able to have the same nick on most boards, and yet recognisable and memorisable)

Yea I usually use "Draginol". 

Having come from the BBS worlds and then to Usenet, we used to call suspicious people "fake users".  That isn't to say that RosePatel is a fake user.  There's no way to know.  I tend to be suspicious of anyone who enters a community and every comment is essentially poison.  Let us recall the very first post in this thread after all.

I'd rather no one feel like they have to take any side.  As you quoted earlier, I was pretty excited about Ghosts. 



Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on April 04, 2018, 05:43:06 pm
As much as possible, I'm referring to peoples' own words and conduct, linking to sources for anything that might be in dispute. Moreover, I haven't said anything that other fans haven't already said, and where others have made personal attacks, I have not. I will even qualify things that I've said, particularly around how much of the community has sided against Stardock. I'm not saying you've lost the entire community. But in real time, I've seen open forums go from "both sides are being messy and petty" to "Stardock has been disproportionately stubborn and misleading". And I try to keep it to descriptors like "misleading" or "suspicious" or "confusing", only because I'm trying to assume good faith that eventually an explanation for Stardock's factual consistencies will come.

Speaking of twisting facts, it's absurd to say that the other side made this public as if you weren't at a bare minimum complicit. You're literally posting on every forum -- this forum, your forum, reddit, a new reddit you created, twitter, YouTube, news articles, interviews, random game forums.

Moreover, lawsuits are public, and many fans dug up and highlighted sections in the claims. You do have the proverbial right to remain silent. You chose to exercise your right to respond, which is a reasonable choice to make, but again, the absurd part is denying that it was your choice.

You made longform posts to downplay P&F's contributions at the same time that your lawyers were drafting up arguments that "any authorship that Reiche and Ford may have contributed to the Classic Star Control Games was limited (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385277-Stardock-Legal-Complaint-2635-000-P-2017-12-08-1.html)". You had requests from them through November to stop selling their copyrighted games, and in December your public response was that you're not going to use their IP.

If you honestly didn't want it to be public, you shouldn't have said anything at all, let alone something that the community could easily fact-check.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Death 999 on April 04, 2018, 06:33:00 pm
I tend to be suspicious of anyone who enters a community and every comment is essentially poison.

When that happens, I'll do something about it.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 07:52:43 pm
As much as possible, I'm referring to peoples' own words and conduct, linking to sources for anything that might be in dispute. Moreover, I haven't said anything that other fans haven't already said, and where others have made personal attacks, I have not. I will even qualify things that I've said, particularly around how much of the community has sided against Stardock. I'm not saying you've lost the entire community. But in real time, I've seen open forums go from "both sides are being messy and petty" to "Stardock has been disproportionately stubborn and misleading". And I try to keep it to descriptors like "misleading" or "suspicious" or "confusing", only because I'm trying to assume good faith that eventually an explanation for Stardock's factual consistencies will come.

Speaking of twisting facts, it's absurd to say that the other side made this public as if you weren't at a bare minimum complicit. You're literally posting on every forum -- this forum, your forum, reddit, a new reddit you created, twitter, YouTube, news articles, interviews, random game forums.

Moreover, lawsuits are public, and many fans dug up and highlighted sections in the claims. You do have the proverbial right to remain silent. You chose to exercise your right to respond, which is a reasonable choice to make, but again, the absurd part is denying that it was your choice.

You made longform posts to downplay P&F's contributions at the same time that your lawyers were drafting up arguments that "any authorship that Reiche and Ford may have contributed to the Classic Star Control Games was limited (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4385277-Stardock-Legal-Complaint-2635-000-P-2017-12-08-1.html)". You had requests from them through November to stop selling their copyrighted games, and in December your public response was that you're not going to use their IP.

If you honestly didn't want it to be public, you shouldn't have said anything at all, let alone something that the community could easily fact-check.

In essence your argument is "both the mugger and the muggee" are at fault then.   Or worse, the muggee had it coming, especially since they aggressively fought back and said things that hurt the ego of Paul and Fred.

Let's not forget, Paul and Fred hired a Crisis PR firm and made a press releases (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creators-of-popular-star-control-computer-games-fight-back-against-copyright-theft-by-stardock-systems-and-ceo-brad-wardell-300603075.html) calling us thieves.

But according to you, I should just stay quiet in the communities I had been active in for years while people abuse me and my colleagues when we'd done nothing to justify the vitriol at us.

Remember, Paul and Fred were publicly attacking us well before the lawsuit.  

Quote
If you honestly didn't want it to be public, you shouldn't have said anything at all, let alone something that the community could easily fact-check.

There are two problems here: First, it was public because Paul and Fred made it public.   Second, you keep trying to argue, without any evidence, that somehow I've been dishonest or misleading.  I'm the one who was part of these communities already.  The abusive people came to me. Not vice versa.  

For example, you keep harping on the fact that when Ghosts was first announced that I repeated their announcement as if this has some sort of meaning or the fact that we edited the language at roughly the same time Paul and Fred edited the language on their own site as somehow being bad on our part.    

The minute they announced their game as a sequel to Star Control that was a big problem.  It was a problem that we thought was manageable.  Rather than have some sort of public dispute we tried to mitigate the damage by publicly supporting their announcement and see if we could work out something.  Clearly that failed.  Once they made their announcement the proverbial cat was out of the bag.

There are so many ways this whole thing could have been handled that would have resulted in not just a win-win but everyone having a blast working together.

You keep pretending that Stardock was somehow the aggressor here.  How many months of public attacks and DMCA nonsense would Stardock need to absorb before you'd acknowledge that Paul and Fred instigated this?  Should we have waited until they filed a DMCA against Star Control: Origins because they think the ship designer violates their rights? Of course not.  You'd be the first to argue that we had it coming.  

Let's say for the sake of argument that the 1988 agreement has expired.  Now, obviously, that isn't Stardock's position but given that we weren't using the characters or any other IP related to the 1988 agreement and that Stardock had no plans on using those characters in the future then what would have been a reasonable way for Paul and Fred to make up for flagrantly violating our trademark and calling their game an actual "true" sequel to Star Control?

*I* can't discuss what a reasonable settlement in November 2017 would have been now.  But you tell me. What would have been fair.  What would be a reasonable way for compensating us for the wreck they made of our long-awaited Fleet Battles beta roll-out that, as others have pointed out, got hijacked by "true Star Control sequel" talk in the media.

I can tell you what isn't a good way of handling it: Publicly attacking us because the DOS games were on Steam selling some minuscule number of units that Paul and Fred receive a royalty on and then following up with very public DMCA take-down notices on Steam and GOG even of the game they didn't work on.

But seriously, are you even capable of recognizing that they've done harm? How would you have handled this in October/November 2017?  

Let's set the stage:

  • You and your friends and colleagues have spent the last 4 years working on a new Star Control game.
  • You have been building towards the 25th anniversary, including emails to Paul and Fred letting them know your plans a year in advance.
  • You've spent, at that point, around $7 million on the game.
  • You have, in your possession, a distribution agreement with GOG for the sale of the game.
  • You have, in your possession, an email with Paul and Fred in which they appear to confirm that the 1988 agreement is still live and only in the past few weeks have they started to insist it has expired on the argument that they haven't received royalty payments (which is meaningless, there are tons of things we've been paid royalties on only to have payments stop because the retail returns exceeded the new sales. I'm still being paid, I just am not getting checks.)
  • And now, 5 days before your big day, after 25 years of inactivity on Star Control related development, Paul and Fred announce a game as the "true" sequel to Star Control with no evidence they've even started to work on it but rather it seems with the intent of stepping on your announcement.
  • And now, your big media push for your long-awaited announcement gets snuffed by confusion that there are now two Star Control games.

It's October 2017 still. So tell me, Rose, what would be your next move?










Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: bum783 on April 04, 2018, 08:20:26 pm
Someone who recently joins a community, any community and only focuses on one topic and every post is designed to twist the facts as much as possible in order to create a misleading narrative, then I think it's fair to suggest their motives are suspect.

You need to be better than this if you want to engage with people on a forum.
There hasn't been much to talk about until recently, so many people like myself who haven't had anything to say are coming out of the woodwork to chime in on the topic that we are interested in. If I were you I would be very careful about accusations like that one. They dont really add to the discussion , BUT they can be very insulting to members, admins, and more importantly for you potential customers. One could argue that your causing damage to your own product with comments like this. Damage that you intend to hold Fred and Paul accountable for.

Honestly I respect your willingness to engage here, BUT I also think continued engagement might end up causing more trouble for you than its worth.  

LOL But what do I know im not Elestan ha ha ha


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 08:38:30 pm
Someone who recently joins a community, any community and only focuses on one topic and every post is designed to twist the facts as much as possible in order to create a misleading narrative, then I think it's fair to suggest their motives are suspect.

You need to be better than this if you want to engage with people on a forum.
There hasn't been much to talk about until recently, so many people like myself who haven't had anything to say are coming out of the woodwork to chime in on the topic that we are interested in. If I were you I would be very careful about accusations like that one. They dont really add to the discussion , BUT they can be very insulting to members, admins, and more importantly for you potential customers. One could argue that your causing damage to your own product with comments like this. Damage that you intend to hold Fred and Paul accountable for.

Honestly I respect your willingness to engage here, BUT I also think continued engagement might end up causing more trouble for you than its worth.  

LOL But what do I know im not Elestan ha ha ha

Heh.  Fair enough.   Just keep in mind, you're talking to someone who voluntarily gave up their reddit moderating powers (insisted on it) because I feel strongly in people not having a conflict of interest.  

I post as myself, even when it's hard.  30 years of being on BBSes/Usenet/Forums have given me a healthy level of skepticism when I see someone show up out of nowhere who seem to focus on a single topic from a single point of view that is, shall we say, beyond casual bias.  Add to that fact that Paul and Fred hired a Crisis PR firm (crisis PR often involves having alt's "shape" social media opinion) and that many of these people showed up after that point and it can be a challenge to find the line between skepticism and paranoia.  

But beyond that, I tend to look dimly on new people who only seem to inject negativity into a community.  In other words, it's not their newness I object to, it's their conduct and affect on the community's culture.

Eventually, this dispute will end one way or the other.  I haven't decided if I will want to stay here or not.  It really depends on what kind of community UQM wants to have I guess.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Krulle on April 04, 2018, 09:07:40 pm
Let's not forget, Paul and Fred hired a Crisis PR firm and made a press releases (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creators-of-popular-star-control-computer-games-fight-back-against-copyright-theft-by-stardock-systems-and-ceo-brad-wardell-300603075.html) calling us thieves.
IMHO, your extensive post which downplays the creation of SC2 by FF and PR3, with some contributions by others, down to project coordinators seems very much like a first step to reason the use of other's creation in an update to your new Star Control engine....
If your reasoning is found to be true, it would make using that content even harder, as any contributor could block your new content then, on basis of copyright theft.
Right now, you have only PR and FF, and the music/art creators. The art creators worked within the confines given by FF and PR3. The text creators worked even in stronger limitations than the art creators. From what I understood, only the music creators were really free to create, and thus have a copyright. (A judge/jury may find differently, because "who am I?".)
But if you desire to use the Orz, and their whackyness is recognisable, then you'd need a license from FF&PR as well as from the writer of the lines of text...
It would make your wish to use those creations even harder and more perilious....


Regarding the community I want: one who is able to discuss, and if necessary
And come to the agreement that opinions differ.
Which is the case here.

And I thank You once again. It is refreshing for someone to stay in a possible hostile environment, and to be able to discuss things with someone who is of a different opinion.
And I won't hold in against you, that you do not reply to all arguments, seeing that the current situation simply is in front of a court, where you will have to answer these arguments as well. And you need to avoid the impression, that your opinion is different than the one that will be stated by your attorney in front of the jury and the judge.
So, we'll be at a bit of a block here.
You cannot/should not discuss the content of the case here, and  some of us will insist, that your continued non-reply to some arguments could be considered as implicit agreement with the case...Which is not the case.


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: bum783 on April 04, 2018, 09:14:13 pm
But beyond that, I tend to look dimly on new people who only seem to inject negativity into a community.  In other words, it's not their newness I object to, it's their conduct and affect on the community's culture.

Eventually, this dispute will end one way or the other.  I haven't decided if I will want to stay here or not.  It really depends on what kind of community UQM wants to have I guess.

If it makes a difference I used to be unfairly critical of you and Origins years ago when it was first announced. As worried as I am about not getting a direct SC2 sequel, Ive also come around on Stardock and Origins. I am excited for your new game. Your just the type of person it takes 4 years to get used to ha ha ha


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: Elestan on April 04, 2018, 10:56:06 pm
LOL But what do I know im not Elestan ha ha ha
Err...thanks, I think?   :)


Title: Re: My take on Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on April 04, 2018, 11:28:18 pm
    But according to you, I should just stay quiet in the communities I had been active in for years while people abuse me and my colleagues when we'd done nothing to justify the vitriol at us.

    That's not what I think at all.

    Yes, there are lots of legal disputes where people say "my lawyers have advised me not to comment" or "I'm not a lawyer so I shouldn't comment."

    Responding in public is another valid way to handle it. Done honestly, it can be absolutely accomplish more than staying silent.

    My issue is 100% about you shirking responsibility for that choice. You have tried to blame everyone else for making this public.

    The communtiy started asking questions because the facts are already public. Legal proceedings are a matter of public record. Suing someone is public. Stardock responding to the community is public. Stardock publishing someone else's copyrighted games is public. Announcing you support their "true sequel" is public. Withdrawing that support is public. If you're gonna be out here fighting every keyboard warrior, that's public.

    Quote
    You keep pretending that Stardock was somehow the aggressor here.

    That's not at all what I'm saying or doing.

    The issue is that you care very much about pushing a narrative about "who was the aggressor". The same as "who made this public". It's a silly effort to cast blame and shirk responsibilty.

    It takes two people to have a dispute. If you blame everyone else, I'm going to correct that description of events. When fans try to correct the timeline of how this escalated, they aren't automatically blaming you as an aggressor. It simply means they are recognizing a two-way disagreement. The last recourse for people who can't agree -- which is evident you guys can't -- is the legal system. It's fine. Just stop trying to blame everyone else.

    "It's not my fault for disagreeing with them, it's their fault for disagreeing with me!" It's ridiculous.

    Quote
    For example, you keep harping on the fact that when Ghosts was first announced that I repeated their announcement as if this has some sort of meaning or the fact that we edited the language at roughly the same time Paul and Fred edited the language on their own site as somehow being bad on our part.

    Again, not what I said.

    Stardock calling it a "true sequel" doesn't meant that Stardock is bad. It shows that at one time, calling GOTP a true sequel was fine in everyone's eyes, including Stardock's. So was referring to P&F as "the creators of Star Control 2". They'd been doing it on this community for years. Atari didn't care. Stardock didn't care, and even encouraged it. Journalists repeated it because it was obviously true. None of this has ever been disputed until a few months ago. It had been accepted as true for decades.

    There was a moment when you began to care. To be clear, it wasn't when P&F said it was a "true sequel", let alone when Stardock repeated P&F's phrasing. In that window of time, Stardock began selling the DOS games on Steam, had a private disagreement with P&F about selling those games, and received a Copyright takedown notice. Your lawsuit about the Trademark happened in December, at the same time Stardock filed a Copyright counter notice to make sure the games kept being sold on Steam. Then Stardock doubled down by selling the Copyrighted games on GOG.

    Their alleged Trademark infringement overlaps heavily with Stardock's alleged Copyright infringement. The lawsuit (and change in stance towards their sequel) comes nearly two months later.

    That's the timeline, in fact.

    Quote
    You'd be the first to argue that we had it coming.  

    I am not taking the position that "Stardock deserves all the bad things". I've made this distinction very clear.

    • Starting a lawsuit in the public court, and making public announcements is reasonable. Blaming everyone else for making this public is damaging your reputation.
    • Suing for Trademark infringement is reasonable. Selling someone else's Copyrighted games is damaging your reputation.
    • Saying you want a peaceful agreement with both SC:O and GOTP is reasonable. Doing that while registering 20+ Trademarks in the classic games is damaging your reputation.
    • Saying you are willing to be quite cooperative is reasonable. Doing that while asking that they assign all IP to you is damaging your reputation.

    For those four bullet points, it's fine to do the first part OR the second part. Doing both at the same time is damaging your reputation.

    Quote
    So tell me, Rose, what would be your next move?

    I also find a lot of the coulda shoulda woulda stuff to be pointless. I'll indulge because you asked, keeping in mind that I don't know your primary goal (protecting your Trademark? getting P&F's seal of approval on your game? seeing a continuation of the Ur Quan timeline? making the continuation of the Ur Quan timeline myself?)

    For starters, Paul and Fred absolutely should have done a lot of things diffeent. They should have been watching that Trademark like a hawk to challenge it and register it (I've done the same thing when buying domain names). They should have bought it from Atari at bankruptcy, or from you when you offered, considering the expense of a lawsuit (even potentially). I think their announcements that mix in a lot of feelings and jokes is probably not helpful to their cause, even though that's how those two ordinarily talk as authors. I think their PR team has been sloppy, and less effective than publishing the evidence and allowing fans to draw their own conclusions. Yes, I would have picked up the phone, if not tried to schedule a confidential settlement negotiation.

    As for you. If your stand-alone game doesn't need the reputation of a 25 year old franchise, you should have just made a stand-alone game by another name. Or if you wanted the name without the universe, you should have called it "Star Control" and avoided any kind of multiverse conceit. If people asked you about Paul and Fred, you should have just said they're not involved, period. If the old games didn't matter, you shouldn't have bothered selling them, let alone bundling them with your new game. You especially shouldn't done that sale if things were escalating legally, let alone that you were thinking about suing them for Trademark infringement. And if you had that inkling of a Trademark issue, you might have consulted a lawyer instead of jumping in with an announcement promoting their "true sequel" on the same day. You probably should have discussed the ship creator and modding well in advance -- that's a really tricky one, but you can only try. And if it was clear that lawyers had to get involved, you should have talked to your lawyers and community moderator to make sure there's 100% consistency between your position in the lawsuit, on public forums, and in private discussions. Also, if I wanted to still settle, I would have sent something different from Stardock's latest offer (P&F assign all IP to Stardock, don't make a game in the genre for 5 years). I would have hired different lawyers, or at least given them different instructions other than going straight to litigation. And if my attitude really had become scorched earth, I wouldn't be out there in public playing the "oh, I really wish we could peacefully settle this" card, let alone the victim card.

    Shoulda woulda coulda. Hindsight is 20/20 and I think it's a futile discussion. But hey, you asked.[/list]


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 04, 2018, 11:37:04 pm
    Let's not forget, Paul and Fred hired a Crisis PR firm and made a press releases (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creators-of-popular-star-control-computer-games-fight-back-against-copyright-theft-by-stardock-systems-and-ceo-brad-wardell-300603075.html) calling us thieves.
    IMHO, your extensive post which downplays the creation of SC2 by FF and PR3, with some contributions by others, down to project coordinators seems very much like a first step to reason the use of other's creation in an update to your new Star Control engine....
    If your reasoning is found to be true, it would make using that content even harder, as any contributor could block your new content then, on basis of copyright theft.
    Right now, you have only PR and FF, and the music/art creators. The art creators worked within the confines given by FF and PR3. The text creators worked even in stronger limitations than the art creators. From what I understood, only the music creators were really free to create, and thus have a copyright. (A judge/jury may find differently, because "who am I?".)
    But if you desire to use the Orz, and their whackyness is recognisable, then you'd need a license from FF&PR as well as from the writer of the lines of text...
    It would make your wish to use those creations even harder and more perilious....


    Regarding the community I want: one who is able to discuss, and if necessary
    And come to the agreement that opinions differ.
    Which is the case here.

    And I thank You once again. It is refreshing for someone to stay in a possible hostile environment, and to be able to discuss things with someone who is of a different opinion.
    And I won't hold in against you, that you do not reply to all arguments, seeing that the current situation simply is in front of a court, where you will have to answer these arguments as well. And you need to avoid the impression, that your opinion is different than the one that will be stated by your attorney in front of the jury and the judge.
    So, we'll be at a bit of a block here.
    You cannot/should not discuss the content of the case here, and  some of us will insist, that your continued non-reply to some arguments could be considered as implicit agreement with the case...Which is not the case.

    In terms of copyright, this is something I think I've talked about a lot before even before things got messy. 

    For example, take the Orz as expressed in Star Control II.  You couldn't create a derivative work of them without permission of the copyright holder (whomever that is).   

    It is my opinion that Fred wrote all (or nearly all) of the DOS based code in SC2.  I don't know that as a fact but I seem to recall Fred saying that.
    And Greg Johnson has talked about the tremendous amount of work Paul did on story writing and game design.
    But much of the writing, nearly all of the art, music, etc. was done by others.

    SCO doesn't use anything from SC2 other than musical scores which were created (note the use of the word created here) by Riku.  Riku is the lead composer on Star Control: Origins.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 04, 2018, 11:52:26 pm
    ...what would be your next move?

    If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by one or both parties about what, legally, they were allowed and not allowed to do.

    I would have cordially (perferably by phone, if that was possible) called up P&F directly, and I would have said this:
    "Guys, I'm starting to think we both have different ideas, legally, about what we are and aren't allowed to do with our games - which parts of the IP we own and which ones we need each other's agreement to utilize.  I'd really like both of us to be able to make our games in peace.  Can we please work together and get in an impartial IP/contract lawyer in to give us both a 100% crystal clear idea of who owns what so that nobody oversteps their bounds?"

    The constant assigning of blame is all irrelevant.  It doesn't matter "who started it".  Only the facts matter.  And you can't go anywhere until you know who owns what and who needs whose permission to publish what (including announcements about "true sequels" etc, as self-evident as that may seem to you).  That way you'll also know if you'll be able to just rebut any criticisms from F&P on calling Fleet Battles "Super Melee" or them complaining about the UI by saying "sorry guys, we both established you don't own this part of it".

    The court cases that are currently in progress may well answer the above questions, but they do so in an agressive, oppositional way rather than in a cooperative, amicable one.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 05, 2018, 12:34:56 am
    ...what would be your next move?

    If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by one or both parties about what, legally, they were allowed and not allowed to do.

    I would have cordially (perferably by phone, if that was possible) called up P&F directly, and I would have said this:
    "Guys, I'm starting to think we both have different ideas, legally, about what we are and aren't allowed to do with our games - which parts of the IP we own and which ones we need each other's agreement to utilize.  I'd really like both of us to be able to make our games in peace.  Can we please work together and get in an impartial IP/contract lawyer in to give us both a 100% crystal clear idea of who owns what so that nobody oversteps their bounds?"


    So something like this maybe?

    (https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Snagit/media/c78967d1-99f5-428b-8882-55a3e162ed5d/04.04.2018-18.34.png)

    Sort of, hey, we have the trademark, you have the copyright, let's be very careful to understand what we can and can't do?

    As for Rose:
    Quote
    It takes two people to have a dispute.

    Yes, sort of like it takes two to have a mugging.

    Quote
    "It's not my fault for disagreeing with them, it's their fault for disagreeing with me!" It's ridiculous.

    No one is saying that.  It is their fault for taking their disagreement to the public rather than talking to us.

    Quote
    There was a moment when you began to care. To be clear, it wasn't when P&F said it was a "true sequel", let alone when Stardock repeated P&F's phrasing.

    No. We really cared immediately.  We thought they made a big mistake and that we'd be able to paper it over in some reasonable way.

    The games had already been for sale on GOG for years.  You do understand that right? They were on GOG before us.  Adding them to Steam was not considered to be a big deal and had been planned years in advance.  Paul and Fred have already sent a subpoena to Valve so they will soon discover that yes, the games had been uploaded to Steam literally years before and waited until the big 25th anniversary announcement to go live.

    If Stardock were looking to do a tit-for-tat, it wouldn't have updated the Super-Melee beta to be Fleet Battles and it would have added classic ships to it.   As Paul and Fred are learning via discovery, I wasn't even involved in the putting the games on Steam, it had been planned long in advance on the understanding that Stardock had the right to distribute the games. They were already on GOG.

    Quote
    As for you. If your stand-alone game doesn't need the reputation of a 25 year old franchise, you should have just made a stand-alone game by another name. Or if you wanted the name without the universe, you should have called it "Star Control" and avoided any kind of multiverse conceit. If people asked you about Paul and Fred, you should have just said they're not involved, period. If the old games didn't matter, you shouldn't have bothered selling them, let alone bundling them with your new game. You especially shouldn't done that sale if things were escalating legally, let alone that you were thinking about suing them for Trademark infringement. And if you had that inkling of a Trademark issue, you might have consulted a lawyer instead of jumping in with an announcement promoting their "true sequel" on the same day. You probably should have discussed the ship creator and modding well in advance -- that's a really tricky one, but you can only try. And if it was clear that lawyers had to get involved, you should have talked to your lawyers and community moderator to make sure there's 100% consistency between your position in the lawsuit, on public forums, and in private discussions. Also, if I wanted to still settle, I would have sent something different from Stardock's latest offer (P&F assign all IP to Stardock, don't make a game in the genre for 5 years). I would have hired different lawyers, or at least given them different instructions other than going straight to litigation. And if my attitude really had become scorched earth, I wouldn't be out there in public playing the "oh, I really wish we could peacefully settle this" card, let alone the victim card.

    So...it's our fault for buying the Star Control trademark and really, we had it coming when Paul and Fred decided to launch their attacks because the DOS games were on Steam even though they'd been on GOG.  Oh and you think we really should have gotten their blessing before having a ship designer in our game because..reasons.

    My question was what would you have done in October/November 2017.  In October 2017, I assumed they weren't nuts.  We never would have thought that this would become a lawsuit.  They had flagrantly violated our trademark by announcing their game as the true sequel.  The smart thing would have been to work out something with us and move forward.  Instead, they doubled down. 

    You obviously haven't read the Q&A. Otherwise you wouldn't be complaining about post-suit escalation that both sides are guilty of.

    https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

    There are unmodified emails in there.

    Hopefully their lawyer has explained to them that if they are found to have willfully violated our trademark, they have to pay our legal expenses in addition to theirs.  Their announcement and post-announcement activities are almost unbelievable. They're the stuff of an IP 101 textbook.  This is why we assumed they would simply work something simple out with us rather than escalating it.  The reason I'm more free to discuss this than they are is because, assuming Steinberg has educated them, they must know at this point that this is potentially ruinous.  And I really don't want to see that happen.  These guys were my heroes.   I have been baffled from day 1 at their actions.





    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 05, 2018, 02:32:59 am
    If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by one or both parties about what, legally, they were allowed and not allowed to do.

    I would have cordially (perferably by phone, if that was possible) called up P&F directly, and I would have said this:
    "Guys, I'm starting to think we both have different ideas, legally, about what we are and aren't allowed to do with our games - which parts of the IP we own and which ones we need each other's agreement to utilize.  I'd really like both of us to be able to make our games in peace.  Can we please work together and get in an impartial IP/contract lawyer in to give us both a 100% crystal clear idea of who owns what so that nobody oversteps their bounds?"

    So something like this maybe?

    (https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Snagit/media/c78967d1-99f5-428b-8882-55a3e162ed5d/04.04.2018-18.34.png)

    Sort of, hey, we have the trademark, you have the copyright, let's be very careful to understand what we can and can't do?

    Sure...but there is a bit of context missing from that email snippit.  Earlier in that email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/0e996554-8c7d-4b65-a171-46e36a10d1f2.png), you had insisted that you owned the exclusive publishing rights, and the questions you said you were interested in discussing related to release timing and announcement, not rights ownership.  So the tone and content of your email does not suggest (to me) that you were open to discussing the possibility that you might not have owned what you claimed to own.

    Paul did respond, albeit via email, and specifically cited section 2.2 of the contract as having terminated it.  Your next email stated that the contract was still valid and enforceable as long as you were paying royalties, then Fred's next reply said that those royalties had stopped long ago, terminating the contract.

    So, I do see a two-way communications failure here; both sides are stating their positions, but neither side is doing a very good job explaining their position to the other.  I do think Fred should have come back one more time, specifically quoting the contract language to explain his position (and if that failed to convince, I would have come back with the bankruptcy language in 7.1, and asked you to explain why that didn't apply).  But Fred explains himself a bit better than you here IMHO, because in his final email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/d0a9f996-e553-48a2-8651-c82b4a8f25b9.png), he points to the relevant area of the contract, and says why it ended, and I can look at the contract and understand where he is coming from.  Your responses to him make it seem like you're not looking at the contract clause at all, because you don't seem to even recognize the possibility that the termination condition might have been met before you bought Atari's IP, even after he directly stated it.  I suspect that that is why he felt there was "little further to discuss".  Again, I disagree with him on that point, but I do recognize why he might have said it.

    Quote
    My question was what would you have done in October/November 2017.  In October 2017, I assumed they weren't nuts.  We never would have thought that this would become a lawsuit.  They had flagrantly violated our trademark by announcing their game as the true sequel.  The smart thing would have been to work out something with us and move forward.  Instead, they doubled down.

    So, at the time of those emails, they hadn't made their announcement yet.  Were there any more emails after that point?  

    In any case, I think my next move in their shoes would have been to get a lawyer, and have the lawyer send you a very clearly worded email with a physical registered mail copy, explaining all the reasons why the 1988 agreement had terminated, and requesting a formal reply with your justification for thinking the agreement was still valid.  I would not have tried to stop you from using 'Super-Melee', though, as I've stated previously.

    Quote
    You obviously haven't read the Q&A. Otherwise you wouldn't be complaining about post-suit escalation that both sides are guilty of.

    I think that hiring the PR firm was a mistake, that probably only hurt them.  But Stardock's trademark filings were certainly an escalation as well, so it wasn't one-sided.  To me, the trademark filings are a much bigger escalation, because they're a permanent thing.  A PR firm's rantings seem ephemeral by comparison.

    Quote
    Hopefully their lawyer has explained to them that if they are found to have willfully violated our trademark, they have to pay our legal expenses in addition to theirs.

    Maybe. The law (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1117) states:
    Quote from: 15 U.S.C. ß 1117(a) (emphasis added)
    The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.

    Willful infringement is a necessary but not by itself sufficient condition.  The case law on what constitutes 'exceptional' does not seem to be entirely settled, thanks to a Supreme Court case a couple years ago that changed the rules.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 05, 2018, 03:19:08 am
    If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by In any case, I think my next move in their shoes would have been to get a lawyer, and have the lawyer send you a very clearly worded email with a physical registered mail copy, explaining all the reasons why the 1988 agreement had terminated, and requesting a formal reply with your justification for thinking the agreement was still valid.  I would not have tried to stop you from using 'Super-Melee', though, as I've stated previously.

    Let's presume, for the sake of argument their lawyer convinced us that the 1988 agreement was no longer valid and Stardock took the games down from Steam.

    Now what?  Stardock, in addition to changing the name Super-Melee to Fleet Battles has abided by their wishes and removed the game from Steam at which point it had probably made maybe $2k. What would have been reasonable to expect in return from Paul and Fred?  Our big beta announcement has been disrupted.  We are having to compete against our own brand.  And remember: They think they have the right to call their game the "true" sequel as well as a direct sequel to Star Control II. That is, as far as I know, their current position.  They don't even want Star Control: Origins to be associated with...Star Control even though we have the trademark.

    So you've spent millions on a new game to relaunch the franchise and a third-party has used your mark to announce their new game, claiming it's the true sequel, taking all the oxygen out of the room. And, as you know, some people have begun to demand refunds because they thought Star Control: Origins was the only sequel being made.  So what's your next move?  It's still October 2017.

    Also, Elestan, seriously, enough with your legal theories. You aren't a lawyer. You have no idea what you're talking about. Have you ever even been in litigation in your entire life? Jesus.  It's like reading a kid who has no idea how to program suggesting how to get graphics on the screen.  




    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 05, 2018, 04:17:16 am
    (Note:  You had some of Soul Reaver's text in your quote of me)

    I think my next move in their shoes would have been to get a lawyer, and have the lawyer send you a very clearly worded email with a physical registered mail copy, explaining all the reasons why the 1988 agreement had terminated, and requesting a formal reply with your justification for thinking the agreement was still valid.  I would not have tried to stop you from using 'Super-Melee', though, as I've stated previously.

    Let's presume, for the sake of argument their lawyer convinced us that the 1988 agreement was no longer valid and Stardock took the games down from Steam.

    Now what?

    If I were in Paul's position, I would have tried very hard to reach that conclusion about the 1988 rights before either of us announced anything.  Then, assuming that we were successful, I would have:

    • Agreed to do our respective announcements simultaneously on the 25th anniversary.
    • Had our respective lawyers work out the bounds of nominative fair use for the use of "Star Control" in the GotP announcement, to make sure that I didn't step over that line.
    • Made it clear that we would respect those limits on the use of the "Star Control" trademark, and would seek a license from Stardock if we wanted to use it any other way.
    • Clearly stated my expectations about what my copyright covered (Ships, alien races, unique names/characters, history, map/setting, plotlines).
    • Suggested (not demanded) that it might be a good idea to let us review SC:O before its release to see if there are any copyright concerns, so that they could be worked out ahead of time.

    (BTW, does anyone know the exact release date for SC2?)

    So, my preferred course of events is to get things cleared up before the announcements.

    Quote
    Also, Elestan, seriously, enough with your legal theories. You aren't a lawyer. You have no idea what you're talking about. Have you ever even been in litigation in your entire life? Jesus.  It's like reading a kid who has no idea how to program suggesting how to get graphics on the screen.
    Sorry; as I've said before, I'm very open to being corrected, and would love to learn from your vast experience.  However, until you're willing to provide constructive criticism that helps me understand what I've gotten wrong, I just can't give your critiques any weight.  Wouldn't it be better to educate me than to keep reading through my incompetent legal ravings?  If you could make me see the legal issues the way you do, I'm sure I'd be a great advocate for your position.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 05, 2018, 04:38:56 am
    If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by In any case, I think my next move in their shoes would have been to get a lawyer, and have the lawyer send you a very clearly worded email with a physical registered mail copy, explaining all the reasons why the 1988 agreement had terminated, and requesting a formal reply with your justification for thinking the agreement was still valid.  I would not have tried to stop you from using 'Super-Melee', though, as I've stated previously.

    Let's presume, for the sake of argument their lawyer convinced us that the 1988 agreement was no longer valid and Stardock took the games down from Steam.

    Now what?  Stardock, in addition to changing the name Super-Melee to Fleet Battles has abided by their wishes and removed the game from Steam at which point it had probably made maybe $2k. What would have been reasonable to expect in return from Paul and Fred?  Our big beta announcement has been disrupted.  We are having to compete against our own brand.  And remember: They think they have the right to call their game the "true" sequel as well as a direct sequel to Star Control II. That is, as far as I know, their current position.  They don't even want Star Control: Origins to be associated with...Star Control even though we have the trademark.

    So you've spent millions on a new game to relaunch the franchise and a third-party has used your mark to announce their new game, claiming it's the true sequel, taking all the oxygen out of the room. And, as you know, some people have begun to demand refunds because they thought Star Control: Origins was the only sequel being made.  So what's your next move?  It's still October 2017.

    Also, Elestan, seriously, enough with your legal theories. You aren't a lawyer. You have no idea what you're talking about. Have you ever even been in litigation in your entire life? Jesus.  It's like reading a kid who has no idea how to program suggesting how to get graphics on the screen.  

    What Elestan has said is very similar to a lot of the things I was about to say about the same topic.

    Reading the email trail carefully I think I have a stronger position than Elestan against F&Ps relative lack of communication/cooperation when it became clear your legal position on the 1988 agreement was very different from theirs.  Their statement of "there is little sense to debate legalities" was counterproductive since that was in fact at the heart of the issue for them (and also you in a way).

    I still believe that F&Ps position regarding much of the IP is correct (specifically, storyline, ship designs and alien-race related stuff), but their lack of information sharing on it mean that you never had the evidence that would have been needed to see that.  Similarly, that lack of information sharing is also to blame for them potentially overstepping their own bounds as well (ie, using the Star Control name in the marketing).

    The request to change things in your game is where I (if I was you) would have employed a lawyer to clarify the agreement (probably one different from the one that seemed to think the 1988 agreement was still valid, because I seriously believe that is a very mistaken interpretation and needs a second opinion).  Then shared those findings with F&P and told them that this was going to be your going interpetation of each team's rights unless their lawyers can find a counter argument (and silence on the matter would be taken as agreement).

    Clarifying that agreement in understandable terms is at the heart of the matter, and is something that should have happened before F&P asked for any IP-related changes or you fired return shots for lost sales/trademark infrigement.

    Everyone would know what they own, what they can do and what they can't, and there won't be any ambiguity or excuses of "but I thought that..." from anyone.

    As it stands, you're making moves on things that most likely (but possibly not) are the legal intellectual property of F&P.  And F&P are making moves on things that are most likely (but possibly not) things that they have no legal right to take action on/with.  And everyone still doesn't know for sure.

    Asking for something 'in return' from F&P may not have been necessary (or wise).  You could instead say "Hold! What you are doing to us is wrong! Why do you do this thing?" while pointing to the (now mutually agreed) position that they can't use the name Star Control in their marketing.

    I do agree that if after all that they continued using the Star Control name, even after both sides have agreed that they aren't allowed to, then the lawyers need to come out.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 05, 2018, 04:42:58 am
    Quote
    It takes two people to have a dispute.

    Yes, sort of like it takes two to have a mugging.

    A more fair analogy would be two neighbors arguing about where a fence should go.

    One side allegedly thinks the fence has encroached on their Trademark property. The other side allegedly thinks the fence has encroached on their Copyright property.

    And to make things more confusing, the court could easily say the fence is poorly set on both sides, at the same time in different locations.

    Quote
    t is their fault for taking their disagreement to the public rather than talking to us.

    This shit again.  ::)

    Again, filing a lawsuit is a public proceeding. Going on multiple internet forums with three different aliases is public. Making announcements on your blog is public, let alone announcements that anyone with an internet connection will ultimately dispute, let alone with evidence. At best, both sides were complicit in making it public, and both sides failed to ratchet that down.

    Quote
    Adding them to Steam was not considered to be a big deal and had been planned years in advance.  Paul and Fred have already sent a subpoena to Valve so they will soon discover that yes, the games had been uploaded to Steam literally years before and waited until the big 25th anniversary announcement to go live.

    The games went live on October 19, 2017. The 25th anniversary announcement was November 16, 2017. That's a month long gap. I'm sure the game data had been on Steam for a long time, and you had planned on selling them eventually. But the timing doesn't reflect what you said.

    Quote
    So...it's our fault for buying the Star Control trademark and really, we had it coming when Paul and Fred decided to launch their attacks because the DOS games were on Steam even though they'd been on GOG.  Oh and you think we really should have gotten their blessing before having a ship designer in our game because..reasons.

    My question was what would you have done in October/November 2017.  In October 2017, I assumed they weren't nuts.  We never would have thought that this would become a lawsuit.  They had flagrantly violated our trademark by announcing their game as the true sequel.  The smart thing would have been to work out something with us and move forward.  Instead, they doubled down.  

    If you read my whole explanation, you'd see there were plenty of opportunities for both sides to avoid a trainwreck. You and Paul and Fred. Yes, some of them would have involved sacrifices. And as I said, I don't know what you're williing to sacrifice, because at this point you tried to get everything -- the Star Control trademark, a new Star Control game that you produce with Paul and Fred's blessing, a true sequel to Star Control you could associate with, a quiet public front where you respond to every drip of information and every commenter, and an aggressive scorched earth legal tactic -- and you can't have all of those things.

    So no, it's not your fault for buying the Star Control Trademark. But it's odd for you to say that you were doing Paul and Fred some kind of favor, and that most fans haven't even heard of it. If that's actually how you feel, then yeah, maybe it wasn't worth buying, and you should have disposed of it.

    Nor is it your fault for not talking through the ship designer issue. But if you have two guys who are literally saying "make sure your game doesn't include our ships", and you have fans saying "first thing I'm gonna do with the ship creator is import the assets to make the old ships", you have a really obvious conundrum on your hands. It takes two people to disagree, which means it takes two people to resolve the dispute. And you can really resolve it in one of two ways. Tell Paul and Fred that you still really care, or tell them to go fly a kite. If I were talking to them, I'd say the same thing -- "hey guys, you realize they're gonna include your ships? You should probably talk about that." Except that nobody outside of Stardock was paying that close attention.

    Quote
    you wouldn't be complaining about post-suit escalation that both sides are guilty of.

    My position in this has always been that two sides made this public, both sides escalated this, and it would have taken both sides to ratchet it back down.

    And no, I'm not complaining about Stardock for escalating it. I'm criticizing Stardock for constantly denying they escalated it.

    Saying "both sides are guilty" is the closest I've seen you come to stop blaming everyone else, and accepting at least partial responsibility.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 05, 2018, 05:03:41 am
    Reading the email trial carefully I think I have a stronger position than Elestan against F&Ps relative lack of communication/cooperation when it became clear your legal position on the 1988 agreement was very different from theirs.  Their statement of "there is little sense to debate legalities" was counterproductive since that was in fact at the heart of the issue for them (and also you in a way).

    Just to note, I agree with this part too, but I'd said it in my earlier post, so I didn't repeat it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 05, 2018, 05:07:52 am
    Reading the email trial carefully I think I have a stronger position than Elestan against F&Ps relative lack of communication/cooperation when it became clear your legal position on the 1988 agreement was very different from theirs.  Their statement of "there is little sense to debate legalities" was counterproductive since that was in fact at the heart of the issue for them (and also you in a way).

    Just to note, I agree with this part too, but I'd said it in my earlier post, so I didn't repeat it.

    I was just saying that personally I think my view on this is more dim than yours.  I see it as a pretty huge mistake on F&Ps part.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 05, 2018, 06:36:49 am
    Did Rose just accuse me of having 3 aliases? Who are these aliasís I have? I have enough trouble just having time to post as myself.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 05, 2018, 06:48:26 am
    Did Rose just accuse me of having 3 aliases? Who are these aliasís I have? I have enough trouble just having time to post as myself.

    I think he thinks you use 3 different names on (at least) 3 different forums.  Which I don't see a problem with since I can't always get/use the username I want on a forum either.

    His statement does seem to be more around the fact that you discuss the whole thing in public (in multiple places) yourself as well, with your own spin on it, so the publicity isn't just an F&P thing.  I personally don't have a problem with people discussing stuff in public, I feel the more people are able to get their side of the story out in a dialogue the more likely it is others will understand them (if not necessarily agree with them).

    EDIT: I kind of wish F&P would show up here and join the discussion as well.  There'd be plenty of things I'd like to ask them too.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 05, 2018, 06:49:43 am
    No need to get defensive (https://littletinyfrogs.com/images/profile.png). Again, it's your right to join as many forums as you want on the internet. It's just silly to blame everyone else for making this public.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 05, 2018, 07:06:45 am
    Iíve not joined any new forums in...well, years.

    Also, only one party made the dispute public. That is a simple, verifiable fact. Your continued insistence that we both made it public makes no sense.  They made it public and I have answered questions or responded on forums Iím already on. 

    Both sides escalated it. Such is the nature of disputes that donít get resolved. 



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 05, 2018, 07:44:19 am
    Also, only one party made the dispute public. That is a simple, verifiable fact. Your continued insistence that we both made it public makes no sense.  They made it public and I have answered questions or responded on forums Iím already on.

    I'll agree with Brad that P&F were the ones to make the dispute public.  At least, I have found no relevant public statements from Stardock prior to P&F's December 1 blog post.  Indeed, some of Stardock's other actions indicate a strong preference to maintain the public perception of harmony with P&F, despite the behind-the-scenes friction. 

    According that blog post, the reason P&F went public was that Stardock was demanding that they needed its permission to release GotP.  Stardock hasn't published emails from November, so we can't see behind the scenes, but it seems plausible that P&F went public primarily because Stardock was still attempting to enforce the 1988 agreement on them.  So in the "Stardock was convinced the 1988 agreement had expired" alternate reality, it could be this whole thing never went public.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 05, 2018, 09:14:24 am
    If two people have a private disagreement, and one side decides to "peacefully" announce their opinion before the private dispute is settled, then the dispute is now public. There's tons of that before December 1st.

    Also, taking public actions on issues that are privately in dispute would also be a very public way to handle a dispute. For example, selling someone else's (allegedly) copyrighted game. Or, yes, announcing a product that (allegedly) infringes Trademark.

    Or making forum posts. Even forums you are already on. Even your forum. Even if your fans are asking about a very apparent contradiction. It's public.

    A lawsuit is also public. People avoid lawsuits often BECAUSE they want to avoid making the dispute public. Once you file a claim against someone, it's public.

    Fans and journalists alike are pouring over those public documents. Fans are posting excerpts on this public forum, and Stardock has chosen to publicly respond.

    Nobody is making them do that. And nobody is blaming them for exercising that right (there's even people who want P&F to jump into this forum). But for sure, some of the things they've said have turned fans against them, particularly how many of their public responses try to promote blame and dodge responsibility.

    If Stardock wants to leave it at "both sides escalate it", I'd be glad they finally came around. That's how most fans see it, or at least I do.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 05, 2018, 10:59:26 am
    (there's even people who want P&F to jump into this forum)
    They're reading this here, and they are also posting. ( http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7124.0 )
    Just not on this topic on this forum.

    Well, this all distracts from what we fans want:
    two new games.
    One in the image of Star Control II; and one continueing the story and solving some mysteries (and likely opening new ones as well).
    (click to show/hide)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: tingkagol on April 05, 2018, 03:05:13 pm
    Quote from: Frogboy
    For example, you keep harping on the fact that when Ghosts was first announced that I repeated their announcement as if this has some sort of meaning or the fact that we edited the language at roughly the same time Paul and Fred edited the language on their own site as somehow being bad on our part.    

    The minute they announced their game as a sequel to Star Control that was a big problem.  It was a problem that we thought was manageable.  Rather than have some sort of public dispute we tried to mitigate the damage by publicly supporting their announcement and see if we could work out something.  Clearly that failed.  Once they made their announcement the proverbial cat was out of the bag.
    This is the answer I was looking for. I could see your reasoning here and actually sympathize with you. But as others have stated, if there was a potential trademark issue, I would've consulted a lawyer first before mirroring their announcement in your own social media channels and forum posts.

    P&F clearly didn't give their best effort to clarify their rights and strive for both parties to arrive at an agreement and we can only make assumptions why. Perhaps they were angered that Stardock doubled down on its claim that the 1988 agreement was still active - in addition to the fact they already dealt with the same issue with Atari and GoG a few years back.

    As for P&F making the dispute public, I thought it was premature. Looking at what has already happened, I could see how Stardock's absurd settlement demands might not have existed had they kept the dispute private. But they're just two individuals against an entire company and probably felt they needed the support of the SC community. This might have panned out differently if Ghosts was a Toys for Bob project.

    If. So many ifs....


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 06, 2018, 12:35:04 am
    Split the amusing digression to Starbase Cafť.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: lostsoul on April 06, 2018, 05:14:42 am
    And remember: They think they have the right to call their game the "true" sequel as well as a direct sequel to Star Control II.
    unless your game is going to reveal the nature of all the mysteries of star control 2 ie androsynth, orz, arilou human tampering, places destroyed on earth by urquan and their significance, mael-um, and last but not least the precursors...your game cannot be a true sequel...and to boot your game lives in a universe outside of whats transpired, and further on top, it suppose to take place before the urquan wars ie "origins". how can you even get mad at them for that?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Ariloulawleelay on April 06, 2018, 03:43:32 pm
    Quote
    Also, Elestan, seriously, enough with your legal theories. You aren't a lawyer. You have no idea what you're talking about. Have you ever even been in litigation in your entire life? Jesus.  It's like reading a kid who has no idea how to program suggesting how to get graphics on the screen.
    Sorry; as I've said before, I'm very open to being corrected, and would love to learn from your vast experience.  However, until you're willing to provide constructive criticism that helps me understand what I've gotten wrong, I just can't give your critiques any weight.  Wouldn't it be better to educate me than to keep reading through my incompetent legal ravings?  If you could make me see the legal issues the way you do, I'm sure I'd be a great advocate for your position.

    Elestan, please forgive that I have registered a new account in order to compose this message. I have no desire to needlessly associate any of my prior postings -- none of which are relevant to the instant topic, fwiw -- with my current irl identity.

    I am a lawyer. You can only imagine how ... gratifying the last few months have been!

    That said, though I do not: (i) completely agree with your analyses, nor (ii) notice your usage of any of the secret cypher words or secretion of the subtle pheromones which would allow me to recognize you as a fellow attorney; I have not found any of "your legal theories" to be too far off of the mark. I know that these matters have been of interest to you for some time -- this attempt to infantilize you was uncalled for. Pay those words no heed.

    Be seeing you...


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 06, 2018, 04:32:33 pm
    Elestan, please forgive that I have registered a new account in order to compose this message. I have no desire to needlessly associate any of my prior postings -- none of which are relevant to the instant topic, fwiw -- with my current irl identity.

    I am a lawyer. You can only imagine how ... gratifying the last few months have been!

    That said, though I do not: (i) completely agree with your analyses, nor (ii) notice your usage of any of the secret cypher words or secretion of the subtle pheromones which would allow me to recognize you as a fellow attorney; I have not found any of "your legal theories" to be too far off of the mark. I know that these matters have been of interest to you for some time -- this attempt to infantilize you was uncalled for. Pay those words no heed.

    Be seeing you...

    Thank you.  As I try to mention in many of my postings, I am not a lawyer; just a software engineer with a long-running interest in legal issues.  However, the two professions utilize many of the same skills; they both deal with nuances of precisely written language, where concepts like syntax, definitions, logic, execution context, and incorporation by reference are critically important.  So I allow myself the conceit that I am probably at least better than the average reader at understanding legalese.

    As I also try to occasionally mention, as a non-lawyer, I'm almost certainly getting things wrong from time to time.  If you (or anyone else, really) ever notes a place where my logic is wrong, or I've misread the evidence, or I don't understand the law properly, please let me know what I've got wrong, as specifically as possible, either privately or publicly, and I will revise my assessments in light of anything new I learn.

    Also, let me just say that I love the handle.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CessnaFighter on April 06, 2018, 07:17:13 pm
    Hi,

    This is my second post on this forum and i just cant stay out of this conversation.
    I have to apologize already, since i haven't even read this whole thread with its dozens of replies, but after reviewing a lot of items on all sides. I have to say that initially as i started to again follow SC2 items and got back to playing the immediate response on all of this fuzz was to support P&F fully on their case. That was the initial feeling.

    Now after looking into things for the last few weeks, i find it ridicilous on their part. Stardock and brad has been as open and supportive with them as someone can be. After seeing how P&F have actually responded and been involved in all of this, i sadly have to say that the immerse respect for them has been vanished. I feel that even if they would eventually get something done on a new SC game, the shine on the game has been brought down by their acts.

    After saying this, i really want to give a supportive hand to frogboy and their insanely good looking Star Control game ! I am really looking forward on getting to test your game. You have truly managed to keep the old feeling on it and still update things for a 2018 feeling.

    There. Said it.

    Peace.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 06, 2018, 08:16:39 pm
    > Stardock and brad has been as open and supportive with them as someone can be

    That's how things stood a few months ago, yesÖ


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 06, 2018, 08:21:48 pm
    Hello everyone.

    It's nice to meet you all. I am a long time lurker and have greatly appreciated the community's work on the Ur Quan Masters project over the years. Let me begin my relationship with this forum by thanking everyone who has had a hand in that project and has continued to improve upon one of my favorite games of all time. I am, no doubt, one of many people who, while not active in the community over the years, have nonetheless been grateful for what the community has done for the broader Star Control fanbase.

    I have been following this subject extensively both here and elsewhere. I've posted a few times on Frogboy's forums, mainly on my belief that neither side has been saints in all of this but it would be best for the brand if the situation was de-escalated and an amicable arrangement could be reached else it risks fracturing the fanbase. I have also read every post in this thread to be current on everything.

    There was just a few subjects that I wanted to register in order to give my thoughts on.

    1. I can completely understand Frogboy's wariness of new accounts, particularly in the situation that he currently finds himself in. I don't necessarily agree with it, because as others have pointed out a lot of people are posting for the first time specifically because of the current situation, but it probably could appear to someone in his position that people are just coming out of the woodwork to criticize him and to wonder how "legit" those individuals are if they have not been a part of the community all along.

    2. I also respect his public engagement with the Star Control community, here and elsewhere on the Internet. This, of all times, cannot be the easiest time to have such a public presence. It takes a commendable degree of courage - and not a little bit of patience - to continue to maintain such a high profile at this time.

    Personally, I think he'd benefit a great deal by going offline for a couple of weeks and get away from the forum discussions...take some time to relax and take a breather since it seems to me his posts towards the latter part of this thread have gotten more aggressive than they were earlier in the thread....but I respect his decision not to do so.

    3. On the other hand, I also respect Paul and Fred's decision not to have quite such a public presence. Yes, we've seen their views here and there - mainly on their blog - but I can understand and even appreciate how they are not in this thread giving their side of things. As much as we, as fans, might appreciate seeing more of their take and reasoning as we have seen Frogboy's, I can't imagine that the current situation would be improved in any way by the two sides of a legal dispute arguing back in forth about it on an internet forum with all of us chiming in our thoughts throughout.

    4. I actually hadn't been aware that Frogboy had been a moderator of the Star Control subreddit previously and had resigned to avoid conflict of interest. That's very commendable. Kudos.

    5. Yes, Star Control 1 and 2 had been on sale on GoG for years prior to being added to Steam...but with P&F's permission and under a legal agreement worked out between them and GoG.

    GoG would not be selling the games otherwise, so arguing that it's no big deal for Stardock to sell them on Steam because they were already on GoG or because they'd only made $2K or to bundle them with Origins is a little misleading IMO because it goes to the heart of the current dispute: who owns what? P&F's contention is that they own those games (among other things). Part of their argument is that GoG and Atari both acknowledged their ownership and GoG is only selling them now with express permission from P&F.

    "Let's presume, for the sake of argument their lawyer convinced us that the 1988 agreement was no longer valid and Stardock took the games down from Steam.

    Now what?  Stardock, in addition to changing the name Super-Melee to Fleet Battles has abided by their wishes and removed the game from Steam at which point it had probably made maybe $2k. What would have been reasonable to expect in return from Paul and Fred?"


    Sorry about that. I'm a bit new here and don't have my forum quoting skills fully up to snuff. This is something Frogboy said a couple of pages back. My answer would be...nothing. Nothing at all. IF - and I use the word if because this is part of what is under dispute - but IF those games legally are owned by P&F then they don't owe you anything for doing them the favor of not selling them without their permission.

    Now, this is all hypothetical at this point and I'm specifically NOT going to say Stardock does or does not have the right to sell those games.

    Your question posed a hypothetical about what P&F should give you if you became convinced that you don't have the right to sell those games, and my answer would be essentially what GoG's answer was when P&F asked them why they were selling the games without permission. P&F owed GoG nothing in return for GoG stopping doing so. GoG even extended an apology for the mistake to P&F. So IF legally those games are fully owned by P&F then I would argue your mindset should not be "what can I get in return for not selling them illegally" it should be "oh, whoops. This was a misunderstanding. I thought I had legal rights to sell them and now I have found out otherwise. I'll take them down right away or work out some way I can continue to sell them with P&F's permission."

    And the opposite is also valid. If it turns out that P&F have been illegally using something that belongs to Stardock, they should not expect to get anything in return for discontinuing doing so.

    I'd suggest both sides take that approach going forward irregardless of what has happened in the past. As others have suggested, sit down with everyone's lawyers and go through the contracts jointly and figure out who owns what.

    At the very core of the sense of personal betrayal is that single concept: both sides feel the other has acted in bad faith and that it's JUST SO OBVIOUS who owns what that if the other side isn't acknowledging it then clearly they really know the truth but are hiding it to act maliciously. So long as the mindset is that the opposite side is acting in bad faith, there can be no attempt to understand where the other side is coming from.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 06, 2018, 08:22:35 pm
    Wow. Sorry. That ended up being a little longer than I initially planned.


    Title: Trademark classes
    Post by: Elestan on April 06, 2018, 10:10:42 pm
    Just as a total long-shot....I don't suppose there is a trademark attorney watching who could opine on whether it matters that the original Star Control trademark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75095591&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) is in international classification 28 (Toys and Sporting Goods) instead of international classification 9 (which seems to include all computer software)?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 06, 2018, 10:19:03 pm
    What, in your not-a-lawyer opinion, would be the ramifications for the difference?

    Or put another way, why does it matter? (And yes, I will take anything you say with the important caveat that you're not a legal expert but just suggesting you know a bit more about these things than the average person.)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 06, 2018, 10:30:51 pm
    That the classification system has eveolved a lot in the meantime, and when Star Control was registered, it may have been that the computer games classes were within "sports", where Accolade had more games...

    That will be a discussion in court too.
    The new trademark registration is definitely for the correct main class.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 06, 2018, 10:32:47 pm
    What, in your not-a-lawyer opinion, would be the ramifications for the difference?

    Or put another way, why does it matter? (And yes, I will take anything you say with the important caveat that you're not a legal expert but just suggesting you know a bit more about these things than the average person.)

    Sorry, I'm going to punt, as I really have no idea.  It could be that this would be regarded as an inconsequential clerical issue.  Or it could be a fatal flaw in the trademark that makes it unenforceable unless you're making toys.  There also seem to be two different classification regimes; the international one, and the U.S. one, and I don't know how they interact.  This one needs a real lawyer.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 06, 2018, 10:40:54 pm
    Registered are:
    US classes 022, 023, 038, 050

    https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/selectnumwithtitle.htm (https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/selectnumwithtitle.htm):
    022: ???
    023: Chemical: physical process
    038: ironing or smoothing
    050: ???

    Either I goolgled wrong, or I don't understand their classification approach....

    Class28 seems to be (link (https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/uspc028/defs028.htm)) "   TEXTILES: MANUFACTURING"
    Dosn't sound much like computer games and associated toys...

    http://www.wipo.int/classifications/nice/nclpub/en/fr/20180101/hierarchy/class-28/

    The international class 28 is "Class 28 Games, toys and playthings; video game apparatus; gymnastic and sporting articles; decorations for Christmas trees" (Source: wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_(Nice)_Classification_of_Goods_and_Services#List_of_Classes_(11th_edition)))

    Since the WIPO page is not fully functional on this iOS device, just as the USPTO list of classes, I have to stop here.
    But it does open questions....


    edit3: http://ptrca.org/files/handouts/US_TM_Number_Guide_2011.pdf resulted in some additional info, even though at first glance it seemed less interesting...
    class 022: Games, toys, and sporting goods
    class 050: Merchandise not otherwise classified
    38 seems to be okay, but 22 in that list also doesn't make much sense...
    I'm wondering at the discrpancies....

    Sounds all right, and may be the result of changed approcoach to classifying computer games.
    I know that originally they were hoping for some merchandise/toys to be sold as well....


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 07, 2018, 01:19:52 am
    Just as a total long-shot....I don't suppose there is a trademark attorney watching who could opine on whether it matters that the original Star Control trademark (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75095591&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) is in international classification 28 (Toys and Sporting Goods) instead of international classification 9 (which seems to include all computer software)?

    What, in your not-a-lawyer opinion, would be the ramifications for the difference?

    Or put another way, why does it matter? (And yes, I will take anything you say with the important caveat that you're not a legal expert but just suggesting you know a bit more about these things than the average person.)

    Sorry, I'm going to punt, as I really have no idea.  It could be that this would be regarded as an inconsequential clerical issue.  Or it could be a fatal flaw in the trademark that makes it unenforceable unless you're making toys.  There also seem to be two different classification regimes; the international one, and the U.S. one, and I don't know how they interact.  This one needs a real lawyer.

    Hmm...this could explain why Stardock filed a new trademark application (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87807839&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch) for "Star Control" in category 9 a month or so ago.  I had thought they were doing it just in case the old one was determined to have lapsed, but it might have been because it had the wrong category.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 07, 2018, 06:45:45 pm
    Two different parties can have the same Trademark if they are in unrelated businesses. I wouldn't say that registering the Trademark for toys means they can't enforce it against a computer game -- those things are too close to each other. But it does start to touch on the fact that you have co-existing use for a long time here.

    Use is such a huge part of Trademark. "If you don't use it you lose it" has totally applied to Trademarks. Further, using it for a long time can establish a common law Trademark without any real registration. A common law Trademark isn't as strong as a registered Trademark. But there are situations where courts are unwilling to force a Defendant to stop using a Trademark, because it's clear they'd been using it for a long time without anyone really challenging it. For example, if you ran a "Tropicana Travel Agency" for years, a court would be reluctant to enforce PepsiCo's "Tropicana" trademark.

    The relevance to this case is hugely ambiguous.

    The Trademark wasn't directly used in commerce. P&F are not actually selling a product called Star Control. They used "Star Control" in an announcement for Ghost of the Precursors. If saying "we're making a sequel to Star Control 2" is using the SC Trademark, then don't Paul and Fred have a decade+ of using it in that exact way without any objection? Vice versa, if that decade of sequel talk isn't enough to establish use of the Trademark, then isn't the GOTP announcement just more non-use?

    And that's before you factor in Stardock's announcements invoking P&F and SC in the same breath.

    There's some really interesting IP issues here.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 07:24:35 pm
    What's the name of the game they announced again?

    (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/ae08e397-55ec-4ce0-9d13-f2a5338f0158.png)

    I wonder what Activision would do if Insomniac were to announce the "true" sequel to Spyro the Dragon with a release date 5 days before the new Spyro game being developed by Toys for Bob.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 07, 2018, 07:50:24 pm
    What's the name of the game they announced again?

    None of those posts actually say.  I assume that what you're implying is that you think consumers wouldn't read very closely, fail to notice that, and jump to an incorrect conclusion.

    Quote
    I wonder what Activision would do if Insomniac were to announce the "true" sequel to Spyro the Dragon with a release date 5 days before the new Spyro game being developed by Toys for Bob.

    In order for that situation to be analogous, Insomniac would have to hold the copyright to Spyro or his storyline. 

    Right now, there seem to be two big legal question marks on this:  One relating to the limits of nominative fair use of trademarks, and the other dealing with conflicts between copyright and trademark when applied to a product that is also a creative work.  These are questions that I readily acknowledge I don't know enough about IP law to opine on, so I'm holding off on forming an opinion until I see something written by a judge or an IP lawyer on the subject.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 08:38:48 pm
    I'm not sure where you got that, Elestan.  There's no fair use argument here.

    Trademark infringement is unauthorized use of a trademark in in association with a product or service that is likely to cause consumer confusion.  

    Sort of like this:
    (https://content.screencast.com/users/draginol/folders/Snagit/media/a3174fa2-d1b5-4563-9b26-738c256c54d7/04.07.2018-14.10.png)

    If you want to learn about trademark fair use you can read here. https://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/Fair-Use-of-TrademarksNL.aspx

    Did Paul and Fred use the Star Control trademark without authorization? Yes.  Did they know that Stardock had the trademark? Yes.  Did it cause confusion? Yes.  Have they continued to engage in activities to create confusion? Yes.  Could the mess have been easily cleaned up in October/November? Yes.

    If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  We didn't for the same reason I offered to sell them the Star Control IP - to make it easier for them to return to continue their story.  

    But having chosen not to invest in acquiring the Star Control IP, they forfeited the right to associate their new game with the Star Control trademark without our license.  They could have announced it as Ur-Quan Masters II: Ghosts of the Precursors.  The hard-core fans would have understood what that meant and been satisfied.  But they didn't do that.  They wanted to capitalize on the fame and name recognition of the Star Control brand. A trademark that Stardock spent over $300,000 acquiring and a subsequent 4 years and millions of dollars investing in.  







    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: lostsoul on April 07, 2018, 08:52:36 pm
    on the belief that when you bought "star control"  that you acquired everything within the name as well...and that therein lies the problem...


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 07, 2018, 09:14:03 pm
    So, I think I need to point out a rhetorical issue in your last post.  You start out with the assertion:

    There's no fair use argument here.

    Clearly there is a fair use argument; the question is whether it succeeds or not.  And I was expecting you to speak to that, based on the reference you cited.  But instead, you drop the topic of fair use, and change the subject to trademark infringement in general:

    Quote
    Trademark infringement is unauthorized use of a trademark in in association with a product or service that is likely to cause consumer confusion.

    ...and then you go on to a point-by-point of why trademark infringement applies.

    But whether trademark infringement applies or not is orthogonal to whether P&F's post falls under the fair use exception.  To answer the fair use question, the point-by-point you need has to come from the fair use criteria, showing why they do not apply.

    FWIW, my not-a-lawyer guess, based on reading the fair use article, is that saying "The Creators of Star Control II are making a sequel" might well have qualified as fair use if they stopped there.  However, using the SC2 product imagery probably pushed it over the line because it used more of the product identity than was necessary to identify it, and saying 'true sequel' might also be a problem because it implies that Stardock's products might not be.

    So right now, I suspect they stepped over the line...but not in a giant, aggressive way.  If I were to award damages just based on my own concept of fairness (with no regard to the legal rules for such calculations), I'd have them pay Stardock some money, but not a massive amount of money.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 09:25:11 pm
    on the belief that when you bought "star control"  that you acquired everything within the name as well...and that therein lies the problem...

    When we acquired the trademark we...acquired the trademark.   I'm not sure what you are getting at.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 07, 2018, 09:47:36 pm
    When we acquired the trademark we...acquired the trademark.   I'm not sure what you are getting at.

    As a fan of SC2/UQM, the worst thing I'm afraid of is that you shut down GotP's development if you win the lawsuit. And the fact that you are attempting to register trademarks associated with UQM hints that this is your intention. If I was sure that GotP is going to be developed by Fred & Paul and released no matter what, I wouldn't care one bit who won the lawsuit. Force F&P to apologize for infringing on your trademark, force them to pay whatever damages you think are due. As long as GotP still gets released, I would be content. So if F&P rebrand the classic games so that they no longer use the Star Control name (say, Famous Battles of the Ur-Quan Conflict, The Ur-Quan Masters, and Ur-Quan: Ghosts of the Precursors, the way you rebranded SC3 as The Kessari Quadrant), would you agree to leave these games alone? Would F&P be allowed to mention that the classic games were originally released as Star Control and Star Control II?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: lostsoul on April 07, 2018, 10:19:43 pm
    on the belief that when you bought "star control"  that you acquired everything within the name as well...and that therein lies the problem...

    When we acquired the trademark we...acquired the trademark.   I'm not sure what you are getting at.
    i believe your company was misled into thinking you bought everything star control related...names...places...characters...story...ui...themes...sounds...impressions

    when in fact all you bought was the the name "star control" ... just the name...nothing else.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 07, 2018, 10:32:17 pm
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock announced that Paul and Fred were making a true sequel (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock doubled down by giving Paul and Fred their blessing in every interview and announcement (https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/09/star-control-ii-developers-working-on-direct-sequel-25-years-later/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock talked about a multiverse where Star Control 2 was a separate continuity, reserved for Paul and Fred's sequel (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/10/stardock-ceo-talks-star-control-origins-player-crafting-and-upcoming-beta/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock insisted that the only way you'd see the SC2 aliens again is if Paul and Fred were directly involved?
    How much confusion was caused by over a decade of calling Paul and Fred the creators, who are planning and working on a sequel, without a challenge from Atari (let alone Stardock)?

    It's not as cut and dry as other Trademark infringement cases. It's pretty rare that a plaintiff would openly use their Trademark to describe the defendant's work -- past, present, or future, let alone all of the above -- and then sue the defendant anyway. This is the only time I've ever heard of a company doing that. It's unprecedented.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 10:47:40 pm
    on the belief that when you bought "star control"  that you acquired everything within the name as well...and that therein lies the problem...

    When we acquired the trademark we...acquired the trademark.   I'm not sure what you are getting at.
    i believe your company was misled into thinking you bought everything star control related...names...places...characters...story...ui...themes...sounds...impressions

    when in fact all you bought was the the name "star control" ... just the name...nothing else.

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions. 

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    This is why  Star Control: Origins doesn't include any material from Star Control II that would fall under copyright.  The closest thing would be Riku's music except of course, Star Control: Origins music is composed by Riku. 

    So for example, I would have loved to have had the Super-Melee theme music in Star Control: Origins. But I wasn't able to get ahold of Dan Nicholson, the composer of that track I believe.  So we had to compose new music for that.

    Similarly, we can't put an alien that looks visually derived from Fwiffo into the game (though that gets murky fast since a one-eyed, green alien, is not that distinctive).   The more distinctive your copyrighted work is, the easier it is to protect.

    Now, UI, game design, themes, we didn't "buy" those things because we didn't need to any  more than they had to "buy" Space Wars to do Super-Melee or whether Angry Birds needed to buy any of the gazillion games it is a clone of.

    Hope that helps!


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 10:51:05 pm
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock announced that Paul and Fred were making a true sequel (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock doubled down by giving Paul and Fred their blessing in every interview and announcement (https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/09/star-control-ii-developers-working-on-direct-sequel-25-years-later/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock talked about a multiverse where Star Control 2 was a separate continuity, reserved for Paul and Fred's sequel (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/10/stardock-ceo-talks-star-control-origins-player-crafting-and-upcoming-beta/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock insisted that the only way you'd see the SC2 aliens again is if Paul and Fred were directly involved?
    How much confusion was caused by over a decade of calling Paul and Fred the creators, who are planning and working on a sequel, without a challenge from Atari (let alone Stardock)?

    It's not as cut and dry as other Trademark infringement cases. It's pretty rare that a plaintiff would openly use their Trademark to describe the defendant's work -- past, present, or future, let alone all of the above -- and then sue the defendant anyway. This is the only time I've ever heard of a company doing that. It's unprecedented.

    For Paul and Fred's sake, I hope they don't try to use those arguments in court.  Those are appeals to emotion. Not law.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 10:54:42 pm
    When we acquired the trademark we...acquired the trademark.   I'm not sure what you are getting at.

    As a fan of SC2/UQM, the worst thing I'm afraid of is that you shut down GotP's development if you win the lawsuit. And the fact that you are attempting to register trademarks associated with UQM hints that this is your intention. If I was sure that GotP is going to be developed by Fred & Paul and released no matter what, I wouldn't care one bit who won the lawsuit. Force F&P to apologize for infringing on your trademark, force them to pay whatever damages you think are due. As long as GotP still gets released, I would be content. So if F&P rebrand the classic games so that they no longer use the Star Control name (say, Famous Battles of the Ur-Quan Conflict, The Ur-Quan Masters, and Ur-Quan: Ghosts of the Precursors, the way you rebranded SC3 as The Kessari Quadrant), would you agree to leave these games alone? Would F&P be allowed to mention that the classic games were originally released as Star Control and Star Control II?

    I can't imagine a scenario where GoTP, with that title, is developed. 

    What I will say is that Stardock will be generous in licensing its marks, including ones to alien names it claims such as the Spathi, Orz, etc. if it helps get a follow-up to the UQM story made.

    My personal preference would be something like Ur-Quan Masters II: <subtitle>.




    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 07, 2018, 11:05:14 pm
    Quote
    What I will say is that Stardock will be generous in licensing its marks, including ones to alien names it claims such as the Spathi, Orz, etc. if it helps get a follow-up to the UQM story made.

    You just said that Fred and Paul hold the copyright to the story of SC1 and SC2, including all the characters and story elements they feature. That means that your attempt to trademark "Spathi", "Orz", "Arilou", etc. is infringing on F&P's copyright:

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    This is why  Star Control: Origins doesn't include any material from Star Control II that would fall under copyright.  The closest thing would be Riku's music except of course, Star Control: Origins music is composed by Riku.  

    In that case, you can't talk about "being generous" in licensing marks you have no right to possess. I'm not talking about "Star Control", which you do legally possess, I'm talking about the race names.

    As for GotP getting renamed, that would be unfortunate, but acceptable if things do come to that.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 11:15:10 pm
    Quote
    What I will say is that Stardock will be generous in licensing its marks, including ones to alien names it claims such as the Spathi, Orz, etc. if it helps get a follow-up to the UQM story made.

    You just said that Fred and Paul hold the copyright to the story of SC1 and SC2, including all the characters and story elements they feature. That means that your attempt to trademark "Spathi", "Orz", "Arilou", etc. is infringing on F&P's copyright:

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    This is why  Star Control: Origins doesn't include any material from Star Control II that would fall under copyright.  The closest thing would be Riku's music except of course, Star Control: Origins music is composed by Riku.  

    In that case, you can't talk about "being generous" in licensing marks you have no right to possess. I'm not talking about "Star Control", which you do legally possess, I'm talking about the race names.

    As for GotP getting renamed, that would be unfortunate, but acceptable if things do come to that.

    I'm sorry but that's not how copyright works.

    You can't copyright a name. That's what a trademark is.   

    Here's a quickie guide that explains the difference:

    http://smallbusiness.chron.com/differences-between-copyright-trademark-3218.html

    Briefly:

    Trademarks are for "words, names, symbols, sounds or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods."

    Copyrights are for "opyright protects original works created in a fixed form including "literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works."

    There's also patents (for inventions) but they don't figure into here.

    Example:

    Stardock owns name "Spathi" as a name for an alien in computer game. 

    Paul and Fred presumably own the artistic expression (visual and the lore) for this guy:

    (https://orig00.deviantart.net/fe04/f/2011/182/4/e/the_spathi___fwiffo_by_dczanik-d3kmjil.jpg)

    So if the person who made that art were to make a game and put him in there with the name Spathi he'd be arguably violating Stardock's trademark and Paul and Fred's copyright.  I don't know if there's like a trophy or anything for that.  But if there was somehow a patent involved and that was owned by a third party then it would have to be some sort of grand slam on IP infringement.

    However, it's not quite as clear on the copyright because Paul and Fred released their UQM copyrights for non-commercial use so if that guy were to give away his game, it might fall under the copyright license Paul and Fred gave.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: rosepatel on April 07, 2018, 11:22:53 pm
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock announced that Paul and Fred were making a true sequel (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock doubled down by giving Paul and Fred their blessing in every interview and announcement (https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/09/star-control-ii-developers-working-on-direct-sequel-25-years-later/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock talked about a multiverse where Star Control 2 was a separate continuity, reserved for Paul and Fred's sequel (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/10/stardock-ceo-talks-star-control-origins-player-crafting-and-upcoming-beta/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock insisted that the only way you'd see the SC2 aliens again is if Paul and Fred were directly involved?
    How much confusion was caused by over a decade of calling Paul and Fred the creators, who are planning and working on a sequel, without a challenge from Atari (let alone Stardock)?

    It's not as cut and dry as other Trademark infringement cases. It's pretty rare that a plaintiff would openly use their Trademark to describe the defendant's work -- past, present, or future, let alone all of the above -- and then sue the defendant anyway. This is the only time I've ever heard of a company doing that. It's unprecedented.

    For Paul and Fred's sake, I hope they don't try to use those arguments in court.  Those are appeals to emotion. Not law.

    I say this as dispassionately as possible, there's no law where you can be held liable for someone else's behavior.

    If a fan said "Stardock is making a true sequel to Star Wars", it's not like Disney could sue Stardock. Even if journalists started picking up the story.

    There's a ton of announcements from Stardock alone that link Paul and Fred to Star Control, let alone a handful that talk about GOTP as a sequel. Even if it doesn't totally throw liability into question, which it might, It's going to be a major factor in how damages are attributed / mitigated.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 07, 2018, 11:38:11 pm
    They are welcome to try that argument. 



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 07, 2018, 11:50:30 pm
    Quote
    Stardock owns name "Spathi" as a name for an alien in computer game.  

    Paul and Fred presumably own the artistic expression (visual and the lore) for this guy:

    Did you acquire the rights to that name with the "Star Control" trademark? Or did you just try to acquire them when you filed for the "Spathi" trademark?

    In the latter case (which is supported by you also attempting to trademark "The Ur-Quan Masters"), is that even possible? Because by that logic, you'd be able to trademark, say, "Twi'lek" (I've checked it, there's no trademark for it currently!). Wouldn't Disney be entitled to sue you over it if you tried? And in any case, why would you want to hold on to those trademarks in the first place? To be able to name your own aliens "Spathi", "Arilou" or whatever (talk about confusion if this is indeed what you plan to do!)?

    And in the former case, well... that sucks. Because that would mean that in the worst-case scenario, you could force Fred and Paul to rename all of their aliens for the sequel (if not for the classic games).


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 12:04:28 am
    Short answer is that they will need to either license them or rename them.  I'd prefer a free license.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: kaminiwa on April 08, 2018, 01:16:53 am
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock announced that Paul and Fred were making a true sequel (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/11/star-control-ii-devs-finally-making-sequel/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock doubled down by giving Paul and Fred their blessing in every interview and announcement (https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/09/star-control-ii-developers-working-on-direct-sequel-25-years-later/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock talked about a multiverse where Star Control 2 was a separate continuity, reserved for Paul and Fred's sequel (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/10/stardock-ceo-talks-star-control-origins-player-crafting-and-upcoming-beta/)?
    How much confusion was caused when Stardock insisted that the only way you'd see the SC2 aliens again is if Paul and Fred were directly involved?
    How much confusion was caused by over a decade of calling Paul and Fred the creators, who are planning and working on a sequel, without a challenge from Atari (let alone Stardock)?

    It's not as cut and dry as other Trademark infringement cases. It's pretty rare that a plaintiff would openly use their Trademark to describe the defendant's work -- past, present, or future, let alone all of the above -- and then sue the defendant anyway. This is the only time I've ever heard of a company doing that. It's unprecedented.

    For Paul and Fred's sake, I hope they don't try to use those arguments in court.  Those are appeals to emotion. Not law.

    My understanding of trademark law is that there is something of a "use it or lose it", I believe legally referred to as "laches" (but I Am Not A Lawyer)? And rather than meet their announcements with a take-down notice or a trademark complaint, you actually signal-boosted and endorsed their announcement. That seems like more than an appeal to emotion - that seems like a pretty reasonable appeal to the "use it or lose it" facet of trademark. You yourself are now partly responsible for the confusion, because you yourself were responsible for spreading that idea. I can literally quote you, the trademark holder, describing GotP as "a true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters."

    "I am pleased to inform campers everywhere that Paul and Fred have announced a canon follow-up to Star Control II" are not the words of someone defending their trademark.

    Maybe I'm wrong about the legal principles here (again, I'm not a lawyer), but from an ethical and emotional  standpoint, it feels very confusing to see P&F being attacked for something you were previously PLEASED to stand behind. Even if you have the legal right to say "take-backsies", I think you do yourself a disservice by not being diplomatic about it. This continued focus on them "causing confusion and inflicting damages" seems especially strange when you yourself helped sow that confusion.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 02:09:29 am
    Laches usually refers to copyright.  Not trademark.  At least someone in this discussion is familiar with the concept.

    Speaking for myself, I can say that when they announced Ghosts, I was pretty shocked that they so willfully infringed on our trademark.  They actually put an (R) around Star Control (which immediately kills the first test for fair use btw) without attribution.

    However our options were:

    1. Say nothing.
    2. Correct them publicly.
    3. Support them.

    I chose option 3.  

    We had very little time to react and we were, at the time, still believing that it could be a win-win scenario and that we would paper this over.   Our objective was to mitigate the damage as much as possible and then paper it over with an agreement  I think if they had followed our recommendations, most of the damage could have been mitigated.  Unfortunately, they chose not to work with us.

    For example, since they wanted to associate with Star Control, we might have been open to having it be called Star Control: Ghosts of the Precursors provided that they worked with us. 

    If a famous game designer announces they want to make a sequel to one of our IPs using their universe we are inclined to weigh the benefits of that provided that they work with us.  Our default position is to assume that since they've made the announcement that they aren't IP illiterate and understand such a game will fall under our umbrella. Once they make the announcement, the burden is on them, to work with us not the other way around.  If they refuse then they need to terminate the endeavor and compensate us for any damages that might have been done.  Paul and Fred chose to double down. 

    But like I said, they can make whatever argument they want in court.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 05:42:51 am
    Trademarks are for "words, names, symbols, sounds or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods."
    Copyrights are for "opyright protects original works created in a fixed form including "literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works."
    Example:
    Stardock owns name "Spathi" as a name for an alien in computer game.  
    Paul and Fred presumably own the artistic expression (visual and the lore) for this guy:
    So if the person who made that art were to make a game and put him in there with the name Spathi he'd be arguably violating Stardock's trademark and Paul and Fred's copyright.

    So, first off, thank you; this is the first time you've explained your reasoning clearly enough for me to follow it.

    Second, a bit of research does at least tentatively confirm that race names are usually trademarked, not copyrighted.  

    However, without the copyright (i.e. if you lose the 1988 agreement issue), it seems to me that using them in a creative context that is at all similar to Paul's copyrighted setting is going to put you into Substantial similarity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substantial_similarity) territory, and run you afoul of the copyright.  Moreover, trademarking and using the SC2 race names when you're legally prohibited from making them similar to the SC2 races would be...well...a d*ck move, done purely to spite Paul and Fred, for no benefit at all to Stardock.  I hope that if that situation transpires, you'd respect Wheaton's Law (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/wheatons-law).

    Finally, I see one other problem with trying to claim trademark on those races:  Paul released UQM, using all of those alien race names, and Accolade didn't object.  That means that Accolade didn't defend whatever common-law trademarks it had in the race names, and therefore (as I understand trademark law) forfeited them.  And now that UQM has been using those names for years, I'm pretty sure you can't get a new trademark on a name that's already in use in the same product category.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 06:10:13 am
    Speaking for myself, I can say that when they announced Ghosts, I was pretty shocked that they so willfully infringed on our trademark.  They actually put an (R) around Star Control (which immediately kills the first test for fair use btw) without attribution.

    Which test for fair use was this?  I don't see one that seems to apply to putting the (R) in. 

    I notice that they did add the attribution afterward, so I'd be inclined to suspect that their failure to put it in at first was an oversight.

    Quote
    Our objective was to mitigate the damage as much as possible and then paper it over with an agreement  I think if they had followed our recommendations, most of the damage could have been mitigated.  Unfortunately, they chose not to work with us.

    So, I wish I could see the emails from this period, so that I could see exactly what your recommendations were.  But from the emails posted so far, it's pretty clear that at this point in time, you and they had different opinions on the 1988 agreement being live.  Until that issue was resolved, there was no way the two of you were ever going to agree on terms, since that makes the difference between Stardock's IP leverage being fairly modest and being massive.

    Quote
    If a famous game designer announces they want to make a sequel to one of our IPs using their universe we are inclined to weigh the benefits of that provided that they work with us.  Our default position is to assume that since they've made the announcement that they aren't IP illiterate and understand such a game will fall under our umbrella.

    I don't see how you could reasonably make that assumption, given that they had just sent you emails saying that they did not want to work with you.  The much more plausible assumption, it seems to me, is that they were trying to skate around the edges of your trademark by utilizing fair use, etc., without actually infringing it in a legally consequential way.  As previously discussed, they may have mis-stepped there, but that seems far more likely than them actually intending that their game would "fall under your umbrella".


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 08, 2018, 07:25:36 am
    So, let me get this straight...

    Stardock is trying to supersede Fred and Paul's copyrighted material by trademarking unique names from their copyrighted material... to prevent them from using their copyrighted material without getting a license from Stardock to use their own work...

    This is a MALICIOUS MISUSE of trademarks.  THIS IS NOT WHAT TRADEMARKS ARE FOR.  These trademarks have NEVER been NOR are presently being used to brand or label the source of any goods or services.  They are derived from copyrighted materials Stardock does not own.  And were FILED (Only one has even been assigned a trademark lawyer for review) after litigation was filed by Stardock.

    This is trademark trolling as retaliatory action.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Shiver on April 08, 2018, 08:13:49 am
    ^^^^^^^^

    Agreed completely! Stardock's trademark grab in particular has been eating at me for weeks as unjustifiable horseshit, and you've summed it up better than I ever could.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 08, 2018, 08:32:55 am
    So, I think I need to point out a rhetorical issue in your last post.  You start out with the assertion:

    There's no fair use argument here.

    Clearly there is a fair use argument; the question is whether it succeeds or not.  And I was expecting you to speak to that, based on the reference you cited.  But instead, you drop the topic of fair use, and change the subject to trademark infringement in general:

    Quote
    Trademark infringement is unauthorized use of a trademark in in association with a product or service that is likely to cause consumer confusion.

    ...and then you go on to a point-by-point of why trademark infringement applies.

    But whether trademark infringement applies or not is orthogonal to whether P&F's post falls under the fair use exception.  To answer the fair use question, the point-by-point you need has to come from the fair use criteria, showing why they do not apply.

    FWIW, my not-a-lawyer guess, based on reading the fair use article, is that saying "The Creators of Star Control II are making a sequel" might well have qualified as fair use if they stopped there.  However, using the SC2 product imagery probably pushed it over the line because it used more of the product identity than was necessary to identify it, and saying 'true sequel' might also be a problem because it implies that Stardock's products might not be.

    So right now, I suspect they stepped over the line...but not in a giant, aggressive way.  If I were to award damages just based on my own concept of fairness (with no regard to the legal rules for such calculations), I'd have them pay Stardock some money, but not a massive amount of money.

    I want to be upfront in that I am copying my post from littletinyfrogs.com (Brad's blog). Elestan does *not* have any basis for his assumptions in law. I understand if you dislike Brad (I personally am not a fan of Brad's politics or how he handed GalCiv 3 off to someone else, and the quality of the game in his absence *cough*) but if you are relying on the opinion of anyone posting on this board as to the outcome of the dispute between Stardock and Paul and Fred, that is a mistake. Elestan does not know the law and he does not know the facts of this dispute. No one here does.

    --------

    As an actual attorney (transactional, corporate law), I do want to point out that you should be extremely wary of any individual interpreting the law and applying it to the facts of this dispute (e.g. Elestan), and stating their opinion of which party is in the wrong on any given issue.

    There is an awful lot of armchair lawyering going on in the forums. IP law is notoriously one of the most difficult areas of the law to practice. Even the majority of attorneys have little-to-no knowledge of this area of the law. I note that I have not seen a *single* post citing *any* specific provisions from any of the sources of law. You cannot have a credible opinion on which party is at fault if you don't actually know the laws applicable to the issues in dispute. Even if there were numerous people on these forums who have spent their entire legal careers practicing IP and contract law, I'd be very wary of them rendering judgments considering that they also do not have access to the entire body of facts. I actually am an attorney, I have no definitive opinion on the eventual outcome of this dispute. I am suspicious of anyone who claims they do know what the outcome will be, and you should be as well. (FORTUNATELY NO ONE HAS DONE SO - D999)

    In summary, I haven't seen a single post that looks like it was written by an actual lawyer who has any understanding of the applicable laws and I have read a whole lot of application of faulty knowledge of the law to facts that have been hand-selected by each of the respective parties.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 08, 2018, 08:46:42 am
    It's also very interesting that the latest document about "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark filing by Stardock Systems Inc points out some glaring issues with the trademark filing itself.

    Trademark Filing: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87720654&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch

    Latest Document (2/13/2018): http://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn87720654&docId=OOA20180213153335#docIndex=2&page=1

    Application was NOT SIGNED.
    Specimens of Use Omitted
    Identification of services clarification required
    Information on multi-class application, if applicable

    So basically, Stardock's legal representation sent an unsigned application without stating how the mark was used and did not properly classify the intended use of the mark in detail enough to meet published requirements... Despite there being published classifications to choose from.  And... published requirements on USPTO's webpage to properly file a trademark filing.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 10:24:40 am
    As an actual attorney (transactional, corporate law), I do want to point out that you should be extremely wary of any individual interpreting the law and applying it to the facts of this dispute (e.g. Elestan), and stating their opinion of which party is in the wrong on any given issue.

    Hi svs, thanks for joining us here.  You're right; I'm not a lawyer, and nobody should be relying on anything I say as professional legal opinion.  I'm opining on things only because no actual lawyer has stepped up to provide a more informed opinion, and my opinions should be considered semi-educated guesses at best.  I try to make sure to restate that fairly regularly.

    Quote
    I have read a whole lot of application of faulty knowledge of the law to facts that have been hand-selected by each of the respective parties.

    Great!  Would you be willing to help us make it better?  Have you spotted any places where my knowledge of the law was faulty?  I've learned a couple new things about trademark law already, and I'd love to hear any insights that you, as an actual lawyer, might be able to share with us.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 11:55:23 am
    The problem for me is that anglo-saxon judges don't rely solely on the text of the law alone, but on previous decided cases too (case-law).

    The whole judge thing in the US and British laws makes it extremely difficult for outsiders (non-practicioners) to guess where it is going, as you might want to interpret the easily accessible law text, but the whole sets of previous decisions which may tangentially be i fluentisl on this case is simply not known, and even less easily interpretable.

    Personally, I don't like that way of speaking right.
    Too little law, too much case-law.

    Hence the need for good attorneys is much greater is the US/UK than in continental Europe. They need to know and have great experience in the case-law. Those who find better case-law (for their argument) win, not necessarily those who according to law interpretation alone...


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 08, 2018, 12:03:18 pm
    Season 1 Diamond Tiara is best pony


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 12:06:45 pm
    I don't find elestan trolling.
    Based on the stuff that is out and open, he has well founded line of logic.
    And he has already several times changed once further elements were published.

    I like his way, but your insistence that only lawyers are allowed to interpret a case is trolling. Trolling in favour of using expensive attroneys, instead of finding solutions.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 08, 2018, 12:14:44 pm
    Or maybe Cookie Crumbles


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 12:37:56 pm
    Yet you have not specified a single point where he IS wrong, e.g. by citing a relevant passage of law and how that contradicts his interpretation.
    And you are a lawyer.

    Sorry.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 08, 2018, 12:57:24 pm
    That is even more dangerous considering he THINKS he has some basis in knowledge that places him on even-keel with an IP Attorney.

    Show this now or reveal yourself to be the troll.

    A convenient way to gather this evidence is using the quote button, or by clicking on the offending post's permalink (which is the bold yellow restatement of the topic to the right of the poster's name at the top of the post), and copying the link target from the URL bar, and pasting that in a post. Either of these should be followed by an explanation of how a reasonable reader would find that Elestan claimed to be on par with an IP lawyer, context-inclusive. There is no super-secret body of case law involved here, so we should all be capable of following along.

    Or, you can retract this claim.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 01:28:00 pm
    Okay, let's start using applicable paragraphs, selected based on superficial googling, soI still, and won't ever, have an in-depth knowledge of the law at hand...
    Quote from: U.S. Code ß 1114 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1114)
    15 U.S. Code ß 1114 - Remedies; infringement; innocent infringement by printers and publishers

    (1) Any person who shall, without the consent of the registrantó
    (a) use in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive; or
    (b) reproduce, counterfeit, copy, or colorably imitate a registered mark and apply such reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation to labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles or advertisements intended to be used in commerce upon or in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive,

    shall be liable in a civil action by the registrant for the remedies hereinafter provided. Under subsection (b) hereof, the registrant shall not be entitled to recover profits or damages unless the acts have been committed with knowledge that such imitation is intended to be used to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.
    As used in this paragraph, the term ďany personĒ includes the United States, all agencies and instrumentalities thereof, and all individuals, firms, corporations, or other persons acting for the United States and with the authorization and consent of the United States, and any State, any instrumentality of a State, and any officer or employee of a State or instrumentality of a State acting in his or her official capacity. The United States, all agencies and instrumentalities thereof, and all individuals, firms, corporations, other persons acting for the United States and with the authorization and consent of the United States, and any State, and any such instrumentality, officer, or employee, shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter in the same manner and to the same extent as any nongovernmental entity.

    Well, there is no cmmercial use yet. No product for sale, yet. It's not even an advertisement yet.
    It's simply an announcement that development may soon begin of a product, that continues the original storyline of Star Control II.
    Now I find Stardocks situation even worse than before. This announcement was not yet made with much of a commercial mind, as there is no indication that a product WILL be SOLD.  Just that Activision has now allowed Ff and PR3 to do a side-project.

    Again, case-law will likely have limited my interpretation considerably, but I cannot be bothered to spend time into finding and reading case-law, and consider the relevance to this case.
    Also, there is the issue that FF and PR3 knew that a product using the trademark is in development and was at that time close to open a beta testing.
    There are arguments to be made for confusing the trademark, but so far FF and PR3 have not shown much with regard to commercial interests....

    Anyway, this paragraph of section 5 continues:
    Quote from: U.S. Code ß 1114 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1114)
    (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the remedies given to the owner of a right infringed under this chapter or to a person bringing an action under section 1125(a) or (d) of this title shall be limited as follows:
    (A) Where an infringer or violator is engaged solely in the business of printing the mark or violating matter for others and establishes that he or she was an innocent infringer or innocent violator, the owner of the right infringed or person bringing the action under section 1125(a) of this title shall be entitled as against such infringer or violator only to an injunction against future printing.
    (B) Where the infringement or violation complained of is contained in or is part of paid advertising matter in a newspaper, magazine, or other similar periodical or in an electronic communication as defined in section 2510(12) of title 18, the remedies of the owner of the right infringed or person bringing the action under section 1125(a) of this title as against the publisher or distributor of such newspaper, magazine, or other similar periodical or electronic communication shall be limited to an injunction against the presentation of such advertising matter in future issues of such newspapers, magazines, or other similar periodicals or in future transmissions of such electronic communications. The limitations of this subparagraph shall apply only to innocent infringers and innocent violators.
    (C) Injunctive relief shall not be available to the owner of the right infringed or person bringing the action under section 1125(a) of this title with respect to an issue of a newspaper, magazine, or other similar periodical or an electronic communication containing infringing matter or violating matter where restraining the dissemination of such infringing matter or violating matter in any particular issue of such periodical or in an electronic communication would delay the delivery of such issue or transmission of such electronic communication after the regular time for such delivery or transmission, and such delay would be due to the method by which publication and distribution of such periodical or transmission of such electronic communication is customarily conducted in accordance with sound business practice, and not due to any method or device adopted to evade this section or to prevent or delay the issuance of an injunction or restraining order with respect to such infringing matter or violating matter.
    (D)
    (i)
    (I) A domain name registrar, a domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority that takes any action described under clause (ii) affecting a domain name shall not be liable for monetary relief or, except as provided in subclause (II), for injunctive relief, to any person for such action, regardless of whether the domain name is finally determined to infringe or dilute the mark.
    (II) A domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority described in subclause (I) may be subject to injunctive relief only if such registrar, registry, or other registration authority hasó
    (aa) not expeditiously deposited with a court, in which an action has been filed regarding the disposition of the domain name, documents sufficient for the court to establish the courtís control and authority regarding the disposition of the registration and use of the domain name;
    (bb) transferred, suspended, or otherwise modified the domain name during the pendency of the action, except upon order of the court; or
    (cc) willfully failed to comply with any such court order.
    (ii) An action referred to under clause (i)(I) is any action of refusing to register, removing from registration, transferring, temporarily disabling, or permanently canceling a domain nameó
    (I) in compliance with a court order under section 1125(d) of this title; or
    (II) in the implementation of a reasonable policy by such registrar, registry, or authority prohibiting the registration of a domain name that is identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of anotherís mark.
    (iii) A domain name registrar, a domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority shall not be liable for damages under this section for the registration or maintenance of a domain name for another absent a showing of bad faith intent to profit from such registration or maintenance of the domain name.
    (iv) If a registrar, registry, or other registration authority takes an action described under clause (ii) based on a knowing and material misrepresentation by any other person that a domain name is identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of a mark, the person making the knowing and material misrepresentation shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneyís fees, incurred by the domain name registrant as a result of such action. The court may also grant injunctive relief to the domain name registrant, including the reactivation of the domain name or the transfer of the domain name to the domain name registrant.
    (v) A domain name registrant whose domain name has been suspended, disabled, or transferred under a policy described under clause (ii)(II) may, upon notice to the mark owner, file a civil action to establish that the registration or use of the domain name by such registrant is not unlawful under this chapter. The court may grant injunctive relief to the domain name registrant, including the reactivation of the domain name or transfer of the domain name to the domain name registrant.
    (E) As used in this paragraphó
    (i) the term ďviolatorĒ means a person who violates section 1125(a) of this title; and
    (ii) the term ďviolating matterĒ means matter that is the subject of a violation under section 1125(a) of this title.
    (3)
    (A) Any person who engages in the conduct described in paragraph (11) of section 110 of title 17 and who complies with the requirements set forth in that paragraph is not liable on account of such conduct for a violation of any right under this chapter. This subparagraph does not preclude liability, nor shall it be construed to restrict the defenses or limitations on rights granted under this chapter, of a person for conduct not described in paragraph (11) of section 110 of title 17, even if that person also engages in conduct described in paragraph (11) of section 110 of such title.
    (B) A manufacturer, licensee, or licensor of technology that enables the making of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture imperceptible as described in subparagraph (A) is not liable on account of such manufacture or license for a violation of any right under this chapter, if such manufacturer, licensee, or licensor ensures that the technology provides a clear and conspicuous notice at the beginning of each performance that the performance of the motion picture is altered from the performance intended by the director or copyright holder of the motion picture. The limitations on liability in subparagraph (A) and this subparagraph shall not apply to a manufacturer, licensee, or licensor of technology that fails to comply with this paragraph.
    (C) The requirement under subparagraph (B) to provide notice shall apply only with respect to technology manufactured after the end of the 180-day period beginning on April 27, 2005.
    (D) Any failure by a manufacturer, licensee, or licensor of technology to qualify for the exemption under subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not be construed to create an inference that any such party that engages in conduct described in paragraph (11) of section 110 of title 17 is liable for trademark infringement by reason of such conduct.
    2 does not seem to apply, at least not to FF and PR3, but could apply to their PR firm. And the sites/blogs that republished the PR post.
    But it links to
    Quote from: Section 15, U.S. Code ß1125 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1125#a)
    15 U.S. Code ß 1125 - False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden

    (a) Civil action
    (1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, whichó
    (A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
    (B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another personís goods, services, or commercial activities,
    shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.
    Here we are. But then, this passage is also relevant for copyright law. And Stardock has gone to great lengths to associate their rpdocut with FF and PR3 as well, and misrepresenting the nature of their service into getting Origins done/approved.

    No, I'll stop here, and I am very sure I misinterpreted these parts, as I started from https://cyber.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm#7 , and did not look at the hierarchy of the law titles....

    I will furthermore disregard all this again, as it remains complex issues, and the texts are too long to actually cite in forum posts.
    I would need simply too much time to read myself properly into the law texts, and their hierarchy.
    And I will never be able to become complete.
    There is a reason why practicioners need a law degree and years of practice before being allowed to speak before court.

    Neither Elestan nor myself have done so, or ever made believe we are doing so or consider ourselves par with practicioners.


    And, if I may take Frogboy's statement of how much he dislikes forum newcomers to enter discussions, you seem to fall within his categories.





    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 08, 2018, 01:52:10 pm
    Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

    I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 08, 2018, 01:58:24 pm
    Yet you have not specified a single point where he IS wrong, e.g. by citing a relevant passage of law and how that contradicts his interpretation.
    And you are a lawyer.

    Sorry.

    Straw man argument, sir. You ask me to prove a negative, vis-a-vie the fact that Elestan actually has no knowledge of the law. The fact I am not specifically addressing his argument does not infer any degree of accuracy in his opinion. He, and honestly you (no offense), have zero knowledge of the topic you are arguing. I don't mean this to sound insulting, but ti is accurate. Your opinion is so separated from fact as to be rendered meaningless.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 02:04:53 pm
    Quote
    And, if I may take Frogboy's statement of how much he dislikes forum newcomers to enter discussions, you seem to fall within his categories.

    Not dislike, skepticism.  And itís because I post as myself and take my lumps.  The number of brand new posters in this thread with seeming no history anywhere else makes me skeptical that they arenít an interested party posting under an alias.

    I looked up SVS after seeing him reference my blog.  Heís been on our forums for 11 years, posting on a variety of topics.  Compare that to say Kaminawa. No history. No evidence of having posted anywhere. Could just be a lurker using a different handle. Could also be an interested partyís daughter wanting to participate under an alias.  

    As a biased party, I see a lot of brand new accounts with handles that only exist here or perhaps here and Reddit where they were brand new accounts posting the same, specific but flawed arguments.  By contrast, every person Iíve seen here sympathetic to Stardockís POV has either been a member here for a long time or has a traceable account elsewhere.  

    It doesnít prove anything other than that I believe those reading these posts should take new, untraceable, accounts with a grain of salt.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 02:28:10 pm
    Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

    I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.
    Interesting, as I have not yet seen anywhere that the product will be sold.
    I know, this is fa fetched, but I already once wrote I'd love to know the scope of the intended GotP project...

    Marketing is also a very broad concept.
    Advertisement and marketing are different, for the purpose of law. And the cited passage goes about advertisement, not marketing.
    Nit-picking. But that will the lawyers be doing in the end.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 04:08:58 pm
    Now I know what bugs me about svs's posts:
    He does not allow Elestan an opportunity to defend him/herself...
    While broadly attacking Elestan for being wrong on ALL accounts.

    Yet you have not specified a single point where he IS wrong, e.g. by citing a relevant passage of law and how that contradicts his interpretation.
    And you are a lawyer.

    Sorry.

    Straw man argument, sir. You ask me to prove a negative, vis-a-vie the fact that Elestan actually has no knowledge of the law. The fact I am not specifically addressing his argument does not infer any degree of accuracy in his opinion. He, and honestly you (no offense), have zero knowledge of the topic you are arguing. I don't mean this to sound insulting, but ti is accurate. Your opinion is so separated from fact as to be rendered meaningless.
    No, I asked you to povide a single point, with argumentation, why Elestan is wrong.
    So that Elestan can defend himself.
    You only generally state that Elestan is wrong. From the beginnings, assumptions, down to the interpretation/conclusion.

    e.g. the 1988 agreement. The interpretation does not require much knowledge of law, as the agreement is self-sufficient.
    How is Elestan's conclusion that the licensing agreement regarding selling/distribution of the games has ended wrong?

    edit:some spelling errors corrected


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 05:46:43 pm
    Would you be willing to help us make it better?  Have you spotted any places where my knowledge of the law was faulty?
    Quote
    From the transactional, corporate law angle (my field of focus), I can ensure you that your views are severely flawed in the understanding of the actual law AND your application is flawed due to lack of knowledge of the necessary, underlying factual basis from which you are depending on for your analysis.

    I think you mean 'assure', not 'ensure'.  I'm entirely open to the possibility that my views are badly flawed, but if you want to say so and be taken seriously, you'll need to point to the flawed statements I've made, rather than making generalized accusations of incompetence.

    Quote
    I can't specifically point you to the facts you are ignoring in your application of the law because you either lack knowledge of the applicable law or lack possession of the the full body of facts required for application.  I can't correct your knowledge of the applicable law at issue because you have no decernable underlying knowledge of the law that is applicable to this dispute.

    Sorry, but your logic here makes no sense.  I've made a lot of statements in this thread.  All you need to do is point to a few of them, and cite laws or facts that contradict them.  Instead, you're making a circular argument claiming that you can't prove my lack of knowledge because I lack knowledge.

    Quote
    Please cite a single statute, reg, case law, etc that directly supports your assertions. If you cannot at least directly cite one of the sources of law in each post, please refrain from further comments.

    You are asserting that any sort of commentary on legal matters must include legal citations to have any value.  That assertion is false; I'm writing commentary, not a legal brief that needs to be built from the ground up on statute.  My intent is to apply sourcing rigor roughly similar to Wikipedia, in which not all statements need to be sourced, but If someone were to point to a particular point that they believe I've gotten wrong, I would find further support for it, or withdraw it and thank them for correcting me.  That's happened only a couple of times, and I'd love for it to happen more often.

    Quote
    You are nothing but a troll throwing out garbage.

    ...and at this point, you've stepped over the line into ad hominem, and violated the posting rules of this forum.

    Straw man argument, sir.

    I'm glad to see you are acquainted with argumentative fallacies such as the Straw Man.  Let me point you to another, The Courtier's Reply (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply):
    Quote from: Wikipedia
    ...in which a respondent to criticism dismisses the arguments of the critic by claiming that the critic lacks sufficient knowledge, credentials, or training to credibly comment on the subject matter..

    Frogboy has twice (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77302#msg77302) tried (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77393#msg77393) to use this tactic against me here, and I asked the moderators not to take action against him for it, because I genuinely want to hear his perspectives.  But it's getting a little old, and having more people launching baseless attacks does not help the conversation.  If you want to provide constructive criticism or an entirely different well-reasoned perspective, I would welcome it, but otherwise, it would be best if you were not here.

    EDIT:  Just noticed I hadn't responded to this bit:
    he THINKS he has some basis in knowledge that places him on even-keel with an IP Attorney.
    I'm quite certain that I think nothing of the sort, and indeed have made statements to the opposite effect on numerous occasions.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 06:03:26 pm
    If the moderators have a problem with me pointing out how obnoxious your pretend lawyer posts are then Iíd just leave.

    I donít necessarily agree with the tone of svsís posts but I agree with the substance.  When I said you were obtuse, I used that word not as an insult but as a carefully picked descriptor.  

    When you post high level opinions, thatís fine. What gets you into trouble is that you make legal conclusions.  

    To use a programming analogy, you write a bunch of C-like gobblygook and insist it will compile and when someone who knows how to program tells you itís gobblygook you start demanding that they walk you through your various lines of pseudo-code.  Itís impossible because you donít even have the basics down.What makes your posts damaging is that to a lay person, they can come across as credible because hey, you seem to be using a C-like syntax.

    Itís kind of like when you watch a movie that covers your area of expertise and they completely botch it but people walk out thinking ďoh yea, they could totally hack that computer that way...Ē simply because they used jargon that sounded right.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Zanthius on April 08, 2018, 06:17:21 pm
    Itís kind of like when you watch a movie that covers your area of expertise and they completely botch it but people walk out thinking ďoh yea, they could totally hack that computer that way...Ē simply because they used jargon that sounded right.

    Elestan seems like a rather intelligent/reasonable person, and I am sure that if you presented him with clear reasons about why he is wrong, he would understand and accept that.

    If you think that experts always are right, maybe you should read this article:

    Experts vs. Dart-Throwing Chimps (https://investingcaffeine.com/2012/07/08/experts-vs-dart-throwing-chimps/)

    (https://sidoxia.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/chimp-darts1.jpg)

    It is based upon the research to a guy that won the noble prize in economics, due to his research into cognitive biases. So if an appeal to authority is your best argument, there you have it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 06:24:28 pm
    It's not about an appeal to authority.  It is most definitely not in my best interest to walk him through all the ways he is wrong.

    Having spent most of my adult life having to be involved in some type of IP related litigation (and this is the first time we initiated a suit) I've gotten more than my fair share of first hand experience on how this works.

    So what would I point out to him? Everything.  Every legal conclusion I've seem him post is wrong. Even ones that favor us.  When this is all over in a few years, I will try to make a point of explaining the multiple flaws in every argument he's made and why they make no sense.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Zanthius on April 08, 2018, 06:31:09 pm
    It's not about an appeal to authority.  It is most definitely not in my best interest to walk him through all the ways he is wrong.

    Well, if you just showed him a few of the most important ways he is wrong, it would certainly seem to be more in your interest than to argue in this way....


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 06:41:25 pm
    When this is all over in a few years, I will try to make a point of explaining the multiple flaws in every argument he's made and why they make no sense.

    I'll look forward to it.  Just please keep in mind that I will be revising my opinions continuously as I learn more from the amended pleadings, new discovery, and (eventually) the court's rulings.  Hopefully I will have corrected many of the flaws myself by the time this is over.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 06:42:41 pm
    Opinions are fine. Legal conclusions are less fine.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 08, 2018, 06:47:20 pm
    To use a programming analogy, you write a bunch of C-like gobblygook and insist it will compile and when someone who knows how to program tells you itís gobblygook you start demanding that they walk you through your various lines of pseudo-code.  Itís impossible because you donít even have the basics down.What makes your posts damaging is that to a lay person, they can come across as credible because hey, you seem to be using a C-like syntax.

    The sign of a true expert is someone willing to educate one about the basics and explain the issues accurately with their expert knowledge, hence demonstrating their proficiency and showing what was wrong in one's assumptions.  When you refuse to do so because someone "cannot understand due to their lack of knowledge", then you do a disservice to everyone by purposefully leaving them in ignorance and you do a disservice to yourself by not exercising your knowledge when it could highlight the purpose of your  knowledge and value of such in society.  The sharing of this knowledge by an expert can help aid the expert in keeping their knowledge relevant and up to date via discovery of contradictions or changes that have happened since the knowledge was last exercised.

    I am a computer scientist by training and I have never withheld my knowledge from anyone because I thought they wouldn't understand.  I have spent hours educating those who are willing about the concepts I have learned and took considerable effort to relate them in different manners, examples, and methods to remedy their ignorance.  Through that process both parties have always been enriched.

    So, I do not understand this hording of knowledge over others to demean their honest quest to understand the situation.  There are people who are trying comprehend this situation to the best of their abilities and in the face of their honest struggle...  Supposed experts sit by and do nothing.  A situation has arisen to justify past efforts to acquire the experience and knowledge... and such is just being withheld, seemingly, contemptuously.

    This is a great opportunity to garner goodwill and understanding of a position, but instead there is standoff and dismissal.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 07:00:09 pm
    And pick one single line of the code, and tell them how a Ccode line would look like.

    e.g. variable dfinition and initial value setting:
    byte z; z=25;
    should be
    byte z=25;




    Again, the 1988 agreement. The interpretation does not require much knowledge of law, as the agreement is self-sufficient.
    How is Elestan's conclusion that the licensing agreement regarding selling/distribution of the games has ended wrong?
    Since I came to the same conclusion (independently), I would love to know which assumption I did wrong, which illogical step I thought was logical,...

    Well, Frogboy should not answer that, as this might publish Stardocks intended reasoning, but svs is free to comment on it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2018, 07:04:49 pm
    Opinions are fine. Legal conclusions are less fine.

    Everything I'm writing here is opinion.  Anything that sounds like a conclusion is just my current opinion on what conclusion I think fits best, based on my limited knowledge.  If you want to change my opinion, you can give me better information.  Or you can just listen and laugh to yourself at how embarrassed I'll be when the court case inevitably reveals the flaws in my thinking.  But repeatedly making non-specific attacks on me isn't going to accomplish anything except wasting people's time - and being a CEO, your time is probably at a higher billing rate than anyone else's here.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: tingkagol on April 08, 2018, 07:11:51 pm
    e]...and at this point, you've stepped over the line into ad hominem, and violated the posting rules of this forum.

    Straw man argument, sir.

    I'm glad to see you are acquainted with argumentative fallacies such as the Straw Man.  Let me point you to another, The Courtier's Reply (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply):
    Quote from: Wikipedia
    ...in which a respondent to criticism dismisses the arguments of the critic by claiming that the critic lacks sufficient knowledge, credentials, or training to credibly comment on the subject matter..

    Frogboy has twice (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77302#msg77302) tried (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77393#msg77393) to use this tactic against me here, and I asked the moderators not to take action against him for it, because I genuinely want to hear his perspectives.  But it's getting a little old, and having more people launching baseless attacks does not help the conversation.  If you want to provide constructive criticism or an entirely different well-reasoned perspective, I would welcome it, but otherwise, it would be best if you were not here.
    There's an abundance of ad hominem here lately. From outright dismissing the opinions of out-of-nowhere newbies and Elestan's lack of a law degree*. The person/originator does not matter. Attack the opinion not the person.

    * just found out about the "courtier" fallacy. Thanks.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 07:19:14 pm
    I am withholding my knowledge for what should be self-evident reasons.  This isn't an academic exercise for us.  

    Over the next 2 or 3 years you will be able to read documents on this on Pacer and look at how things got ruled on and the actual arguments made by actual lawyers.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 07:25:22 pm
    Quote
    There's an abundance of ad hominem here lately.

    Lately? Check out the very first page of this thread.

    It sometimes comes across that there are two sets of rules here.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Zanthius on April 08, 2018, 08:40:55 pm
    I am withholding my knowledge for what should be self-evident reasons.  This isn't an academic exercise for us.  

    Over the next 2 or 3 years you will be able to read documents on this on Pacer and look at how things got ruled on and the actual arguments made by actual lawyers.

    Okay, but why are you here at all then? It doesn't seem to serve much purpose to come here to tell others about how wrong they are without actually telling them how they are wrong.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 08, 2018, 08:57:14 pm
    I am withholding my knowledge for what should be self-evident reasons.  This isn't an academic exercise for us.  

    Over the next 2 or 3 years you will be able to read documents on this on Pacer and look at how things got ruled on and the actual arguments made by actual lawyers.

    Okay, but why are you here at all then? It doesn't seem to serve much purpose to come here to tell others about how wrong they are without actually telling them how they are wrong.

    Then why are you here?

    Edit:  I think I have contributed a lot to a discussion that most lawyers would tell you that I shouldn't be contributing at all.  But I value communicating with the community more than an optimal legal strategy.  But naturally, there are limitations.

    There is a big difference between someone having an opinion and someone making a legal conclusion.  I haven't had a problem with anything Krulle's writing whereas Elestan tends to write as if he's some sort of arbiter waiting for others to make legal arguments to him in order to post his legal conclusion when he's no more qualified to discuss it than my daughter.

    In a deposition, it is actually a no-no to ask a witness to make a legal conclusion. 

    Ok to ask: "Did he hit you?"

    Not ok to ask: "Do he commit assault?"

    This particular dispute has a complicated part and a not complicated part.  The 1988 agreement is complicated.  The trademark part is not.

    The follow-up question would be: Why is one complicated and the other is not? It's because each contract is unique and there are laws upon laws that govern the myriad of little bits.  By contrast, there are very clear, thoroughly litigated rules in place on trademarks.   The 1988 contract has never been litigated on.  Trademark infringement cases, by contrast, have been thousands upon thousands of times.












    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Zanthius on April 08, 2018, 09:08:50 pm
    In summary, I haven't seen a single post that looks like it was written by an actual lawyer who has any understanding of the applicable laws and I have read a whole lot of application of faulty knowledge of the law to facts that have been hand-selected by each of the respective parties.

    I kinda agree with you that I think this is a wasted conversation. We cannot necessarily (or shouldn't necessarily) make a trial here on this forum. This is why I haven't been so involved in this conversation. However, if other people feel like they want to have this conversation, they should of course be allowed to. Just because I think this is a wasted conversation, it doesn't necessarily mean that I have any right to deny other people to have this conversation.

    Anyhow. All conversations in this forum should have a certain level of intellectual probity I guess.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CessnaFighter on April 08, 2018, 09:18:36 pm
    Hi All,

    I again want to hand my support to frogboy on this matter. I mean if you look at the case from a far, think on how would you feel on the whole matter.

    I mean thinking on how P&F handled the whole starting of a new game,  knowing that Stardock had spent millions on their new game and as far as I have seen, they (Stardock) were very open towards P&F on the progress and development of their game. Stardock gave a lot of good options on how they could have proceeded together, which were declined.

    After years of doing that, I personally would be very frustrated and I really have to raise a hat for you on keeping it so calm in here.

    And yes l, I might be new to this forum and I donít have any legal experience. But this is my opinion.

    Really hope that you guys win the case and get to develop a kick ass game.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 08, 2018, 10:25:00 pm
    I value Frogboys input very much, and understand he is simply ignoring some open questions.

    But, regarding his argument that any Attorney tells you that this (Elestans and my conclusions) are not how trademark law works, when we discuss the alleged trademark infringement, and the status of the licensing part of the 1988 agreement is not helpful if no further arguments are brought forward.
    As most attorneys freely admit, an attorney gives you the opinion you pay him for.

    And while I fully understand Frogboy not answering some open questions, he's been most forward with a large part of the discussion.

    But others entering the discussion, and not bringing forward an argument while stating the other side is wrong for all of their conclusions, is making me question the motives.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CessnaFighter on April 08, 2018, 11:11:41 pm
    Indeed Krulle, you have valid points.

    Iím new in here. I really got to know that there is a ongoing dispute just few weeks back and I have been trying to visualise who is correct and who is not. I just think that it seemed so obvious that Stardockís approach was correct so it seemed a bit harsh to see the ďotherĒ side so strong in here.

    I definitely am with you on Elenstans approach and would really much like to see that level of discussion promoted on this matter, he is not taking a side without really looking into it and even though he might not be a lawyer, he sure is in a position to give an opinion. As I would think I am. And everyone else.

    Maybe in the end I was disappointed just overall on returning to such a great game which really changed my thinking of games and seeing that it is under a (sorry to say) childish dispute. I think both sides should have handled the whole matter more adult.

    Maybe this community could just focus on bringing back the project on building a sequel as open source ? :)

    Yeah.. Iíll just quietly sit and wait what happens on this and enjoy some Ur Quan Masters on the way ;)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 09, 2018, 12:40:48 am
    Quote
    There's an abundance of ad hominem here lately.

    Lately? Check out the very first page of this thread.

    It sometimes comes across that there are two sets of rules here.

    Would you like to be more specific? Two users have been warned for being aggressive against you, and two for being aggressive on your side. I have kept an eye on the kinds of criticism aimed at you, and to the best of my ability have applied the same requirements to both sides.

    So I would really like to know just what sets of rules you think are being applied.



    I just think that it seemed so obvious that Stardockís approach was correct so it seemed a bit harsh to see the ďotherĒ side so strong in here.

    I'm curious what seems so correct about attempting to trademark, say, Yehat.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 09, 2018, 01:35:11 am
    Speaking of court documents here's a great project that is helping gain access of information:  https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/

    They have a Firefox or Chrome extension that allows any documents from the PACER system to be duplicated to the CourtListener RECAP system:  https://free.law/recap/

    PACER works by charging $0.10 page, up to $3.00 per document.  Charges are totaled per quarter and total charges below $15.00 are waived.  It's a fresh quarter right now.

    The plugin will tag any document already in the RECAP archive when browsing PACER, too.  So collectively, we can grant access to everyone else out there.


    Current Court Listener Page:  https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 01:40:41 am
    If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    Brad, this is from some time ago, but the above two comments - both on the same page - show one of the sources of the major problems that prevent an amicable settlement between yourselves and F&P.

    In the second statement, you say that Stardock has "no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music".

    In your first statement, you talk as if it is only through your generosity/kindness that they aren't included in Star Control: Origins.  You said "If WE didn't want", as if it were an option.

    Those two positions are contradictory (unless, of course, you're advocating knowingly infringing on F&Ps copyright?).  It's statements like your first one that F&P fear the most: that you don't respect or acknowledge their 'ownership' of the Star Control/Star Control 2 story/characters, that somehow you think you have a say over their future - in effect, statements like your first one make it sound like you believe you have rights to their IP.  A number of Stardock's actions seem to reflect a view that you do in fact somehow own that IP (ie, the various trademark filings make for those characters/story elements - why would you trademark them if you believe the IP was owned by someone else?).

    And regardless of anything else that may be happening and/or they may have done to you, on the copyright ownership of the stories/characters I still believe F&P are legally in the right.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 01:52:58 am
    Those two positions are contradictory

    Not necessarily.  A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 02:13:32 am
    Those two positions are contradictory

    Not necessarily.  A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

    There's an interesting Forbes article here about the trademark vs copyright:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverherzfeld/2012/11/08/protecting-fictional-characters-could-you-legally-write-a-new-harry-potter-novel/#53eb3e5e2230

    I'd say an number of the aliens in Star Control 2 pass the 'distinctive' test pretty well (The Ur-Quan among them).  Some of the other, lesser developed or intentionally more 'generic' aliens (eg, Syreen) perhaps less so.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 09, 2018, 02:27:16 am
    From the USPTO site,  Basic Facts 02: Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cIBcl7dD4w#action=share


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 02:39:54 am
    If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    Brad, this is from some time ago, but the above two comments - both on the same page - show one of the sources of the major problems that prevent an amicable settlement between yourselves and F&P.

    In the second statement, you say that Stardock has "no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music".

    In your first statement, you talk as if it is only through your generosity/kindness that they aren't included in Star Control: Origins.  You said "If WE didn't want", as if it were an option.

    Those two positions are contradictory (unless, of course, you're advocating knowingly infringing on F&Ps copyright?).  It's statements like your first one that F&P fear the most: that you don't respect or acknowledge their 'ownership' of the Star Control/Star Control 2 story/characters, that somehow you think you have a say over their future - in effect, statements like your first one make it sound like you believe you have rights to their IP.  A number of Stardock's actions seem to reflect a view that you do in fact somehow own that IP (ie, the various trademark filings make for those characters/story elements - why would you trademark them if you believe the IP was owned by someone else?).

    And regardless of anything else that may be happening and/or they may have done to you, on the copyright ownership of the stories/characters I still believe F&P are legally in the right.

    There's no contradiction here.  Trademarks and copyrights are different things.  

    It was out of generosity that we didn't include the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc. in the new games.  They have no special rights to aliens with those names, only copyrights to the parts they can show they created.

    For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand. So yes, it was extremely generous that we didn't include aliens with those names.

    But as soon as they decided to try to cancel the Star Control trademark (and I've seen some interpretation that their intention is actually to simply claim it for themselves), essentially, an attempt to kill our project, I didn't see any reason to keep doing them any favors.  

    Future Star Control games will have the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc.  They will not contain anything that would violate any copyrights that Paul and Fred may have.  Our Spathi and Orz and such will be expressed very differently due to being in an obviously different universe.  

    They are welcome to oppose those trademarks just as they were welcome to try to cancel our Star Control trademark.  We will provide generous licensing terms for the use of our marks to encourage new games in what we refer to as the Ur-Quan universe though those terms will be less generous depending on their level of opposition.

    @Soul Reaver:  The distinctive test has nothing to do with the name. It is a test for the character (character names are not protected by copyright).  




    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 02:56:31 am
    Those two positions are contradictory

    Not necessarily.  A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

    Correct.  And only those creatures that Paul (or Fred) created. 

    Just as Paul and Fred didn't create the music or any copyright on it, there is no reason to believe they own, for example, anything about the Orz.  Or the Syreen, or any other alien in the game beyond lore and story that is considered distinctive enough to be covered under copyright. 

    In Paul's notes, I saw what appears to be a bit of their version of a Spathi.  What's interesting (and Paul and Fred alluded to this in one of their IRC chats) is that Accolade appeared to be trying to make their versions of the the aliens distinctive enough to fall outside the copyrights Paul and Fred might have.  For example, the Spathi in SC2 have what appear to be mechanical arms.  The Spathi in SC3 appear to have organic arms and look very different -- not in a good way.  I don't know if that was Accolade's intent or just...blech, part of the SC3 art direction.  But the IRC chats I read gave me the impression that Paul and Fred believed that Accolade was intentionally trying to move SC away from Paul and Fred's copyrights.  Not legally meaningful here but still interesting that Accolade seemed to go out of their way to make the aliens look so different.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 09, 2018, 03:11:00 am
    What's the point of the having the names of the alien races...  If they a NOT going to be the alien races people associate with the names?  Stardock can not represent the aliens races that people expect without infringing upon copyrights.  So... the names are going to be absolutely hollow terms that mean NOTHING to those who want those alien races.

    So... Why even trademark them?  They are not used in trade by Stardock as any kind of identifying marks on any product.  It seems the only reason Stardock wants the trademarks is to circumvent other parties use of the terms as a means of  gatekeeping and to circumvent copyright so Stardock can use the names falsely as trademarks rather than them being subjected to copyright examination via context of their use within a product.


    Stardock used the Star Control trademark against Fred and Paul.  So, Fred and Paul are trying to disarm the trademark club from Stardock.

    Cancellation of the Star Control trademark does not stop a game from being created.  It can still be titled, Star Control: Origins.  You cannot copyright titles.  Cancellation of the trademark just means no one can use it as a means of uniquely identifying the source of a good or service.  That's it.  Star Control: Origins can still exist without the Star Control trademark.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 03:25:01 am
    From the USPTO site,  Basic Facts 02: Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cIBcl7dD4w
    That was a bit more basic than we need here; fictional names seem to be relatively close to the border between trademark and copyright territory, so we need sources more specific to that topic.

    There's an interesting Forbes article here about the trademark vs copyright:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverherzfeld/2012/11/08/protecting-fictional-characters-could-you-legally-write-a-new-harry-potter-novel/#53eb3e5e2230

    Thank you; that led me to the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_protection_for_fictional_characters) that probably has the most information on the topic.  It's seeming like names are generally in trademark territory, but they are close enough to being copyrightable that they can qualify if they pass certain tests that (to me) look pretty subjective.  I'm also not clear on how the tests for particular fictional characters would translate into tests for fictional races.  What this leads me to think is that Paul&Fred might have some grounds to claim copyright on some of the races, but it's not a sure thing one way or the other, and might go different ways for different races.  In other words, it'll be a messy court fight, with the jury having to make a bunch of subjective calls.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 03:43:18 am
    A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.
    Correct.

    When you give me actionable information, I do update my views, and try to inform people appropriately.  Give me more, and see what happens.  :-)

    Quote
    And only those creatures that Paul (or Fred) created.

    ...or that were created by people who have assigned P&F the copyright, either long ago or recently.  I have to believe that they've been talking to all of the people who worked on the original project, and getting copyright assignments from any who are willing to provide them.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 03:44:24 am
    I think people associate names very strongly.  That's why trademarks are so valuable.

    In Galactic Civilizations we redesigned the aliens when we made the Windows version as we had much better visual capabilities by then.  Nobody cared that the Arceans and Drengin looked different.  The fans cared that the Arceans and Drengin were in the game.

    The Orz, Spathi, Ur-Quan are all very strongly associated with the Star Control brand.  It's not circumventing anyone's copyright.

    It is interesting how passionately you are willing to defend what appears to me to be naked maliciousness in trying to cancel the Star Control trademark while simultaneously condemning something that most fans of STAR CONTROL would want: The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in new Star Control games.  I also find it pretty amazing that you describe what happened as Stardock using its trademark against Paul and Fred. Wow.






    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 03:48:01 am
    A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.
    Correct.

    When you give me actionable information, I do update my views, and try to inform people appropriately.  Give me more, and see what happens.  :-)

    Quote
    And only those creatures that Paul (or Fred) created.

    ...or that were created by people who have assigned P&F the copyright, either long ago or recently.  I have to believe that they've been talking to all of the people who worked on the original project, and getting copyright assignments from any who are willing to provide them.


    Yea but I generally don't like giving you actionable stuff because every time I do, I get another hour in a lawyer's pain amplifying chair. ;)

    Now, at the risk of getting more pain amplification, I would assume that Paul and Fred have contacted all the artists they can to get any and all artist rights transferred to them. This is something I think they should do anyway regardless so that assuming they make new games in their universe they can do so unfettered from any copyright concerns.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 03:54:01 am
    If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  

    No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

    Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

    Brad, this is from some time ago, but the above two comments - both on the same page - show one of the sources of the major problems that prevent an amicable settlement between yourselves and F&P.

    In the second statement, you say that Stardock has "no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music".

    In your first statement, you talk as if it is only through your generosity/kindness that they aren't included in Star Control: Origins.  You said "If WE didn't want", as if it were an option.

    Those two positions are contradictory (unless, of course, you're advocating knowingly infringing on F&Ps copyright?).  It's statements like your first one that F&P fear the most: that you don't respect or acknowledge their 'ownership' of the Star Control/Star Control 2 story/characters, that somehow you think you have a say over their future - in effect, statements like your first one make it sound like you believe you have rights to their IP.  A number of Stardock's actions seem to reflect a view that you do in fact somehow own that IP (ie, the various trademark filings make for those characters/story elements - why would you trademark them if you believe the IP was owned by someone else?).

    And regardless of anything else that may be happening and/or they may have done to you, on the copyright ownership of the stories/characters I still believe F&P are legally in the right.

    There's no contradiction here.  Trademarks and copyrights are different things.  

    It was out of generosity that we didn't include the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc. in the new games.  They have no special rights to aliens with those names, only copyrights to the parts they can show they created.

    For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand. So yes, it was extremely generous that we didn't include aliens with those names.

    But as soon as they decided to try to cancel the Star Control trademark (and I've seen some interpretation that their intention is actually to simply claim it for themselves), essentially, an attempt to kill our project, I didn't see any reason to keep doing them any favors.  

    Future Star Control games will have the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc.  They will not contain anything that would violate any copyrights that Paul and Fred may have.  Our Spathi and Orz and such will be expressed very differently due to being in an obviously different universe.  

    They are welcome to oppose those trademarks just as they were welcome to try to cancel our Star Control trademark.  We will provide generous licensing terms for the use of our marks to encourage new games in what we refer to as the Ur-Quan universe though those terms will be less generous depending on their level of opposition.

    @Soul Reaver:  The distinctive test has nothing to do with the name. It is a test for the character (character names are not protected by copyright).  

    Oh, I realize that.  Unfortunately that might well backfire on you if you decide to go ahead with trademarking those names and then using a varient of the alien that doesn't infringe on copyright.

    You could quite concievably make a gregarious purple slug alien species and call it your newly-trademarked 'Ur-Quan' by name, and include it in your games.
    However, there are likely to be two main types of people interested in your Star Control games: new customers, and old fans.
    The new customers will not care whether the slugs are called Ur-Quan or Ugurz, so there's no benefit to you here.
    The old fans however may find it somewhat offensive that you're trying to 'pass off' the purple slug by the name of Ur-Quan (which, naturally, they associate with the older games - including an open-source release called 'The Ur-Quan Masters').  There's no benefit to you here either, and possibly only detriment.  The customers aren't stupid, they won't associate your purple slug with the Ur-Quan they knew and loved just becuase you slapped the same name on it.

    Naturally the differences between the designs may end up being more minor (just enough to skirt the copyright), but in either case it's likely to feel 'off' to old fans of the series (much like SC3 did to a lot of old fans back then).

    So the only real gain I could see for you is getting revenge on F&P.  Which, fankly, wouldn't really result in any material gain for you or the fans either.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 03:58:10 am
    I think people associate names very strongly.  That's why trademarks are so valuable.

    I disagree, at least in this case.  What I associate with the original game is the creative aspects of each race - their distinctive personalities, appearances, prejudices, and quirks.  If you call the P'kunk the K'punk, they still work just as well, but if you make them anything other than space hippie birds, you've totally changed the game.

    Quote
    It is interesting how passionately you are willing to defend what appears to me to be naked maliciousness in trying to cancel the Star Control trademark while simultaneously condemning something that most fans of STAR CONTROL would want: The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in new Star Control games.

    If such fans are like me (maybe they are, maybe they are not), this approach will backfire badly.  I don't think the fans want races that happen to have the same names as the SC2 ones.  I think they want the actual SC2 races, and will get quite upset if you hand them something that doesn't look or act like an Ur-Quan, and tell them it's an Ur-Quan.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 04:01:42 am
    General side note on copyright vs. trademark for those interested.  

    Let's talk about Harry Potter which has been subjected to a great deal of litigation.

    You might find this interesting:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_disputes_over_the_Harry_Potter_series

    Harry Potter is a pretty distinct character.  Lightning bolt scar, glasses, pretty specific backstory.  

    Now, if Harry Potter wasn't trademarked (and he is trademarked so don't think you can use that name in a new book) you could have a Harry Potter wizard character. But each step you take towards making him appear derivative...give him glasses...lightning bolt...mother killed by dark wizard while protecting him...lives with mean relative.s..and you are playing with fire.

    Now, the new Star Control will have Ur-Quan in it.  Make them green with 3 big eyes, 3 small eyes caterpillar creature wiht the same background and you're asking for trouble.

    But such re-designs are common.  Consider the Klingons.  Which matters more to a Star Trek fan?

    Klingons.
    (https://media.immediate.co.uk/volatile/sites/3/2017/09/Klingon-eras.jpg?quality=90&resize=620,413)






    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 04:02:53 am
    If such fans are like me (maybe they are, maybe they are not), this approach will backfire badly.  I don't think the fans want races that happen to have the same names as the SC2 ones.  I think they want the actual SC2 races, and will get quite upset if you hand them something that doesn't look or act like an Ur-Quan, and tell them it's an Ur-Quan.

    What makes a Klingon a Klingon?

    I have no idea what legal things are happening behind the scenes between CBS and Paramount.  But I suspect there's more to the radical changes in appearance and attitude in the Klingons than simply artistic license.

    Star Control III made enough changes to some of the aliens that they'd probably past muster.   That's not a complement of the SC3 character designs however.. ;)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 04:11:00 am
    Yea but I generally don't like giving you actionable stuff because every time I do, I get another hour in a lawyer's pain amplifying chair. ;)

    The way I see it, if I'm getting basic IP concepts as badly wrong as you've said, you should be able to correct me without saying anything that P&F's lawyers didn't learn in law school.  That should get you out of chair time.  :)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 04:12:59 am
    I mentioned GalCiv earlier.

    Altarians in GalCiv for OS/2:
    (http://www.stardock.com/products/gcgold/gcg71.jpg)

    Altarians in GalCiv for Windows:
    (http://www.galciv2.com/screenshots/gameplay/humans54.jpg)

    Altarians in GalCiv III for Windows
    (https://draginol.stardock.net/images2014/Galactic-Civilizations-III-Everything-yo_DF11/image_thumb_21.png)

    Despite having millions of fans, they didn't really care how the re-designs.  I remember being..not super happy that they changed the Altarians in GalCiv III because I was certain the fans would riot.  They didn't care.  They're still the most popular non-human civ.

    Full line up from 1992:
    (http://www.os2ezine.com/v1n2/galciv1.gif)

    When GalCiv III didn't include the Korx though, people were upset.  Some people claimed they wouldn't buy the game because of no Korx even though they were basically a Ferengi clone and only showed up in GalCiv II for Windows.

    See the race above listed as "Empire"? That's the Arcean Empire.

    Here's how they look now:
    (https://www.pcgamesn.com/sites/default/files/galactic%20civilizations%203%202-5%20update.jpg)




    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 04:16:50 am
    Yea but I generally don't like giving you actionable stuff because every time I do, I get another hour in a lawyer's pain amplifying chair. ;)

    The way I see it, if I'm getting basic IP concepts as badly wrong as you've said, you should be able to correct me without saying anything that P&F's lawyers didn't learn in law school.  That should get you out of chair time.  :)

    Well here's a free one: You can't copyright a name.  The more distinctive the name is, the stronger its trademark could be but it means nothing for copyright.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 04:30:00 am
    I think people associate names very strongly.  That's why trademarks are so valuable.

    In Galactic Civilizations we redesigned the aliens when we made the Windows version as we had much better visual capabilities by then.  Nobody cared that the Arceans and Drengin looked different.  The fans cared that the Arceans and Drengin were in the game.

    The Orz, Spathi, Ur-Quan are all very strongly associated with the Star Control brand.  It's not circumventing anyone's copyright.

    It is interesting how passionately you are willing to defend what appears to me to be naked maliciousness in trying to cancel the Star Control trademark while simultaneously condemning something that most fans of STAR CONTROL would want: The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in new Star Control games.  I also find it pretty amazing that you describe what happened as Stardock using its trademark against Paul and Fred. Wow.

    The fact that you think that simply using the NAME Ur-Quan somehow equates to actually having 'the ur-quan in new star control games' shows a disappointing lack of understanding.

    When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devastating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

    You say Ur-Quan, that's what I see, and chances are this is the Ur-Quan you cannot use.  And if you put something else in the game and call it Ur-Quan and I'd wonder if you think I'm some kind of moron.

    But hey, maybe you're right!  Maybe people are morons.  Yours wouldn't be the first marketing strategy predicated on that assumption.

    The truth is that I'm not even convinced F&P can pull off a narrative sequel to SC2 story either.  To capture that nebulous "right feel" without outright recreating what has gone before is hard enough even if it's the same creators in the same time period - let alone after such a long time has elapsed.  People often feel the need to explain every mystery and fill in every blank, forgetting that it was those mysteries and blanks that made the original universe feel so much larger and more alive.

    Personally I think the path you took with Origins - coming up with your own original aliens and plot - is probably the better one for you to follow rather than trying to shoehorn in names without the associated characteristics.

    (Also, after 2 minutes of googling: https://forums.galciv3.com/456357/request-give-us-the-old-altarians)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 09, 2018, 04:45:25 am
    I think the fans have expectations of the roles different aliens will have.  

    Most fans would expect a visual update after 25 years. That doesnít make them ďmoronsĒ.

    Did fans accept the Klingons in Star Trek the motion picture? Yes. The only thing they have in common with the TOS is the name. It doesnít make the fans ďmoronsĒ.





    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 05:13:36 am
    Despite having millions of fans, they didn't really care how the re-designs.  I remember being..not super happy that they changed the Altarians in GalCiv III because I was certain the fans would riot.  They didn't care.  They're still the most popular non-human civ.

    When GalCiv III didn't include the Korx though, people were upset.  Some people claimed they wouldn't buy the game because of no Korx even though they were basically a Ferengi clone and only showed up in GalCiv II for Windows.

    As I understand it, your plans would legally require you to alter the SC2 races until they no longer bear substantial similarity to the originals.  That's not just a visual update; it's a much deeper change.  How would your players react if your next GalCiv kept the names the same, but made the Altarans into a race of barbaric warmongers, and made the Korx into hippie peaceniks?  I suspect not well.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 05:13:42 am
    I think the fans have expectations of the roles different aliens will have.  

    Most fans would expect a visual update after 25 years. That doesnít make them ďmoronsĒ.

    Did fans accept the Klingons in Star Trek the motion picture? Yes. The only thing they have in common with the TOS is the name. It doesnít make the fans ďmoronsĒ.

    There have been heaps of attempts by fans - and series creators - to reconcile those differences in a narrative way.  They notice this - and feel the need to reconcile it - precisely because they are not morons.  It bothers them unless they can find an explanation.

    Certain allowances are also made for technology (which audiences do understand to an extent).  If I play Warcraft 3 I don't expect the Orcs to be pixellated 2D sprites.  I do however expect them to be green and burly.  If they're not, there had better be some sort of narrative reason why they changed, otherwise I'll start to wonder why they suddenly changed.

    Looking at your GalCiv pictures, I would be wondering that exact thing about the design changes.

    I can't see why the artists changed the Arcean Empire to a big green mostly human dude from what looks (in the admittedly small and pixellated picture) like some sort of green bug man.  There's no reason you couldn't have done a big green bug man, but with better graphics.  Personally it would have bothered me, and make me wonder why the artists didn't just stick to the original design.

    But I write stories and as such am pretty OCD about things like internal consistency, continuity and so on.  Not everyone may share my view.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 09, 2018, 05:19:36 am
    I think people associate names very strongly.  That's why trademarks are so valuable.

    Indeed.  People identify things with names.  And I will agree that trademarks are valuable.

    Quote
    In Galactic Civilizations we redesigned the aliens when we made the Windows version as we had much better visual capabilities by then.  Nobody cared that the Arceans and Drengin looked different.  The fans cared that the Arceans and Drengin were in the game.

    But, I would question what response such a OS/2 to Windows drastic change would garner today.  After the OS/2 transition, most of the appearances seem to derive from each other.

    You can look at the progression of the Drengin and can make a valid argument that Early GalCiv III Kona is directly derivative of Early 90s Kona: https://forums.galciv3.com/450345/the-evolution-of-the-drengin  Most of the core aspects that characterizes the Drengin have not changed drastically.  The representation of the concept of Drengin has not drastically changed.  No matter where you start on that scale, someone who becomes familiar with one can be shown the others and will recognize them a Drengin.  When it comes to copyright, these are the thing that are examined.

    Quote
    The Orz, Spathi, Ur-Quan are all very strongly associated with the Star Control brand.  It's not circumventing anyone's copyright.
    Association?  Yes.  Highly.  But as a trademark, a mark that denotes the source of a good or service?  I disagree.

    In way it can possible circumvent a copyright.  If you claim you are referring to your trademark when talking about race names within product, you can effectively step around the context such unique names would normally fall under with copyright.  It has been shown to interfere with referencing copyrighted work, at this point I would be curious as to what else it could be manipulated for.

    Quote
    It is interesting how passionately you are willing to defend what appears to me to be naked maliciousness in trying to cancel the Star Control trademark while simultaneously condemning something that most fans of STAR CONTROL would want: The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in new Star Control games.  I also find it pretty amazing that you describe what happened as Stardock using its trademark against Paul and Fred. Wow.

    Let's break it down.  The attempt to cancel the Star Control trademark, I see as a defensive measure on the part of Fred and Paul.  Stardock filed the claim, first, as of December 8, 2017.  The counter-claim was filed by Fred and Paul, later, as of February 22, 2018.  So, this is roughly two months of them trying to figure what they are going to do.  Even if they fend of this trademark infringement claim...  What's to stop it from happening again?  What's the best way to prevent someone from hitting you with a stick?  Get rid of the stick.  It's NOT an attack of Stardock's creation of Star Control: Origins.  It's a means to disarm the Star Control trademark, so they cannot be harmed by it again.  This is a defensive measure.  All canceling the trademark would do is force Stardock to come up with a more defined trademark to use:  "Stardock's Star Control" or stylized "Star Control" over the Stardock logo in the background.  That's it.  Stardock can still have a Star Control game, just with nice logo as the trademark instead of a general text mark.

    People want The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc in a new game...  But if you have to create appearances, personalities, and more that cannot be considered derivative of a copyrighted work, then they are only going to be names... assigned to completely different aliens.  People have associated a lot to the alien names as their identities.  Cowardly Spathi, strictly business Melnorme, overlording Ur-Quan, and more...  What good are the names if they cannot be properly associated with the proper representations?

    And Stardock is using the Star Control trademark against Fred and Paul.  Stardock filed a claim against Fred and Paul stating many trademark law violations.  Stardock is invoking the litigation allowed by having the Star Control trademark to file a federal claim against Fred and Paul.  When a party files a claim, it does so against another party.

    I was pretty much at the sidelines even with the initial claim.  I thought "Well dammit...  Looks like they got to sort things out and draw up the boundaries a bit clearer."  Then...  Stardock filed "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark.  That is when I started questioning everything Stardock was doing, because that did not and still does not make sense under the assumption of good faith.  When there's a dispute about trademarks...  why do you file for a trademark a little over a week after filing a claim (December 14, 2017)?  Now the trademark filings for the alien races' names pushed me well away from Stardock side.  Why?  Fred and Paul filed their counter-claim and 4 days later...  Trademark filings for the alien races' names were filed (February 26, 2018).  So in the starting procedures to even determine the validity of both sides' various rights...  Stardock is filing behind the scenes.  That is some dirty pool right there.

    If Stardock hadn't filed for anymore trademarks, I wouldn't have much of an issue with Stardock.  You bought the Star Control trademark.  You are using it as brand and have established its presence.  Neat.  I still think filing a trademark infringement lawsuit was overkill, but should be easy to settle.


    Title: P&F First Amended Response
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 05:42:59 am
    Just as a public service announcement, P&F's first amended response is now available here (https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/37/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii).  I skimmed through it, but did not notice any substantive changes from their original response; it mainly seems to be minor edits to keep it in sync with Stardock's first amended complaint.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: llamaparlante on April 09, 2018, 06:04:42 am
    When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devestating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

    I just want to say that I like the way you wrote this, I really imagined what you said. You are a writer? If you are not, you should write a book about The Ur-Quan Masters.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 09, 2018, 07:02:15 am
    When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devestating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

    I just want to say that I like the way you wrote this, I really imagined what you said. You are a writer? If you are not, you should write a book about The Ur-Quan Masters.

    Thank you!  Stories are important to me.  I have a Masters in Media Studies and I write stories and design games as a hobby.  I've designed and written a full-custom mod for Warcraft 3 (you can find the manual/lorebook here: http://www.warpstormstudios.com/tothebitterend/Files/TTBEManual.pdf), have spent many years contributing to a fantasy/sci tandem story, and I'm currently writing a gamebook.

    None based on UQM I'm afraid...


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: kaminiwa on April 09, 2018, 07:53:45 am
    Compare that to say Kaminawa. No history. No evidence of having posted anywhere. Could just be a lurker using a different handle. Could also be an interested partyís daughter wanting to participate under an alias.  

    I've been on Reddit for five years, and if you can't find evidence of me posting anywhere elsewhere it speaks rather poorly of you.  I'll admit I don't discuss Star Control much anymore. If anyone here is old enough to remember the ancient 90s/00s Star Control 2 RPG forums, I was much more active back then as "goto-10" *waves at any super old-school fans*

    I've no relationship to any of the interested parties - I'm just an old fan of the series. I've played out a few collaborations with other fans to tell various versions of the story, so I've got nothing against the idea of Stardock throwing their own ideas in to the multiverse - but I've also spent the last couple of decades hoping that someday we'd finally get the sequel Paul & Fred always talked about making. When Stardock announced Ghost of the Precursors, I got excited and started drifting back towards this community.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Mormont on April 09, 2018, 11:49:21 am
    Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_protection_for_fictional_characters) that probably has the most information on the topic.  It's seeming like names are generally in trademark territory, but they are close enough to being copyrightable that they can qualify if they pass certain tests that (to me) look pretty subjective.  I'm also not clear on how the tests for particular fictional characters would translate into tests for fictional races.  What this leads me to think is that Paul&Fred might have some grounds to claim copyright on some of the races, but it's not a sure thing one way or the other, and might go different ways for different races.  In other words, it'll be a messy court fight, with the jury having to make a bunch of subjective calls.

    Addendum 3 said that Reiche owned the alien names:

    Quote
    The Reiche Intellectual Property shall include proprietary rights in and to...names (of Starships and races)...in and to (a) - (d) above.

    IANAL, but however we parse out the copyright and trademark boundaries Accolade certainly seems to have thought they needed his permission to use the names.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 09, 2018, 04:08:03 pm
    Addendum 3 said that Reiche owned the alien names:
    Quote
    The Reiche Intellectual Property shall include proprietary rights in and to...names (of Starships and races)...in and to (a) - (d) above.

    IANAL, but however we parse out the copyright and trademark boundaries Accolade certainly seems to have thought they needed his permission to use the names.

    Nice find.  The question I'd have about it is whether this is saying "Reiche owns the names, and is licensing them to us", or "Whatever names Reiche owns, he's licensing them to us".  In other words, is it an acknowledgement that Reiche owned the names, or just catch-all language to ensure that if Reiche did own the names, they were included in the license grant?  If the latter, then it falls back to the earlier agreement to see what rights to names Reiche had.

    There, if names are only trademarkable, not copyrightable, then 11.5 in the original agreement says that any trademarks are the property of the publisher.  Stardock seems to be putting a twist into things by applying this to common law trademarks, which might include the race names.  But I suspect that when this was written, the parties were really only thinking of the primary product name ("Star Control").

    My (non-lawyer) understanding of contract law is that the court will try to determine the intent of the parties when the agreement was signed.  I wonder if any of the original people on Accolade's side might get called upon to say what their intent was.

    By the way, if anyone here happens to have access to a good OCR system, it would be amazingly helpful to OCR Exhibits 1-4 in P&F's amended response (https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/?order_by=desc).  They're currently only available as graphical PDFs, so cut and paste from them isn't possible.  They're in what looks to be a standard fixed-width font (Courier?), so hopefully OCR wouldn't have too hard a time with them.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Lakstoties on April 09, 2018, 04:54:25 pm
    There, if names are only trademarkable, not copyrightable, then 11.5 in the original agreement says that any trademarks are the property of the publisher.  Stardock seems to be putting a twist into things by applying this to common law trademarks, which might include the race names.  But I suspect that when this was written, the parties were really only thinking of the primary product name ("Star Control").

    "Star Control" is the only registered trademark from Accolade, hence it would have been the ONLY trademark to have survived the lack of active use and the bankruptcy of Atari.  From what I've read up so far, common law trademarks are practically non-transferable in this situation.  They have extremely limited and very regional protections that are very fragile at best and are granted no federal level protections, and have to be in constant in use to keep remotely alive.

    For example, "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark filing should easily be undone by the existence of this very website, as it has been actively using the mark as a brand well before Stardock's filing.  And that's all it takes to undo even a federal registered mark, is demonstration of active use before the filing.  Since the ownership of "The Ur-Quan Masters" was never established officially via registration, Stardock could only maybe cite it's use with GOG.com sales as it's earliest use, (despite the fact it was just a subtitle after their registered mark) but...  Technically, Fred and Paul were using it before Stardock with their GOG.com agreement  and even before that ...  So, Stardock has very little to stand on in that regard, as any other party's prior use before their cited use could invalidate the trademark.  Reference:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qzZL2yfUgI&feature=youtu.be

    So the attempt to register the alien names by Stardock is very strange, since...  Well, Fred and Paul and the The Ur-Urquan Masters project have precedence over Stardock, since they've been jointly distributing a product that uses the names actively well before Stardock even had a chance to buy anything from Atari and have been actively doing so well before Atari/GOG.com/Fred and Paul did a joint distribution deal through GOG.com.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: bum783 on April 09, 2018, 06:14:24 pm
    If you cannot. You should STOP "acting" like you are some form of attorney. You are nothing but a troll throwing out garbage.

    Frogboy said you have been on his forum for 11 years. Have you not been able to figure out what this type of outlet is used for?
    engaging into a discussion about law while not being a lawyer is what public forums are generally used for. Similarly to talk radio people will talk about sports teams without actually being a professional athlete. They will talk about politics without being a politician, or  talk about cooking without being a chef. I wont go on but the parenting forums are mind numbing LOL. Certain forms of media like discussion forums are acceptable outlets for opinion and potentially false conjecture. Its implied that the poster may not have the knowledge or qualifications to offer advice, legal or otherwise. Users should be and usually are aware of this (with some exceptions of highly moderated forums with qualified employees being the only people responding) Not only is Elestans posts par for the course in this form of media, they are fairly expected. By definition your post demanding a different behavior is more of a troll job than anything Elestan has posted.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 09, 2018, 07:53:24 pm
    If you cannot. You should STOP "acting" like you are some form of attorney. You are nothing but a troll throwing out garbage.

    Frogboy said you have been on his forum for 11 years. Have you not been able to figure out what this type of outlet is used for?
    engaging into a discussion about law while not being a lawyer is what public forums are generally used for. Similarly to talk radio people will talk about sports teams without actually being a professional athlete. They will talk about politics without being a politician, or  talk about cooking without being a chef. I wont go on but the parenting forums are mind numbing LOL. Certain forms of media like discussion forums are acceptable outlets for opinion and potentially false conjecture. Its implied that the poster may not have the knowledge or qualifications to offer advice, legal or otherwise. Users should be and usually are aware of this (with some exceptions of highly moderated forums with qualified employees being the only people responding) Not only is Elestans posts par for the course in this form of media, they are fairly expected. By definition your post demanding a different behavior is more of a troll job than anything Elestan has posted.

    Fair enough, Elestan can discuss it. It doesn't mean that I can't discuss how Elestan doesn't have any basis in knowledge or facts for his conclusory statements.

    Elestan doesn't actually know the relevant law at issue (it takes years of practicing in this field to have a decent grasp of the subject) and doesn't actually know the complete body of facts (at this point, no party has access to all the facts - much less a non-party to the dispute). Elestan's conclusions are mere conjecture. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Elestan's statements are being given any weight by any person. I'd have no issue if Elestan discussed what is clearly his opinion on what he'd like to happen or should happen. My quibble is that Elestan makes statements that are conclusive as to the legal outcome of specific issues in dispute with just enough legal terminology thrown into his posts to make the reader think Elestan knows what he is talking about.

    I think there will be a great many *shocked* individuals on this forum by the time this dispute is resolved if they rely on Elestan's judgments.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: bum783 on April 09, 2018, 09:45:49 pm
    Fair enough, Elestan can discuss it. It doesn't mean that I can't discuss how Elestan doesn't have any basis in knowledge or facts for his conclusory statements.

    Elestan doesn't actually know the relevant law at issue (it takes years of practicing in this field to have a decent grasp of the subject) and doesn't actually know the complete body of facts (at this point, no party has access to all the facts - much less a non-party to the dispute).

    Frogboy, you, Elestan himself, and im sure many many others have pretty much made that clear

    In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Elestan's statements are being given any weight by any person.

    Who cares if someone "gives them weight"  nobody here has any impact on the outcome of the case. Its all just talk. I also don't think anyone here is so impacted by his statements that they suddenly wont buy Origins if they had originally intended to buy it...... I know I wont, in fact the more Frogboy talks about Origins the more excited I am about it.

    I'd have no issue if Elestan discussed what is clearly his opinion on what he'd like to happen or should happen. My quibble is that Elestan makes statements that are conclusive as to the legal outcome of specific issues in dispute with just enough legal terminology thrown into his posts to make the reader think Elestan knows what he is talking about.

    Its exactly what you just said CLEARLY his opinion. When it is CLEARLY an opinion (and it is pretty clear) I can tolerate a little conclusiveness to his statements.
    With that said Im sure Frogboy is a little irritated with the non stop back and forth, but either way I dont think Elestans contributions to the the discussion are being taken as matter of factly by the people here as you think they are


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: astkr5 on April 09, 2018, 10:03:12 pm
    I think Elestan has hedged more or less every claim he's made with the caveat that he's not a lawyer and that his analysis is based purely on public documents and information. I don't see why he should be castigated for looking at the information in front of all of us and reasoning to the best of his ability (and sharing his outlook). I don't see anyone being misled.

    So while I thank for your concern, svs, I think we're all adults here -- we can decide for ourselves how much weight to put in Elestan's point of view. If it consoles your anxiety, though, I certainly do include the possibility he is fully wrong on many counts (as, it seems, does he) and I can assure you I for one have the emotional wherewithal to withstand the disappointment of being mildly surprised should the dispute resolve itself in some fashion altogether different.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 10, 2018, 06:21:50 am
    Altarians in GalCiv for OS/2:
    (http://www.stardock.com/products/gcgold/gcg71.jpg)

    [...snip...]

    Full line up from 1992:
    (http://www.os2ezine.com/v1n2/galciv1.gif)
    If I had been a fan of the original OS/2 GalCiv, I think my reaction to the Windows version would likely have been some variant of "Why did they change all these alien races from interesting and diverse species to reskinned humans?" Based solely on the examples you've posted there, I have to conclude that the OS/2 GalCiv is probably the best GalCiv; the newer aliens are just not interesting at all.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 11, 2018, 03:30:38 am
    Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

    I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.
    Interesting, as I have not yet seen anywhere that the product will be sold.
    I know, this is fa fetched, but I already once wrote I'd love to know the scope of the intended GotP project...

    Marketing is also a very broad concept.
    Advertisement and marketing are different, for the purpose of law. And the cited passage goes about advertisement, not marketing.
    Nit-picking. But that will the lawyers be doing in the end.

    TBH...

    I think it's a stretch to assume that P&F are going to spend hundreds of hours creating a "true sequel" to Star Control 2 only to give it away for free. I mean, I suppose technically you can make the argument that they announced a brand new game after 25 years, immediately associated it with the beloved previous game that they had indeed sold, and that isn't definitive proof that they're planning on charging money (in some fashion or another) for the next game...

    ...but I'd consider that to be a bit of a reach just IMHO.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 11, 2018, 03:43:25 am
    Those two positions are contradictory

    Not necessarily.  A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

    And that would be confusing as hell.

    I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

    I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 11, 2018, 04:36:24 am
    A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

    And that would be confusing as hell.

    I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

    I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?

    I agree with you.  When Frogboy stated:
    For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand.

    In my opinion, this is slanting the picture to fit Stardock's legal narrative.  I value the personality, backstory, and appearance of the SC2 aliens (in that order) far more than their names, and I suspect that is true of most fans of SC2 - they don't want races called 'Orz' and 'Syreen'; they want "The Orz" and "The Syreen" from SC2.  I suppose we could do a poll on /r/starcontrol to see what a larger sampling thinks.

    Future Star Control games will have the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc.  They will not contain anything that would violate any copyrights that Paul and Fred may have.  Our Spathi and Orz and such will be expressed very differently due to being in an obviously different universe.

    From a bit of reading, it seems like one of the reasons that it's hard to prosecute claims of 'substantial similarity' is that it's pretty hard to prove that one work was really derived from another.  But in this case, Stardock would be putting the aliens in a similar game under the same name as the one the original races came from, and Brad has explicitly said that he's doing it to please the fans of the original races.  To me (as a non-lawyer), that would make it hard to credibly argue that any similarly there might be isn't derived from the original.  It seems like they'd almost be forced to make them radically different, just to make sure they weren't too similar.

    I'm really struggling to see what Stardock gains by using the original names, given the restrictions they'd be under.  They could choose a fresh new name, and have total creative freedom to tell a great story without worrying about any legal consequences.  Instead, this course would anger a lot of the old fans, while tying their own hands creatively.  I just don't find it credible that there are enough people who only care about having the names to justify going this way...which, unfortunately, leaves me grasping for any explanation for it other than spitefulness.  I really hope Stardock will reconsider.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 11, 2018, 04:54:33 am
    A recent discussion (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7015.msg77503#msg77503) here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

    And that would be confusing as hell.

    I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

    I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?

    I agree with you.  When Frogboy stated:
    For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand.

    In my opinion, this is slanting the picture to fit Stardock's legal narrative.  I value the personality, backstory, and appearance of the SC2 aliens (in that order) far more than their names, and I suspect that is true of most fans of SC2 - they don't want races called 'Orz' and 'Syreen'; they want "The Orz" and "The Syreen" from SC2.  I suppose we could do a poll on /r/starcontrol to see what a larger sampling thinks.

    I suspect you're right on this. I can't comment on the legality question but from what Frogboy is saying, it sounds like he believes Stardock can make a race called "The Spathi" or "The Orz" so long as they are substantially dissimilar to the versions of those races that existed in Star Control 2.

    There's even a pretty good setup on how to go about this. The whole "many universes" thing that Origins is predicted upon can be pretty easily reused as a narrative explanation for any differences between SC2 versions of a particular race and how they would be used in a future game. It's how different that they'd have to be to pass legal muster that makes me wonder the value of having them.

    On the other hand, I COULD potentially see some fun ways to play around with it depending on how the legal proceedings play out. For example, what if the Ur-Quan had never found the Dynarri? The Ur-Quan's appearance could be radically changed (back to their original brown for instance before the Dynarri tampered with them) and so would their background, history and, most importantly, personality. So would the entire galaxy's history really. There's a lot of fun "what if" scenarios that could be explored by the many universes concept.

    But it really depends on just how dissimilar the new versions of the races would have to be to avoid infringing on stuff that belongs (allegedly) to P&F. If they have to be so dissimilar that they are effectively just some brand new race that happens to have the same name as one that the fanbase associates with something completely different slapped onto them then I don't think that will work.

    If, on other hand, they don't have to be changed to that extent then it certainly opens up quite a few possibilities in conjunction with the many universes approach.

    Edit: The idea that the Dynarri are actually found thousands of years later than they were in the canon of SC2 when the Ur-Quan are basically the leaders of the Sentient Milieu and Earthlings are just now starting to discover warp travel is a pretty fun idea. The Dynarri could be the "big bad" of a new game with the Ur-Quan, and not the Chenjesu or the Chmmr, serving as the leaders of the good guys.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: tingkagol on April 11, 2018, 05:30:48 am
    I'm really struggling to see what Stardock gains by using the original names, given the restrictions they'd be under.  They could choose a fresh new name, and have total creative freedom to tell a great story without worrying about any legal consequences.  Instead, this course would anger a lot of the old fans, while tying their own hands creatively.  I just don't find it credible that there are enough people who only care about having the names to justify going this way...which, unfortunately, leaves me grasping for any explanation for it other than spitefulness.  I really hope Stardock will reconsider.
    Applying occam's razor: Legal retaliation. In my eyes, that's all it is really.

    All other justifications are just unconvincing for the reasons already mentioned in this thread.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: lostsoul on April 11, 2018, 06:43:23 am
    they should just make the game anyways...make all their glorious plans within the game...give all the races, places generic names...release modding tools...let the modders fill in the correct names...problem solved...maybe.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Krulle on April 11, 2018, 09:14:49 am
    Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

    I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.
    Interesting, as I have not yet seen anywhere that the product will be sold.
    I know, this is fa fetched, but I already once wrote I'd love to know the scope of the intended GotP project...

    Marketing is also a very broad concept.
    Advertisement and marketing are different, for the purpose of law. And the cited passage goes about advertisement, not marketing.
    Nit-picking. But that will the lawyers be doing in the end.

    TBH...

    I think it's a stretch to assume that P&F are going to spend hundreds of hours creating a "true sequel" to Star Control 2 only to give it away for free. I mean, I suppose technically you can make the argument that they announced a brand new game after 25 years, immediately associated it with the beloved previous game that they had indeed sold, and that isn't definitive proof that they're planning on charging money (in some fashion or another) for the next game...

    ...but I'd consider that to be a bit of a reach just IMHO.
    I fully agreee, that it would be a long stretch, and I am pretty sure that there is US case-law which indicates that what FF and PR3 did can be considered to be advertisement.
    But there is no game to market yet, not even an "early subscriptor" or "kick starting money collection" going on or announced for the near future.
    Just that a game is in its "very early development status".

    @lostsoul: if the intention is clear, and the amendment gets hosted on their site, they'll be infringing copyrights.
    But who really cares. The UQM fanbase is small, and most players of SC:Origins willl never have played UQM, and are too young to have fond memories of it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 11, 2018, 02:13:57 pm
    But who really cares. The UQM fanbase is small, and most players of SC:Origins willl never have played UQM, and are too young to have fond memories of it.

    You know who cares. We do, the hardcore fans. And while it's hardly news that most game developers do not consider the hardcore fans their main target audience, I find it utterly disgusting that Brad Wardell is willing to disregard our wishes so openly (even if he and Stardock are going to give us exactly what we want gameplay-wise - building your own ships and planets is awesome!). My personal opinion is that the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. should follow the UQM lore as closely as possible, and should only be present as part of the Ur-Quan story, or not at all. I won't accept any substitutes. No cranky humanoids called the Ur-Quan, please. As other posters have pointed out, it was already bad enough in GalCiv, but, unless I'm mistaken, GalCiv didn't have a long detailed story associated with each race, while SC2/UQM does.

    And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Deus Siddis on April 11, 2018, 04:14:46 pm
    And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

    Well you are talking about a third of a million dollars of their personal money. Buying it with TfB funds would likely require activision's approval and invite their continued intervention in the project.

    And what would they be buying for all that money anyway? Just the name of the game? If the rest of the rights passed back to them due to lack of sales in the pre-GOG days as it currently mostly seems, then that is indeed quite a hefty price.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 11, 2018, 05:03:19 pm
    And what would they be buying for all that money anyway? Just the name of the game? If the rest of the rights passed back to them due to lack of sales in the pre-GOG days as it currently mostly seems, then that is indeed quite a hefty price.

    Well, Brad seems to be convinced that Stardock is entitled to trademark "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Spathi", "Syreen" and the rest just because they own the Star Control trademark, and thus to restrict Fred and Paul's use of their own copyrighted work. He also believes that the 1988 agreement is still fully in effect, and is determined to prove it in court. And just see what lengths Stardock goes to just to convince the fans that Origins is a real continuation of the classic Star Control series, not an independent work that just happens to bear the Star Control name. If F&P had the Star Control trademark, none of this would have happened.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 11, 2018, 05:07:47 pm
    And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

    I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.  With hindsight, I would put their mistake further back:  I think that they should have clearly publicized their ownership of the copyright and publishing rights prior to the Atari auction to ensure that nobody would think those rights were being sold.  That wouldn't have cost them anything, and it would have prevented any later misunderstandings.  It also would have probably depressed the price, such that if Stardock had still bought the trademark, selling it back to them "at cost" might have only been $100k instead of $300k-$400k.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 11, 2018, 10:32:03 pm
    Is there publicly available information about P&F's net worth? I realize that's a bit of an impolite and insensitive question, but I'm curious as to just how big a financial investment/risk it would have been for them to acquire the rights to SC when Stardock offered to sell them at cost. I have not gotten the impression that they are particularly wealthy.

    Certainly the money angle from the opposite side is not immaterial to all this. Per Frogboy, Stardock has spent $7M making SCO.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 11, 2018, 10:53:39 pm
    Is there publicly available information about P&F's net worth? I realize that's a bit of an impolite and insensitive question, but I'm curious as to just how big a financial investment/risk it would have been for them to acquire the rights to SC when Stardock offered to sell them at cost. I have not gotten the impression that they are particularly wealthy.

    They're private citizens, so I doubt there is much information to be had.  Obviously, Skylanders has been known to be pretty successful, but that money gets split a lot of ways, so Toys4Bob would have only gotten a small piece of it, and P&F would have only personally gotten a piece of that piece.  It's also important to note that this offer came in 2013, so they'd only been doing Skylanders for a few years.

    I would guess that at least part of the timing of their GotP announcement was down to when they finally decided that they had built up enough money to be able to hire the team they're going to need, and do without income themselves for several years while they made the new game.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 12, 2018, 01:04:16 am
    And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

    I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.  With hindsight, I would put their mistake further back:  I think that they should have clearly publicized their ownership of the copyright and publishing rights prior to the Atari auction to ensure that nobody would think those rights were being sold.  That wouldn't have cost them anything, and it would have prevented any later misunderstandings.  It also would have probably depressed the price, such that if Stardock had still bought the trademark, selling it back to them "at cost" might have only been $100k instead of $300k-$400k.

    The trademark was worth $300,000 easily all by itself. We spent twice as much on the marketing of Ashes of the Singularity.   That was what we cared about.  If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 12, 2018, 01:43:23 am
    I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.
    If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.

    I wasn't referring to the publishing rights for the past games, but rather to the forward-looking publishing rights to Paul's copyrighted material, which are needed to make new games in the UQM universe.  I presume that you think (or thought) that you had acquired those rights, based on what you said in your email to him last October (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/03ae818b-816c-4874-8c8b-86629ba9af7d.png):
    Quote from: Brad Wardell
    At present, we do have a license to your IP to use per the original agreement in all future sequels in perpetuity...

    Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 12, 2018, 03:12:16 am
    I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.
    If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.

    I wasn't referring to the publishing rights for the past games, but rather to the forward-looking publishing rights to Paul's copyrighted material, which are needed to make new games in the UQM universe.  I presume that you think (or thought) that you had acquired those rights, based on what you said in your email to him last October (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/03ae818b-816c-4874-8c8b-86629ba9af7d.png):
    Quote from: Brad Wardell
    At present, we do have a license to your IP to use per the original agreement in all future sequels in perpetuity...

    Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?

    Absolutely.  $300k is about what a trade show presence costs.  Wargaming spent $2 million on the Master of Orion IP and that has no universe or lore of any note.  They spent nearly that much on Total Annihilation, which again, is basically a trademark.  Stardock, at the same auction, bid $1.9 million on Master of Orion which as mentioned, mostly was the trademark.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 12, 2018, 04:37:59 am
    Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?

    Absolutely.  $300k is about what a trade show presence costs.  Wargaming spent $2 million on the Master of Orion IP and that has no universe or lore of any note.  They spent nearly that much on Total Annihilation, which again, is basically a trademark.  Stardock, at the same auction, bid $1.9 million on Master of Orion which as mentioned, mostly was the trademark.

    Right; with MOO, there isn't really a lot to it other than the trademark; maybe a bit of racial art and concept that would fall under copyright, but really, as part of a pure strategy game, the MOO races are just templates of racial stats.  There's not really a story to any of them - even their personalities can vary from game-to-game, and the dialog is all canned boilerplate*.  But SC2, being an RPG, is much more about your interactions with characters in the setting, which means the creative (copyrightable) aspects of the races play a much more prominent role.  IMHO, most of the value of SC2 lies not in the name's trademark, but rather in the setting's copyright (as the UQM project demonstrates).

    * Not to give the impression that I don't like MOO; on the contrary, MOO, MOM, and SC2 stand as my three favorite games of all time.  BTW, do you happen to know who ended up with the rights to MOM?  I presume you would have used them by now if you'd gotten them.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 12, 2018, 06:03:36 am
    I donít share your appraisal of the value of the lore.

    Baldurís Gate was an RPG but if it were sold, the value is in the trademark.

    Brands are valuable. Awareness is valuable.

    If there was a huge fan base of the SC2 related lore, you might have an argument. But there wasnít.

    I realize $300,000 is a lot for an individual. But thatís less than a typical launch trailer. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Soul Reaver on April 12, 2018, 09:23:28 am
    I donít share your appraisal of the value of the lore.

    Baldurís Gate was an RPG but if it were sold, the value is in the trademark.

    Brands are valuable. Awareness is valuable.

    If there was a huge fan base of the SC2 related lore, you might have an argument. But there wasnít.

    I realize $300,000 is a lot for an individual. But thatís less than a typical launch trailer.  

    I think it's hard to appraise the actual value of something like lore.  On the open market it's really only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.
    In terms of whether it brings in an audience or not though, that's more difficult.

    Personally, the story (ie, lore) of a game is very important to me, but it depends on the game in question.

    Some games stand by the virtue of their fun factor alone, and the lore doesn't really matter to the experience.  Many action games are like this, and heavily multiplayer-focussed RTS and shooters will be similar.  Doom was a great game due to its technology and fun factor, not due to a brilliant story.  Star Control 1 in many ways was like this as well - it was most fun playing it 2 player with my brother, but I would not be recommending the single player to anyone.

    I didn't love Star Control 2's single player game for its space exploration, combat engine or dialogue system - none of those were particularly spectacular in themsleves.  What kept me going was the well-written story and interesting characters.  I was always keen to see what the next encounter or quest would bring, because my experience with them throughout mean that I could expect them to be well-written and enjoyable.

    If it was poorly written or uninteresting, I would not have kept playing, and wouldn't be recommending it so strongly to other people on those very same merits today.

    For a good example of a lore-less game see No Man's Sky.  Giant universe to explore!  Heaps of creatures to meet!  And yet... where's the guiding hand of an actual skillful writer to make any of it meaningful?

    You've made games in the past were lore in incidental to the gameplay, but if you're planning on making a story-driven single player game, well-written lore is incredibly valuable to the player experience, and as a result, to the reputation of the game.  I'd be very concerned if you cannot see that.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 12, 2018, 06:51:47 pm
    I would have to chime in with agreement to Soul Reaver's post on the value of the lore and the narrative to a single player RPG.

    When you get right down to it, a lot of the parts of Star Control 2 aren't particularly sophisticated from a gameplay perspective and the graphics certainly haven't aged that well either. (Although mods certainly help!) And yet, it remains one of my favorite games of all-time and I can still pick it right back up and play it again even today despite how old it is.

    That's because of the amazing and tragic story of the two Ur-Quan races. It's because of the mystery of the Arilou's interest in earth and their tampering. It's because of the amazing selflessness of the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm to essentially sacrifice their entire races in order to create a stronger one that was capable of liberating and defending the rest of the Alliance of Free Stars. It because of the bravery of the Shofixti and their heroic last stand, and the guilt of the Yehat eventually driving them to overthrow a dynasty that had lasted for thousands of years as corrupt. It's because of the pure malevolence of the Dynarri contrasting with the nobility of the Taalo, or the hilarious black humor of the prank the Umgah played on the Spathi to trick them into becoming battle thralls and so many other things that I could keep on listing.

    These are the things that have survived the test of time and make the game so memorable and still so fun to play 25 years later. Don't get me wrong. I love me some Super Melee once in a while, but it's the lore that made Star Control 2 one of the best games of all time for me.

    The value of an RPG to me is not the name, or, put differently, the brand GETS its value in the first place from the lore. It is why people were originally disappointed when they learned that Origins wasn't going to have the alien races that they knew and liked but were mollified by the idea that there would be all new races that would be well fleshed out and a part of an interesting new universe with it's own deep storyline and history.

    It's also why the RPG genre is my absolute favorite. All of my favorite RPGs of all time usually come down - for me at least - to how good the characters in the game are and how well written and interesting the story is. The interactions with both really are, more than anything, the core gameplay of the RPG genre for me personally. The "playing a role" bit becomes much more fun when the rest of the setting feels "real" and compelling. When I was Commander Shepard playing Mass Effect I cared about the fate of my crew because of how real they felt. I did all the extra loyalty missions because I wanted to maximize the chances of keeping all of them alive. If the characters and story are interesting, then things such as "does the game have real time with pause or turn based combat" still matter to me and I still have my preferences, but they matter much less.

    I think this is where RPGs differ from the Strategy game genre, which I also enjoy but not to the same extent and not for the same reasons.

    There the other gameplay factors are so more important than the lore IMHO for a good Strategy game. Are the races/factions well balanced with different strengths and weaknesses that make for a fun variety to play? Are there multiple ways you can achieve victory to keep the experience from going stale? Does the map generator create fair maps that don't give anyone a huge advantage to start with? Things like that are more important to the core experience of a good Strategy game than each race/faction having a deep and compelling back story. Granted, I still find strategy games more compelling and fun if they DO have a good story campaign to them, but it isn't as important as it is in the RPG genre where I largely view it as essential.

    I think in a franchise like, say, Sid Meier's Civilization series the value is indeed in the trademark more than the lore because the trademark is associated with decades of well made, well balanced, and fun to play strategy games. Indeed the Civilization series doesn't even have any lore to speak of. I don't think that's true for a franchise like Star Control.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 12, 2018, 10:34:35 pm
    I can't argue how valuable the particular Ur-Quan Conflict lore is to you.   I can only tell you how valuable it is to us which is to say, it is not without value but even if we had it, we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.

    I agree that lore is very important in an RPG.  But if I had to choose between lore and the Baldur's Gate trademark, I know which I would pick. 

    In the case of Star Control: Origins, we've had four years to think about it.  We have a published book that includes the beginning of the backstory for the Lexites (https://amzn.to/2qnI3Q3).   It is something that we have been thinking of and building on for a very long time that we are very passionate about.  We have no more desire to use Paul and Fred's lore than we have to make a Star Trek or Star Wars game.

    This was why we wanted Paul and Fred to continue their story.  Because a new game set in the Ur-Quan universe would satisfy those that wanted to learn more about those amazing characters.  But for us, the value was in the trademark, the brand recognition.  The understanding by most of those who remember Star Control what type of game it is and what to expect.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 12, 2018, 11:26:30 pm
    I can't argue how valuable the particular Ur-Quan Conflict lore is to you.   I can only tell you how valuable it is to us which is to say, it is not without value but even if we had it, we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.

    I agree that lore is very important in an RPG.  But if I had to choose between lore and the Baldur's Gate trademark, I know which I would pick. 

    In the case of Star Control: Origins, we've had four years to think about it.  We have a published book that includes the beginning of the backstory for the Lexites (https://amzn.to/2qnI3Q3).   It is something that we have been thinking of and building on for a very long time that we are very passionate about.  We have no more desire to use Paul and Fred's lore than we have to make a Star Trek or Star Wars game.

    This was why we wanted Paul and Fred to continue their story.  Because a new game set in the Ur-Quan universe would satisfy those that wanted to learn more about those amazing characters.  But for us, the value was in the trademark, the brand recognition.  The understanding by most of those who remember Star Control what type of game it is and what to expect.

    To your first paragraph: Fair enough! Admittedly "personal value" and "financial value" are certainly different enough things.

    To your second paragraph: This is a bit dicey and a part of the core of my contention. I don't know if the you can really separate the value quite so cleanly between the lore and the trademark. The Baldur's Gate trademark has the value it has at least in part because of the experiences of the people who played those games doesn't it? If people didn't remember those games so fondly - largely because of the lore - then would the trademark still have any value?

    Similarly, I wonder how much value the Star Control trademark would have without the fond memories of the prior experiences. Certainly less than it does. It would be a cool "name" even without the legacy of the experiences of those games, but would the trademark still have the value it currently has without it?

    To your third paragraph: Please forgive me if I do not check your link. It isn't that I am not interested. Quite the opposite in fact. But for games that I have already decided to buy and play, I prefer to mostly keep myself in ignorance and go in with fresh eyes and no spoilers. It's a large reason why I am not active in more threads on your own forum. I like to learn just enough about an upcoming game to decide if I'm likely to enjoy it or not....and then stop learning anything more! I have high hopes that you and your team will come up with an entertaining and fun universe filled with interesting aliens and a gripping story. If I end up being disappointed, well, that's the price I pay for choosing to go into an experience with minimal knowledge.  :)

    To your fourth paragraph: This I find the most interesting part of your post, most specifically the part I bolded but all of it in general too. This ties into my thoughts on your second paragraph, that it isn't so easy to separate the value of the trademark from the lore.

    You're making the very reasonable argument that people associate the name "Star Control" with a specific kind of "gaming experience" and that's the core value of the trademark. I think this is a very good point and I don't dispute that I don't solely associate the trademark of Star Control just with the established lore. It is, in fact, largely your value pitch for Star Control Origins: "No, it won't have any of the races or history that you remember, but we're going to be creating a substantially similar gameplay experience with all the zaniness of exploration, new gaming races, an immersive story, etc." And believe me that's a great pitch!

    But that also makes me wonder why you feel that future games need to have the specific gaming races you've registered trademarks for. Why bother having Spathi, Orz, Utwig, etc. in future games if they will need to be substantially dissimilar to pass legal muster? Why not just name them something else if they aren't going to be the same races people are familiar with?

    I do apologize if I'm being obtuse on this point, but that's a genuinely confusing part to me.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: svs on April 13, 2018, 12:05:56 am
    I can't argue how valuable the particular Ur-Quan Conflict lore is to you.   I can only tell you how valuable it is to us which is to say, it is not without value but even if we had it, we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.

    I agree that lore is very important in an RPG.  But if I had to choose between lore and the Baldur's Gate trademark, I know which I would pick. 

    In the case of Star Control: Origins, we've had four years to think about it.  We have a published book that includes the beginning of the backstory for the Lexites (https://amzn.to/2qnI3Q3).   It is something that we have been thinking of and building on for a very long time that we are very passionate about.  We have no more desire to use Paul and Fred's lore than we have to make a Star Trek or Star Wars game.

    This was why we wanted Paul and Fred to continue their story.  Because a new game set in the Ur-Quan universe would satisfy those that wanted to learn more about those amazing characters.  But for us, the value was in the trademark, the brand recognition.  The understanding by most of those who remember Star Control what type of game it is and what to expect.

    To your first paragraph: Fair enough! Admittedly "personal value" and "financial value" are certainly different enough things.

    To your second paragraph: This is a bit dicey and a part of the core of my contention. I don't know if the you can really separate the value quite so cleanly between the lore and the trademark. The Baldur's Gate trademark has the value it has at least in part because of the experiences of the people who played those games doesn't it? If people didn't remember those games so fondly - largely because of the lore - then would the trademark still have any value?

    Similarly, I wonder how much value the Star Control trademark would have without the fond memories of the prior experiences. Certainly less than it does. It would be a cool "name" even without the legacy of the experiences of those games, but would the trademark still have the value it currently has without it?

    To your third paragraph: Please forgive me if I do not check your link. It isn't that I am not interested. Quite the opposite in fact. But for games that I have already decided to buy and play, I prefer to mostly keep myself in ignorance and go in with fresh eyes and no spoilers. It's a large reason why I am not active in more threads on your own forum. I like to learn just enough about an upcoming game to decide if I'm likely to enjoy it or not....and then stop learning anything more! I have high hopes that you and your team will come up with an entertaining and fun universe filled with interesting aliens and a gripping story. If I end up being disappointed, well, that's the price I pay for choosing to go into an experience with minimal knowledge.  :)

    To your fourth paragraph: This I find the most interesting part of your post, most specifically the part I bolded but all of it in general too. This ties into my thoughts on your second paragraph, that it isn't so easy to separate the value of the trademark from the lore.

    You're making the very reasonable argument that people associate the name "Star Control" with a specific kind of "gaming experience" and that's the core value of the trademark. I think this is a very good point and I don't dispute that I don't solely associate the trademark of Star Control just with the established lore. It is, in fact, largely your value pitch for Star Control Origins: "No, it won't have any of the races or history that you remember, but we're going to be creating a substantially similar gameplay experience with all the zaniness of exploration, new gaming races, an immersive story, etc." And believe me that's a great pitch!

    But that also makes me wonder why you feel that future games need to have the specific gaming races you've registered trademarks for. Why bother having Spathi, Orz, Utwig, etc. in future games if they will need to be substantially dissimilar to pass legal muster? Why not just name them something else if they aren't going to be the same races people are familiar with?

    I do apologize if I'm being obtuse on this point, but that's a genuinely confusing part to me.

    To play devil's advocate, why do the aliens need to match SC2? The vast majority of the people who buy SCO will either 1) have never played SC1 or SC2 or 2) played SC2 but don't remember much if anything about the game. In either of those two situations, I doubt very many SCO players will go back and play the quarter-century old DOS games to catch up on the lore and the story.

    I truly believe that it is very important to you, I doubt it is important to the vast majority who will buy SCO. I think you are in a very small minority on that front. Stardock's Star Control universe will be the one that players of today know and associate with the brand Star Control.

    Food for thought.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 13, 2018, 12:23:15 am
    To play devil's advocate, why do the aliens need to match SC2? The vast majority of the people who buy SCO will either 1) have never played SC1 or SC2 or 2) played SC2 but don't remember much if anything about the game. In either of those two situations, I doubt very many SCO players will go back and play the quarter-century old DOS games to catch up on the lore and the story.

    I truly believe that it is very important to you, I doubt it is important to the vast majority who will buy SCO. I think you are in a very small minority on that front. Stardock's Star Control universe will be the one that players of today know and associate with the brand Star Control.

    Food for thought.

    Don't think I or other fans didn't consider these arguments. We've already been discussing just that a few pages before. And I'll repeat what I said before: I won't accept any substitutes. And what purpose would it serve, except knowingly trampling what the hardcore fans hold dear? The newbies won't care what the new races will be called, so why, why alienate the old fanbase by messing with the classic races and characters?

    So as long as Stardock sticks to this approach:

    ...We have no more desire to use Paul and Fred's lore than we have to make a Star Trek or Star Wars game.

    This was why we wanted Paul and Fred to continue their story.  Because a new game set in the Ur-Quan universe would satisfy those that wanted to learn more about those amazing characters.  But for us, the value was in the trademark, the brand recognition.  The understanding by most of those who remember Star Control what type of game it is and what to expect.

    ...and as long as Fred and Paul have no legal restraints keeping them from developing their sequel, I will be satisfied.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 12:24:26 am
    Man, Tolonious, aren't you the same guy I enjoyed talking to on the SC forums? It would make sense.  You have a keen mind.

    Obviously, like many of you, I enjoy talking about this stuff.  So let's dive in here:

    Trademarks are what encapsulate that feeling you tie to the original experience.  That's what people mean by "good will".  Good will. Reputation. Happy thoughts are legally tied to the trademark.

    So why use them now? Because having those aliens (the names which are powerful) in Star Control put us at a disadvantage.  It's not a disadvantage we're willing to absorb now.

    Of course I'd love to say they were the exact same expressions as they were in SC2.  I don't know who created, for example, the art and text for the species called Ur-Quan in SC2.   And it doesn't really matter as our Ur-Quan have a very different history.

    Someone earlier said that it was retaliation.  That's pretty ugly and not remotely true.  Not doing someone a favor isn't retaliation.  On this very forum how many times has someone said "Why call it Star Control if you don't plan to have the Yehat and Orz and X in it?"  The reason was out of deference to Paul and Fred. Not because we couldn't.   Now, it makes more sense to make sure the Star Control multiverse is well understood.  And part of that will require Steinberg (Paul and Fred's attorney) educating them on what any potential copyrights they may think they have are limited to.  

    We have $9 million into this project.  We're committed.  I don't want to fight with Paul and Fred. But we really have no choice.  They could have bought the IP. They declined. So we moved forward. We've spent years on this.  We care about Star Control.  We've probably spent more time working on Star Control than they have.   All the aliens associated with Star Control will remain as part of the Star Control universe.  I don't think most fans will have an issue with that.


    Edit: Also, keep in mind, I'm posting here. I'm talking to you guys on this.  As any lawyer should tell you, it's madness that I discuss ongoing litigation publicly.  That should tell you just how passionate I am about Star Control and its future. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 12:37:41 am

    ...and as long as Fred and Paul have no legal restraints keeping them from developing their sequel, I will be satisfied.

    Depends on how you define legal constraints (I mean that literally, our trademark is our trademark obviously). 

    Paul and Fred and I could post bunches of emails making it pretty obvious how much I wanted them to make a new game in their universe with or without Stardock. 

    Even if Paul and Fred handed me all their IP, we wouldn't use it in SCO or its sequels.  I'm not even sure we'd put the old games back up at this stage.  I'm so thoroughly disenchanted with them that I'm not inclined to do anything that would build on their IP.  That said, I wouldn't want to do anything that prevented them from being able to return to their universe and doing new games in it.  I just don't want to have anything to do with them now. 

    I know Paul and Fred read this.  You (Paul and Fred) managed to turn someone who adored you and thought you walked on water and turn them into your adversary for no apparent reason.   Such a missed opportunity.  Consider this: I built a company around the Civilization V team (Oxide).  I hired Soren Johnson (Civilization IV, Spore, etc.) and built a company around him as well.  In both cases, gave them majority control of the companies so let them pursue their dreams.  I funded both companies completely and acted as their Presidents until they could become independent (and they're both now prospering and independent).  https://www.mohawkgames.com/ http://oxidegames.com/

    Paul and Fred could have left Activision and I would have built a studio around them giving them majority control and let them make whatever they wanted.  Instead they choose to hire a PR firm and accuse me of being a thief and smear me in the media. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 13, 2018, 12:49:06 am

    To play devil's advocate, why do the aliens need to match SC2? The vast majority of the people who buy SCO will either 1) have never played SC1 or SC2 or 2) played SC2 but don't remember much if anything about the game. In either of those two situations, I doubt very many SCO players will go back and play the quarter-century old DOS games to catch up on the lore and the story.

    I truly believe that it is very important to you, I doubt it is important to the vast majority who will buy SCO. I think you are in a very small minority on that front. Stardock's Star Control universe will be the one that players of today know and associate with the brand Star Control.

    Food for thought.

    To be honest, I find this line of argument a little disingenuous. Prior to the very public legal squabbles, Stardock made mention of the old games and how great they were frequently. They talked up those old games and P&F constantly and were more than happy to have news articles reference them repeatedly. Now of course a part of this is probably an attempt to talk up the new Star Control game, but they wanted to associate the new game with the old games in the eyes of the market.

    Since the legal squabbles, they're now 25 year old DOS games that only a tiny minority of people care about that have no real value...and yet at the same time future games WILL have all those alien races that were in those games included because the fans wanted them and were disappointed that Origins wouldn't have them.

    I consider myself to be an open minded individual prepared to consider all sorts of viewpoints, but how those old games are described and talked about has changed a bit IMO. One example:

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/07/stardock-acquires-star-control-rights-in-fire-sale-plans-reboot/

    This is right after Stardock bought the trademark and this is a direct quote.

    I think what most Star Control fans are looking for is a new Star Control game where the inspiration comes from Star Control 2. They want a game with fun, adventure and top down ship battles like in Star Control 2 that all play within a fun sci fi universe. Preferably one with Ur-Quan and Spathi and lots of insults.

    Worth noting as an aside this does seem to pretty directly imply that Stardock considered themselves to have the rights to include races like Ur-Quan and Spathi back then and that does support the contention of Brad's that they only did not include them out of respect to P&F at the time. Which makes them filing the recent trademarks look less like legal trolling andmore like a follow-up of sincerely held beliefs.

    But that's another subject so, that aside...

    I find it hard to reconcile this quote with my being a "tiny minority". Now, obviously, Brad could never have predicted how the situation would have changed between then and now (and also he himself is one of those tiny minority of folks like me who loved those original games so much!) but the thinking definitely does not appear at the time of the trademark purchase that the games were 25 year old DOS games that nobody remembered or cared about.

    Quite the opposite, Stardock very much wanted people to make the connection to those games. (And for pretty obvious reasons...because they were so beloved. It's one of the reasons the trademark had/has so much value!)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 13, 2018, 01:16:17 am
    Man, Tolonious, aren't you the same guy I enjoyed talking to on the SC forums? It would make sense.  You have a keen mind.

    Obviously, like many of you, I enjoy talking about this stuff.  So let's dive in here:

    Trademarks are what encapsulate that feeling you tie to the original experience.  That's what people mean by "good will".  Good will. Reputation. Happy thoughts are legally tied to the trademark.

    So why use them now? Because having those aliens (the names which are powerful) in Star Control put us at a disadvantage.  It's not a disadvantage we're willing to absorb now.

    Of course I'd love to say they were the exact same expressions as they were in SC2.  I don't know who created, for example, the art and text for the species called Ur-Quan in SC2.   And it doesn't really matter as our Ur-Quan have a very different history.

    Someone earlier said that it was retaliation.  That's pretty ugly and not remotely true.  Not doing someone a favor isn't retaliation.  On this very forum how many times has someone said "Why call it Star Control if you don't plan to have the Yehat and Orz and X in it?"  The reason was out of deference to Paul and Fred. Not because we couldn't.   Now, it makes more sense to make sure the Star Control multiverse is well understood.  And part of that will require Steinberg (Paul and Fred's attorney) educating them on what any potential copyrights they may think they have are limited to.  

    We have $9 million into this project.  We're committed.  I don't want to fight with Paul and Fred. But we really have no choice.  They could have bought the IP. They declined. So we moved forward. We've spent years on this.  We care about Star Control.  We've probably spent more time working on Star Control than they have.   All the aliens associated with Star Control will remain as part of the Star Control universe.  I don't think most fans will have an issue with that.


    Edit: Also, keep in mind, I'm posting here. I'm talking to you guys on this.  As any lawyer should tell you, it's madness that I discuss ongoing litigation publicly.  That should tell you just how passionate I am about Star Control and its future. 


    Yep. Same guy! Thank you for the compliment.

    On your edit, I would agree completely. I'm certainly Not A Lawyer, but it's pretty common knowledge that talking about a case that is pending litigation publicly isn't the smartest legal strategy because the more you talk about something publicly, the more likely it is you'll inadvertently say something that could be used against you legally.

    A few other thoughts on the rest of your post. I'm inclined to agree with the part "not doing someone a favor isn't retaliation". In particular, in light of the quote of yours I posted in my previous post from 2013 at the time of your acquisition of the trademark, it certainly does not look like you're acting out of anything other than sincerely held beliefs that you have the rights to all of those alien races since you clearly seemed to think you had those rights in 2013.

    Not being a lawyer, I have no idea if that's true or not but clearly you strongly believe that you do and so I think folks assuming bad faith on your part is at the very least premature. (On the other hand, I admittedly take something of a similar stance on P&F in that they clearly seem to think they own more than you think they do but I don't have enough available evidence to assume bad faith vs. a more innocuous genuine difference of opinion on that point.)

    Stepping back from the legal situation...a few posts back I hypothesized about an alternate universe where the Ur-Quan didn't meet the Dynarri when they did and never ended up enslaved, genetically tampered with and separated into two sub-species but instead remained in the Sentient Milieu and Brown. I speculated on how it might be fun if they discovered the Dynarri thousands of years later (presumably right around the timeline of the original SC2) and how that would be an interesting game to play with the Ur-Quan one of the good guys and the Dynarri the "big bad" of a new SC game.

    So your hint that your Ur-Quan have "a very different history" is pretty interesting to me.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 01:35:54 am
    Quote
    I find it hard to reconcile this quote with my being a "tiny minority". Now, obviously, Brad could never have predicted how the situation would have changed between then and now (and also he himself is one of those tiny minority of folks like me who loved those original games so much!) but the thinking definitely does not appear at the time of the trademark purchase that the games were 25 year old DOS games that nobody remembered or cared about.

    My view, naturally, is a bit different than either of yours.

    I see the world through Venn diagrams.  This is not very helpful when driving.

    Group 1: People who have no idea what Star Control means (majority).
    Group 2: People who have heard of Star Control and heard it was good but didn't personally play it but are excited that a new one is coming. (smaller)
    Group 3: People who have heard of Star Control and remember playing it and vaguely remember certain race names and the gameplay. (smaller)
    Group 4: People who have heard of Star Control, blah balh, and finished the game and know who the Orz are (smaller)
    Group 5: People who...blah balh...and care about the lore (smaller).

    The question is the relative sizes of these 5 groups.   

    IMO, only group 5 cares if the new Star Control has a Ur-Quan that was enslaved by the Dynarri for 20 centuries and broke free had two of the main castes (the green and black where the black were the worker's cast genetically engineered by the Dynarri prior to the departure of the Taalo to "pretty space") fight the Doctrinal conflict with one following the path of Now and Forever having named their sub-species in honor of Kzer-Za, the hero who discovered how to free themselves of Dynarri mind control.

    I happen to be in group 5 (obviously).  But I'm also in the business of making and selling video games and feel pretty confident in saying that the vast majority of people fall into groups 1 through 4.    Thus, the brand matters a lot more than the lore. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 01:40:06 am
    Quote
    Stepping back from the legal situation...a few posts back I hypothesized about an alternate universe where the Ur-Quan didn't meet the Dynarri when they did and never ended up enslaved, genetically tampered with and separated into two sub-species but instead remained in the Sentient Milieu and Brown. I speculated on how it might be fun if they discovered the Dynarri thousands of years later (presumably right around the timeline of the original SC2) and how that would be an interesting game to play with the Ur-Quan one of the good guys and the Dynarri the "big bad" of a new SC game.

    So your hint that your Ur-Quan have "a very different history" is pretty interesting to me.

    Same here.   

    In SC2, the Ur-Quan there met the Taalo and were the scouts of the SM where they ultimately encountered the Dynarri.

    In SCO, the Ur-Quan meet the Taalo but are not enslaved by the Dynarri.   Instead, the Dynarri encounter a species known as the Xraki and the Dynarri Hegemony becomes a great menace until the Faction of 8 is formed to resist them and ultimately prevails thousands of years before the start of our game leaving our area of space in a bit of turmoil which sets the stage for the rise of the Scryve Empire which now dominates our sector.

    But what is outside our sector remains to be seen.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 13, 2018, 01:44:15 am
    Paul and Fred could have left Activision and I would have built a studio around them giving them majority control and let them make whatever they wanted.  Instead they choose to hire a PR firm and accuse me of being a thief and smear me in the media.

    As I've said, I think the PR firm was a bad idea.  It said some stupid and juvenile things on their behalf, and I think they should have cut it loose.

    And I don't doubt that you sincerely wanted to enable them to make a new game - your emails make it clear that you wanted their involvement, and your offer to sell them the trademark at cost really leaves no doubt that you wanted the game to happen even if it wasn't under your umbrella.

    However, deciding that they wanted to stay independent was their prerogative.  And the trigger for them going hostile on you appears to have been your October 2017 email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/03ae818b-816c-4874-8c8b-86629ba9af7d.png), where you claimed that the1988 agreement was still valid, meaning that you were saying that they had no right to develop their game without your permission.

    I'd just ask you to take a minute, and realize how threatening that email must have seemed to them.  Regardless of your offering to be permissive about it, it still meant that you were asserting that you had final control over something that they believed they had owned for 16 years.  While that doesn't excuse any trademark infringement they might have then committed, from my read of the emails, that email was the first shot fired in this war, and it's what kicked off the cycle of subsequent escalations.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 13, 2018, 01:55:10 am
    Group 1: People who have no idea what Star Control means (majority).
    Group 2: People who have heard of Star Control and heard it was good but didn't personally play it but are excited that a new one is coming. (smaller)
    Group 3: People who have heard of Star Control and remember playing it and vaguely remember certain race names and the gameplay. (smaller)
    Group 4: People who have heard of Star Control, blah balh, and finished the game and know who the Orz are (smaller)
    Group 5: People who...blah balh...and care about the lore (smaller).

    The question is the relative sizes of these 5 groups.   

    I happen to be in group 5 (obviously).  But I'm also in the business of making and selling video games and feel pretty confident in saying that the vast majority of people fall into groups 1 through 4.    Thus, the brand matters a lot more than the lore.

    ...but the question is not group 5's size relative to all the rest.  The brand name is irrelevant to group 1, the race names are irrelevant to groups 1&2, and the race names without the lore are hostile to 5, and maybe to 4 (if they care about the Orz). 

    So the question for the race names without the lore is group 5's size relative to group 3, with group 4 maybe going either way.

    I'd be willing to concede that group 1 is probably the largest, but I think I'd want to see some survey data from an uninterested source before reaching any conclusions about the relative sizes of the others.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 13, 2018, 01:56:33 am
    Quote
    In SCO, the Ur-Quan meet the Taalo but are not enslaved by the Dynarri.   Instead, the Dynarri encounter a species known as the Xraki and the Dynarri Hegemony becomes a great menace until the Faction of 8 is formed to resist them and ultimately prevails thousands of years before the start of our game leaving our area of space in a bit of turmoil which sets the stage for the rise of the Scryve Empire which now dominates our sector.

    This kind of "alternate past" is actually interesting in its own way, the same way it would be interesting to read an "alternate past" Star Control fanfic. However, I'm curious - just how dissimilar your version of the races and the events has to be from those in UQM to avoid any conflict with Fred and Paul's copyright? Because you seem to be walking a fine line here - make them too obviously similar, and Fred and Paul sue you. Make them too different, and they will look like a cheap substitute.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 13, 2018, 02:02:57 am
    Quote
    In SCO, the Ur-Quan meet the Taalo but are not enslaved by the Dynarri.   Instead, the Dynarri encounter a species known as the Xraki and the Dynarri Hegemony becomes a great menace until the Faction of 8 is formed to resist them and ultimately prevails thousands of years before the start of our game leaving our area of space in a bit of turmoil which sets the stage for the rise of the Scryve Empire which now dominates our sector.

    This kind of "alternate past" is actually interesting in its own way, the same way it would be interesting to read an "alternate past" Star Control fanfic. However, I'm curious - just how dissimilar your version of the races and the events has to be from those in UQM to avoid any conflict with Fred and Paul's copyright? Because you seem to be walking a fine line here - make them too obviously similar, and Fred and Paul sue you. Make them too different, and they will look like a cheap substitute.

    I had the exact same thought. You expressed it well.

    Edit: It sounds like a ton of fun to explore, but I'm curious on just where the legal line would actually be.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 02:54:23 am
    Iíve already been briefed by legal counsel. But the answer to your questions are only a few Google searches away.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 13, 2018, 04:08:29 am
    I donít share your appraisal of the value of the lore.
    Really? I'm sorry to hear this. To be honest, it kind of decreases my interest in Star Control: Origins; I hadn't yet decided whether I wanted to obtain SCO. Now I start to wonder if someone who doesn't see the value in the lore could even produce something as good as the original Star Control 2.

    Baldurís Gate was an RPG but if it were sold, the value is in the trademark.
    If the Baldur's Gate trademark were sold to one party and its copyright to another, then the former party will have been ripped off. The BG trademark is practically worthless without its lore.

    Brands are valuable. Awareness is valuable.
    You can hardly call something a brand if the things sharing the name aren't related. Star Control 2 and Star Control Origins barely qualify in my opinion. Obviously this has nothing to do with the law (I'm not a lawyer and know nothing about trademark law), it's just a personal qualitative evaluation.

    we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.
    It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

    Stardock's Star Control universe will be the one that players of today know and associate with the brand Star Control.

    Food for thought.
    A bit of a frightening thought when considered in light of the OS/2 -> Windows version of GalCiv.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 13, 2018, 04:20:42 am
    we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.
    It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

    I'll echo that; I was a big fan of the old Trek, but haven't watched a bit of it since they rebooted.  If they wanted to tell a new story, I wish they'd taken a risk (creatively and monetarily) and invented something genuinely new instead of running Trek through the recycler.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Serosis on April 13, 2018, 06:31:33 am
    It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

    Except that they aren't in name only when they attached Leonard Nimoy and the classic series cast to them.

    The new Star Trek film franchise is in a different reality as explored when Spock and Nero's ships fell into an artificially created black hole.
    We now follow this alternate version of the Enterprise's "original" crew. Some things are the same, some aren't, that's what happens in the Kelvin-verse.

    Same with Discovery, even though I don't like it, it remains canon to the classic series but just adjacent in an alternate reality. Even much more so thanks to the Spore Drive.

    Just because you may not regard it as canon doesn't mean that's factually the way it is when it all connects to the original shows in many different ways in-story and thematically.

    So, really, Star Trek is just a bad example. It's convoluted but it's still jumping off the original canon.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 13, 2018, 07:07:25 am
    However, deciding that they wanted to stay independent was their prerogative.  And the trigger for them going hostile on you appears to have been your October 2017 email (https://cdn.stardock.us/forums/0/0/1/03ae818b-816c-4874-8c8b-86629ba9af7d.png), where you claimed that the1988 agreement was still valid, meaning that you were saying that they had no right to develop their game without your permission.

    I'd just ask you to take a minute, and realize how threatening that email must have seemed to them.  Regardless of your offering to be permissive about it, it still meant that you were asserting that you had final control over something that they believed they had owned for 16 years.  While that doesn't excuse any trademark infringement they might have then committed, from my read of the emails, that email was the first shot fired in this war, and it's what kicked off the cycle of subsequent escalations.

    One other ramification of that email that I don't think has been explicitly noted so far:  If your assertion that the 1988 agreement is live holds up, then the entire UQM project is illegitimate.  Paul&Fred could not have legally released the code and art to the community if Accolade (then Infogrames) still held an exclusive license to it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 06:44:25 pm
    Not really.   It's been far too long to do anything about that.

    Here's my IMNAL view on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity)

    Accolade/Atari failed to act.  UQM is here to stay no matter what.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 13, 2018, 07:30:05 pm
    Not really.   It's been far too long to do anything about that.

    Here's my IMNAL view on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity)

    Accolade/Atari failed to act.  UQM is here to stay no matter what.

    Probably...but I'm not entirely sure.  My IANAL concern is that the Petrella decision (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/12-1315.pdf) mostly did away with Laches as applied to copyright.  What I'm not sure about is whether this question would actually fall under that decision, since it wouldn't be Paul enforcing his copyright, but rather Stardock enforcing its exclusive license for the copyright, which would seem to fall under contract law, not copyright law.

    Even if Laches could apply, that defense relies on a "reasonableness" standard that isn't entirely clear-cut, so I'm not sure if I'd want to rely on it in the absence of a more definitive ruling on the issue. Perhaps we'll get some more clarity by the time this case is over.

    However, even if Laches doesn't apply to any copyright claims, it seems like it could still apply to Stardock's trademark claims, since trademark law (from my non-lawyer read) lacks the statutory claims period relied upon in Petrella (and later in SCA Hygiene (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-927_6j37.pdf), for patents).


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 13, 2018, 10:44:00 pm
    Well in any event, UQM is here to stay.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: PRH on April 13, 2018, 11:48:43 pm
    And moving back to an earlier discussion...

    Quote
    Depends on how you define legal constraints (I mean that literally, our trademark is our trademark obviously).

    As a fan of UQM, I would want Fred and Paul to be able to do the following things without having to ask for anyone else's permission:

    1. Develop a sequel to UQM.
    2. Use their lore without any retcons or alterations being forced on them, such as the races' names.

    You might ask why it is such a big deal for me, as a person unaffiliated with Fred or Paul, that they should be able to do it without asking for your permission. Well, it's a matter of trust. While you do seem to treat the Star Control universe with more care than Accolade did with SC3 and StarCon, you are basically asking us to trust you to give F&P full creative freedom and not take that freedom away at any point in the future, even though it is fully in your power to do so. That takes a lot of trust. And while none of us here has any real power to influence your decisions on this matter, this is one of the reasons many of us will be rooting for F&P in this conflict.

    Then there's the question of the "Star Control multiverse". If you recall, it's one of the reasons F&P stated for "getting angry" at you in their initial blog post (https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/12/1/there-were-many-great-battles-and-some-of-them-involved-lawyers) about this legal conflict:

    Quote
    Despite what Stardock's Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our gamesí universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Controlģ: Origins. (Note: We really donít like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

    I said earlier that the idea of an "alternate past" Star Control universe is a fun idea to entertain, the same way it could be fun to read a Star Control fanfic with that premise. But there is one key difference between fan fiction and officially released material (aside from the commercial/non-commercial distinction, obviously). Officially released material is canon, while fan fiction is not. So by asserting the existence of a "Star Control multiverse" where the Ur-Quan universe created by F&P is just one of many timelines, while Origins is an alternate version of the same universe (while F&P had no plans to make it that way), you are still kind of messing with F&P's canon. I'm not saying this from a legal point of view (I'm not qualified to make any legal conclusions), but from that of a lore fan.

    Finally, there's the topic of confusion. If you plan to use races called the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in your games, wouldn't that create confusion with F&P's sequel? How is an average fan going to make sense of two competing games created by two different companies using 20+ races with the exact same names?

    And by the way, you used some rather strong language about Fred and Paul before, such as saying they were "mugging" you (admittedly, their PR firm is guilty of the same thing against you, calling you a "thief"). Why do you put it that way? What kind of threat do you think they pose to you or your games, and why?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 01:23:33 am
    Lot of good and interesting questions, PRH.

    I don't have a lot of good answers because much of it would require knowing the future. :)

    What I can say is that Stardock owns the Star Control multiverse and that multiverse contains the Ur-Quan, Orz, Yehat, Pkunk, etc.  

    I honestly couldn't tell you what Paul and Fred own.  And by that, I mean, I don't think I should speak on their behalf on that.  

    In another thread, Paul said he was scanning high resolution images of the artwork created by others that they in turn licensed to be included in SC2. I don't know what label Paul and Fred would want to use for their combined creatives.  For brevity, let's call it the Ur-Quan universe.  They own that lore and artistic expressions found within.  And obviously, we do not.

    Quote
    And by the way, you used some rather strong language about Fred and Paul before, such as saying they were "mugging" you.

    As for my descriptions, I have not suggested that Paul and Fred mugged anyone.  Rather, I strongly object when someone tries to play moral equivalence games with phrases like "Well, it takes two to have a dispute" which is akin to implying that the mugger and the muggee are equally at fault.  The analogy being, moral equivalence is a bad argument.

    Stardock very much would like to see sequels to UQM made by Paul and Fred and we would like to see them done without retcons or alterations.  That's been our position for many years.

    However, as you quote:
    Quote
    Despite what Stardock's Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our gamesí universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Controlģ: Origins. (Note: We really donít like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

    and then state yourself:

    Quote
    Finally, there's the topic of confusion. If you plan to use races called the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in your games, wouldn't that create confusion with F&P's sequel? How is an average fan going to make sense of two competing games created by two different companies using 20+ races with the exact same names?

    This is a conundrum.  The Star Control games will continue to have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.  They won't be in Star Control: Origins due to it taking place in 2088 but they are out there.  Obviously, the issue of confusion has to be considered.   These races are associated strongly with Star Control.  I'm not sure how easily that can be addressed if Paul and Fred want to use them if they don't want to associate them with the Star Control multiverse.  That is why we have trademarks, to avoid consumer confusion.

    I wish I could tell you how it would turn out.  I just don't know.




    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 01:56:11 am
    This is a conundrum.  The Star Control games will continue to have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.  They won't be in Star Control: Origins due to it taking place in 2088 but they are out there.  Obviously, the issue of confusion has to be considered.   These races are associated strongly with Star Control.  I'm not sure how easily that can be addressed if Paul and Fred want to use them if they don't want to associate them with the Star Control multiverse.  That is why we have trademarks, to avoid consumer confusion.

    I wish I could tell you how it would turn out.  I just don't know.

    Well, it seems like there are three possible outcomes on this point:

    • Stardock is permitted to claim a trademark the SC2 race names (by common law via the original SC2),  Paul and Fred probably abandon GotP, because they're not going to change the names, and it seems unlikely that they'd license them after this much bad blood between you.
    • Paul is allowed to claim a trademark on the SC2 race names (by virtue of common law via UQM after Accolade abandoned those marks), or P&F's lawyer finds a way that copyright could apply to the names (maybe the use of them in combination is sufficiently creative?).  Stardock leaves the SC2 race names out of its games, and Paul & Fred make GotP.
    • Neither of the above.  Stardock puts races with the SC2 names in its games, making sure that they are different enough not to infringe Paul's copyright.  Paul and Fred make GotP, and both sides just have to accept whatever confusion results.

    Personally, I'm skeptical about the first; it just seems unlikely that a trademark claim could be made on the race names after UQM has been using them for so long.  The second seems like it could be a bit of a long shot too.  So if I were a betting man (and I'm not), I'd probably bet on the third outcome.

    Of course, if Stardock wins the 1988 agreement argument, it automatically wins this one too.

    Still not-a-lawyer, of course.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 02:36:10 am

    I can't speak for what Paul and Fred will do but any IP attorney can walk you through what's going to happen.  Paul and Fred are welcome to try to oppose the trademarks if they want of course but in the end, Stardock will have those trademarks.   I would imagine their legal counsel has already walked them through this. 





    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 02:53:05 am
    I can't speak for what Paul and Fred will do but any IP attorney can walk you through what's going to happen.  Paul and Fred are welcome to try to oppose the trademarks if they want of course but in the end, Stardock will have those trademarks.   I would imagine their legal counsel has already walked them through this.

    Well, if P&F's counsel already understands why Stardock will inevitably get the trademarks, then there's no reason not to explain it to us here, so that we can appreciate the strength of Stardock's case.  Right?  :-)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 02:57:45 am
    You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing. 

    There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 03:06:44 am
    You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing. 

    There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics.

    Sorry, but I'm skeptical.  Not that there isn't plenty of information on trademark, but rather that there is something directly applicable to the question of what happens to the common law trademarks in a product that ceases to be sold, is re-released by its copyright owner after the applicable IP license expired, uses those trademarks for a decade uncontested by any sales of the original product, and then has the entity that bought the primary (registered) trademark on the product attempt to enforce the common law trademarks as well.

    I mean, there's a lot out there on the Internet, but if you've found something that directly addresses this question, I'd love to see it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 03:09:38 am
    If you canít be bothered to look up this stuff, why should I spend time walking you through it? 

    No offense, Elastan but I couldnít care less if youíre skeptical or not. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 14, 2018, 03:19:16 am
    It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

    Except that they aren't in name only when they attached Leonard Nimoy and the classic series cast to them.

    The new Star Trek film franchise is in a different reality as explored when Spock and Nero's ships fell into an artificially created black hole.
    We now follow this alternate version of the Enterprise's "original" crew. Some things are the same, some aren't, that's what happens in the Kelvin-verse.

    Same with Discovery, even though I don't like it, it remains canon to the classic series but just adjacent in an alternate reality. Even much more so thanks to the Spore Drive.

    Just because you may not regard it as canon doesn't mean that's factually the way it is when it all connects to the original shows in many different ways in-story and thematically.
    It's not a question of canon, it's a question of spirit. I don't know about Discovery, but the two reboot movies I saw, while pretty decent as standalone movies, do not live up to the spirit of Star Trek.

    You might ask why it is such a big deal for me, as a person unaffiliated with Fred or Paul, that they should be able to do it without asking for your permission. Well, it's a matter of trust. While you do seem to treat the Star Control universe with more care than Accolade did with SC3 and StarCon, you are basically asking us to trust you to give F&P full creative freedom and not take that freedom away at any point in the future, even though it is fully in your power to do so. That takes a lot of trust. And while none of us here has any real power to influence your decisions on this matter, this is one of the reasons many of us will be rooting for F&P in this conflict.
    I for one categorically do not trust anyone holding hypothetical trademarks to Spathi, etc. Even if Brad himself is willing to be liberal with other people's use of the trademarks, there's no guarantee that he will be in control of the trademarks in perpetuity. In the future, Stardock could be sold to another entity who is less willing to let people use them.

    I can't speak for what Paul and Fred will do but any IP attorney can walk you through what's going to happen.  Paul and Fred are welcome to try to oppose the trademarks if they want of course but in the end, Stardock will have those trademarks.   I would imagine their legal counsel has already walked them through this.
    This is, quite frankly, wrong. If you're correct that this is what's going to happen, then there's a bug in the law that needs to be patched up; but I strongly hope you're not correct.

    And I'll add that your constant smug remarks implying you know how this will all end up (in your favour) are not welcome.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 03:22:23 am
    If you canít be bothered to look up this stuff, why should I spend time walking you through it?

    I have looked it up, and most of what I found indicated that failing to use or enforce such trademarks for so long would render them unenforceable.  I'm actually quite curious to find sources indicating to the contrary.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 14, 2018, 03:26:05 am
    Rather, I strongly object when someone tries to play moral equivalence games with phrases like "Well, it takes two to have a dispute" which is akin to implying that the mugger and the muggee are equally at fault.  The analogy being, moral equivalence is a bad argument.
    Oh right, I wanted to comment on this too. It absolutely takes two to have a dispute. This is completely different from a claim that the mugger and muggee are equally at fault; there is nothing remotely similar about the two scenarios. Your use of this fake analogy does you no favours either.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 03:29:15 am
    Perhaps you can find the actual context it was used in. my anaolofy was regarding moral equivalence.

    Also, on trademarks and registration, itís not about being smug. Itís just not a very complex process.  The Orz and such will be part of the new Star Control games just like they were part of previous Star Control games.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Death 999 on April 14, 2018, 03:35:41 am
    Quote
    Not that there isn't plenty of information on trademark, but rather that there is something directly applicable to the question of what happens to the common law trademarks in a product that ceases to be sold, is re-released by its copyright owner after the applicable IP license expired, uses those trademarks for a decade uncontested by any sales of the original product, and then has the entity that bought the primary (registered) trademark on the product attempt to enforce the common law trademarks as well.

    Quote
    If you canít be bothered to look up this stuff, why should I spend time walking you through it?

    You're such a hoot, Frogboy. Are you sure your true calling isn't comedy? Or perhaps Press Secretary?

    EDITED to restore context. Sheesh you all type fast.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 03:37:53 am
    I donít think I could compete with your, wit. ;)


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 04:14:18 am
    Also, on trademarks and registration, itís not about being smug. Itís just not a very complex process.  The Orz and such will be part of the new Star Control games just like they were part of previous Star Control games.

    Actually, 'smug' describes this pretty well.  People, including myself, have cited specific, plausible reasons for why Stardock might have trouble securing these trademarks. But rather than address those reasons, you're falling back on nonspecific assertions that your predicted outcome is inevitable, and then saying that it's "just not a very complex process", implying that anyone who does not accept your assertion must be obtuse.  That is not a valid way to argue a point.  If it is so obvious, it should be simple to supply the requested proof.

    Of course, we're not in court, and you're certainly not obligated to make a valid argument here, just as you're not obligated to be here at all.  But when you use fake rhetoric like this, it disrespects the people you're talking with, and it gives the audience the impression that you can't actually prove your point, because it looks like you're trying to evade the call to back it up with evidence.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 04:30:08 am
    What I mean is you can literally google on what grounds you can oppose a trademark and work it from there.

    It just seems disengenuous how you can claim to know how a complex legal contract will work out but you think thereís some blockeron registering an alien name.

    You know what was a hard trademark to get: Impulse. But we got it.  Thatís a very common word. Which makes it valuable but difficult to trademark. Impulse has been used so many times in so many ways. But we got it. Yehat, by contrast, very easy. Strongly associated with Star Control(R). Will be in new Star Control games.  We couldnít trademark it if we werenít going to use it. You canít squat on a trademark.  

    Short version: you are way overthinking it. 


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 05:20:48 am
    What I mean is you can literally google on what grounds you can oppose a trademark and work it from there.

    Okay, I just did, and found this page (https://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/TBMP/current#/current/sec-bdacef53-7b72-4ca5-8ceb-215e4afda588.html), which includes (among others) at least these reasons why such a trademark would plausibly be invalid:

    Quote from: USPTO
    (1) Trademark Act ß 2(d), 15 U.S.C. ß 1052(d): That defendantís mark so resembles a mark registered in the Office, or a mark or trade name previously used in the United States by another and not abandoned, as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods or services of the defendant, to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.

    (7) That defendant is not (and was not, at the time of the filing of its application for registration) the rightful owner of the registered mark.

    (11) That defendantís mark has been abandoned due to nonuse with intent not to resume use, and nonuse for three consecutive years shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment, [ Note 26.]; or due to a course of conduct that has caused the mark to lose significance as an indication of source.

    Quote
    It just seems disengenuous how you can claim to know how a complex legal contract will work out but you think thereís some blockeron registering an alien name.

    I don't "know" how the contract will turn out, but my current opinion is that Atari's lawyers probably knew what they were talking about, and you haven't countered that opinion by providing any rationale to support your position on it.  If you do, I'll re-evaluate.

    Quote
    Yehat, by contrast, very easy. Strongly associated with Star Control(R). Will be in new Star Control games.  We couldnít trademark it if we werenít going to use it. You canít squat on a trademark.

    ...except that in 2001, Paul introduced a new product called "The Ur-Quan Masters" that used the name "Yehat".  That product is still actively distributed and used.  Accolade had no product using that Mark in commerce in 2001, and for many years thereafter, and in any event, Accolade knew of "The Ur-Quan Masters" use of "Yehat", and did not object, thereby forfeiting the Mark.  So it seems like "Yehat" is currently in use by another party, and is therefore not eligible for registration.

    I also want to re-raise what I thought was a very good point by PRH:
    ...by asserting the existence of a "Star Control multiverse" where the Ur-Quan universe created by F&P is just one of many timelines, while Origins is an alternate version of the same universe (while F&P had no plans to make it that way), you are still kind of messing with F&P's canon.

    If nobody has a trademark, and you just put a random race called 'Yehat' in your game, that's one thing.  But if you put 'Yehat' in your game, and say that it's an alternate universe/alternate history version of the 'Yehat' from SC2, haven't you just conceded that your "Yehat" is a derivative of the 'Yehat' from SC2, and therefore subject to Paul's copyright?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 06:05:06 am
    What I mean is you can literally google on what grounds you can oppose a trademark and work it from there.

    Okay, I just did, and found this page (https://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/TBMP/current#/current/sec-bdacef53-7b72-4ca5-8ceb-215e4afda588.html), which includes (among others) at least these reasons why such a trademark would plausibly be invalid:

    Quote from: USPTO
    (1) Trademark Act ß 2(d), 15 U.S.C. ß 1052(d): That defendantís mark so resembles a mark registered in the Office, or a mark or trade name previously used in the United States by another and not abandoned, as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods or services of the defendant, to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.

    (7) That defendant is not (and was not, at the time of the filing of its application for registration) the rightful owner of the registered mark.

    (11) That defendantís mark has been abandoned due to nonuse with intent not to resume use, and nonuse for three consecutive years shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment, [ Note 26.]; or due to a course of conduct that has caused the mark to lose significance as an indication of source.

    Quote
    It just seems disengenuous how you can claim to know how a complex legal contract will work out but you think thereís some blockeron registering an alien name.

    I don't "know" how the contract will turn out, but my current opinion is that Atari's lawyers probably knew what they were talking about, and you haven't countered that opinion by providing any rationale to support your position on it.  If you do, I'll re-evaluate.

    Quote
    Yehat, by contrast, very easy. Strongly associated with Star Control(R). Will be in new Star Control games.  We couldnít trademark it if we werenít going to use it. You canít squat on a trademark.

    ...except that in 2001, Paul introduced a new product called "The Ur-Quan Masters" that used the name "Yehat".  That product is still actively distributed and used.  Accolade had no product using that Mark in commerce in 2001, and for many years thereafter, and in any event, Accolade knew of "The Ur-Quan Masters" use of "Yehat", and did not object, thereby forfeiting the Mark.  So it seems like "Yehat" is currently in use by another party, and is therefore not eligible for registration.

    I also want to re-raise what I thought was a very good point by PRH:
    ...by asserting the existence of a "Star Control multiverse" where the Ur-Quan universe created by F&P is just one of many timelines, while Origins is an alternate version of the same universe (while F&P had no plans to make it that way), you are still kind of messing with F&P's canon.

    If nobody has a trademark, and you just put a random race called 'Yehat' in your game, that's one thing.  But if you put 'Yehat' in your game, and say that it's an alternate universe/alternate history version of the 'Yehat' from SC2, haven't you just conceded that your "Yehat" is a derivative of the 'Yehat' from SC2, and therefore subject to Paul's copyright?

    You are mixing copyrights and trademarks.   You can't copyright a word. Using a word doesn't convey automatic trademark.  Only copyrights exist automatically.  Using a word or phrase doesn't turn it into a common-law trademark either.  

    You can't simply use a word in something you release and claim to own it.  You are thinking of copyright.  You also should read the footnotes in your link.

    I really can't make this any clearer than it already is.  My communication skills are obviously not up to the challenge.  Certainly, Paul and Fred can oppose the trademarks.   But in the meantime, they'll be in the new Star Control games.  







    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 06:18:33 am
    Certainly, Paul and Fred can oppose the trademarks.   But in the meantime, they'll be in the new Star Control games.

    Just checking; by 'the new Star Control games', do you mean SC:O, or what comes after?  The last I recall, you said that they wouldn't be in SC:O.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 06:30:03 am
    Certainly, Paul and Fred can oppose the trademarks.   But in the meantime, they'll be in the new Star Control games.

    Just checking; by 'the new Star Control games', do you mean SC:O, or what comes after?  The last I recall, you said that they wouldn't be in SC:O.

    They will be referenced and the Arilou may be in it depending on schedule and story requirements.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 06:34:42 am
    The last I recall, you said that they wouldn't be in SC:O.
    They will be referenced and the Arilou may be in it depending on schedule and story requirements.

    Hmm, interesting.  I wonder if this means that we'll see a motion for a preliminary injunction from P&F.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 06:40:01 am
    They are welcome to try. But I doubt it, you should really google these legal terms you use. This is why the lawyer guy (and myself) get frustrated with you sometimes.

    To get a preliminary injunction you would need to show irreparable harm and convince the court you are likely to succeed.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 06:56:37 am
    They are welcome to try. But I doubt it, you should really google these legal terms you use. This is why the lawyer guy (and myself) get frustrated with you sometimes.

    To get a preliminary injunction you would need to show irreparable harm and convince the court you are likely to succeed.

    I'm not sure what basis you have to assume I don't know about preliminary injunctions; I'm actually quite familiar with how they work.  The judge would also have to balance the possible harm to Stardock, and P&F would have to post a correspondingly sized bond.

    I think (but still am not-a-lawyer) that the possibility of releasing Paul's IP in an unlicensed work would qualify as irreparable harm; it's not something you can reverse just by writing a check.  And since you're on record a little while ago as saying that the game wasn't going to use the SC2 races, and you're still not sure about it, the harm to Stardock from not being able to use them doesn't seem all that great.  The question is whether P&F could show a likelihood of prevailing.  Based on what's currently known, I think they are likely to prevail on the 1988 agreement, but I don't know where the lines are on what counts as too similar, so I'm not sure exactly how they'd define what would be enjoined.

    So, I think they could plausibly get an injunction against you using Paul's IP - I just can't guess how the court would rule on whether what you're planning would count as using it or not.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 14, 2018, 07:05:58 am
    You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing. 

    There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics. 

    A small quibble with this if I may. This is twice you've suggested people use Google to find a legal answer sort of thing.

    This might be counterproductive to your not wanting people to pretend to be lawyers here or elsewhere.

    I certainly could use Google to look some legal stuff up...but even having done so I'd still be highly unqualified to come to any real conclusions with any real knowledge behind them. I could Google for certain statutes but there's no way to know if I was applying them correctly let alone if they agreed with common law case precedent.

    I mean, I could come up with some theories with some of my advanced Google-Fu Ninja Skills, but it would still be entirely possible what theories I (or someone else) might come up with would be either less convincing or more annoying and/or wrong than what, say, Elestan, has come up with to you given how completely out of my depth I'd be if I (or anyone else equally unqualified) would be if they tried from your POV.

    Or, put another way, I wouldn't advise people to Google legal stuff if I didn't want them to give potentially highly unqualified opinions on what they might find after doing so.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 07:08:51 am
    What IP are you thinking Paul has here? There is no IP of Paul and Fred in SCO. They donít have any trademarks or copyrights that they could reasonable argue are being violated.  Unless youíre going to argue that having an alien within SCO, one we have already filed a trademark on, but has the same name as an alien in an open source game that was released nearly 20 years ago and that this would somehow cause Paul irreparable harm.  

    If thatís your argument, just say so.  I donít want to be accused of misrepresenting your position.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 14, 2018, 07:11:00 am
    I really should have read a few more posts before making my last one. I note that the conversation continued in a direction I wasn't expecting.

    I should know better than to not get fully caught up on posts before chiming in.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 07:18:22 am
    You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing.  

    There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics.  

    A small quibble with this if I may. This is twice you've suggested people use Google to find a legal answer sort of thing.

    This might be counterproductive to your not wanting people to pretend to be lawyers here or elsewhere.

    I certainly could use Google to look some legal stuff up...but even having done so I'd still be highly unqualified to come to any real conclusions with any real knowledge behind them. I could Google for certain statutes but there's no way to know if I was applying them correctly let alone if they agreed with common law case precedent.

    I mean, I could come up with some theories with some of my advanced Google-Fu Ninja Skills, but it would still be entirely possible what theories I (or someone else) might come up with would be either less convincing or more annoying and/or wrong than what, say, Elestan, has come up with to you given how completely out of my depth I'd be if I (or anyone else equally unqualified) would be if they tried from your POV.

    Or, put another way, I wouldn't advise people to Google legal stuff if I didn't want them to give potentially highly unqualified opinions on what they might find after doing so.

    Thatís fair.

    I would say, making legal conclusions is what is annoying. Using legal terminology is annoying. Understanding what a trademark is and isnít as well as what a copyright protects and doesnít protect are things I think are worthwhile looking up.

    I donít know if Elestan is being intellectually honest or not. Sometimes he seems reasonable and sometimes he is, as Iíve said, frustratingly obtuse. I just canít tell if heís doing it on purpose or not. I just donít understand how someone who shows so much interest in litigation is struggling so much on trademark vs. copyright when thereís lots of layperson articles on it.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 14, 2018, 07:23:17 am

    You are mixing copyrights and trademarks.   You can't copyright a word. Using a word doesn't convey automatic trademark.  Only copyrights exist automatically.  Using a word or phrase doesn't turn it into a common-law trademark either.  

    You can't simply use a word in something you release and claim to own it.  You are thinking of copyright.  You also should read the footnotes in your link.


    I have a question on this piece. I don't know if this is correct or not, but the word "Yehat", just as one example, is this really just a word with nothing else behind it?

    I mean, it isn't just some nonsensical word is it? Doesn't anyone who is familiar with the word (no matter how common or rare those people might be to avoid dragging yesterday's conversation about the relative population sizes of Star Control peoples in the Venn diagrams are) already associate it automatically with the created intellectual property behind it?

    Is the word "Yehat" just a "word" or does it represent a tangible history, physical look, and other created content behind the word  to anyone who is familiar with the word?


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 07:29:51 am
    Confusion, good will, association are all tied to trademarks exclusively. And what trademark, are the Yehat, for instance associated with?

    This is why we have trademarks. To prevent confusion.  

    Edit:
    Copyrights, by contrast, protect things like the unique visual expression, the original written work like histories, lore.

    Iíve always wondered if the change of the Klingons from TOS to the movieís/TNG has a story we donít know about.

    Not a lawyer but the Klingons in TOS and the Klingons in the movies/TNG only have the name in common.  They didnít just change the look. They changed their lore too.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Talonious on April 14, 2018, 07:40:01 am
    Ah I think I understand.

    Your contention is that the Yehat race is automatically intrinsically tied to the Star Control trademark in the minds of anyone familiar with it. If someone knows wtf a "Yehat" is, then they instantly think "oh it's those bird like things that kinda resemble avian versions of honor bound, warrior race Klingons that are in that game Star Control".

    And since you bought the Star Control trademark, anything that people automatically associate with Star Control also belongs to you so long as the specific version of Yehat that P&F came up with isn't used.

    Edit: Ironically, I made this post and used the Klingon metaphor before I saw you use it in your edit.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 07:47:04 am
    What IP are you thinking Paul has here? There is no IP of Paul and Fred in SCO. They donít have any trademarks or copyrights that they could reasonable argue are being violated.  

    Unless youíre going to argue that having an alien within SCO, one we have already filed a trademark on, but has the same name as an alien in an open source game that was released nearly 20 years ago and that this would somehow cause Paul irreparable harm.

    So, I have to note that while you've filed the trademark, an examiner hasn't even looked at it yet (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87810518&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch), so I don't think it has much legal significance.

    But in any case, I see two separate questions here:  

    First, could P&F plausibly get an injunction against SC:O including their IP?  This seems quite plausible to me; releasing a game with their IP in it would be irreparable harm, and (lacking other evidence from you) I think they are likely to prevail in finding that the 1988 agreement is terminated.

    Second, does what Stardock is planning to put in SC:O count as infringing Paul's IP?  Here, I'm not sure; I don't know where a court would draw the lines on what counts as "substantial similarity", and it's too subjective for me to guess at without an extended review of the case law.  If you're confident that you're not stepping over the line, then you could just not bother contesting such a preliminary injunction, since it wouldn't have an effect on you.

    In my own, legally-irrelevant opinion, you could have a flying-saucer piloting race of classic UFO-style Grays in your game - that's a standard SF trope.  And you could have an alien race called the Ariliou - that's an uncopyrightable name.  But when you put the two together, I think you're starting to make something that is undeniably derived from Paul's creative expression in SC2.  The combination is not something that you would have ever come up with on your own, if you didn't have the creative content of the previous games to look at - you couldn't get it from just the parts that bear the trademark.  And the more SC2-named races you add, the more it becomes clear that as a collection, you are creating a work that derives from Paul's.  But like I said, this is just my view; I make no claim about how the law views it.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 08:04:58 am
    I would say, making legal conclusions is what is annoying. Using legal terminology is annoying. Understanding what a trademark is and isnít as well as what a copyright protects and doesnít protect are things I think are worthwhile looking up.

    I donít know if Elestan is being intellectually honest or not. Sometimes he seems reasonable and sometimes he is, as Iíve said, frustratingly obtuse. I just canít tell if heís doing it on purpose or not. I just donít understand how someone who shows so much interest in litigation is struggling so much on trademark vs. copyright when thereís lots of layperson articles on it.

    I'm certainly trying to be as straightforward as possible.  I presume that this is the section you were referring to?:

    If nobody has a trademark, and you just put a random race called 'Yehat' in your game, that's one thing.  But if you put 'Yehat' in your game, and say that it's an alternate universe/alternate history version of the 'Yehat' from SC2, haven't you just conceded that your "Yehat" is a derivative of the 'Yehat' from SC2, and therefore subject to Paul's copyright?

    You are mixing copyrights and trademarks.   You can't copyright a word. Using a word doesn't convey automatic trademark.  Only copyrights exist automatically.  Using a word or phrase doesn't turn it into a common-law trademark either.  

    You can't simply use a word in something you release and claim to own it.  You are thinking of copyright.

    I've looked over what you said, and I think you may have mis-read what I wrote,  You seem to have gotten the impression that I was making a trademark argument.  In fact, I was making a copyright argument.  That's why I deliberately took any trademark considerations out of the equation by starting out saying "If nobody has a trademark,,,", and ending with "...subject to Paul's copyright".


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 08:37:47 am
    I understood you, Elestan.

    You canít copyright a word.  Paul and Fred could conceivably own the artistic expression of the Yehat that is unique to it. They could own the lore, background, history, dialog.  But names are expressly the realm of trademarks.

    So while fans might expect the Yehat in new Star Control games, they would have to be a new expression. The Yehat can be a pterodactyl.  But could it have green jeweled eyes, yellow skin, ?  To be safe, Iíd recommend the artists be careful in that.

    By contrast, Paul and Fred could have a species with a different name but looks identical to the Yehat in SC2 if they own the copyright to it.

    Edit: to add to the point I think youíre trying to make:  If we say theyíre the same Yehat species as SC2 that still doesnít get into copyright. Thatís not what derivative means in this case.  By contrast, if we tried to continue the story of SC2, now youíre getting into characters and settings. That gets too murky for my small, non-lawyer brain.

    Generally speaking, itís better to be safe than sorry.  Another reason to trademark the alien race names. It will eliminate doubt. And if Paul and Fred think they have trademarks rights to those names, there is a process for that.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Elestan on April 14, 2018, 09:18:52 am
    So while fans might expect the Yehat in new Star Control games, they would have to be a new expression. The Yehat can be a pterodactyl.  But could it have green jeweled eyes, yellow skin, ?  To be safe, Iíd recommend the artists be careful in that.

    That's one core question:  How similar is too similar?  Is even making them pterodactyls too close?  Can you have the Umgah if they're green blobs instead of purple, or do they have to not be blobs at all?  It seems like this could be subjective enough that every instance might have to be separately adjudicated.

    A more specific question: Even though names themselves are not subject to copyright, if an SC:O race has 'some' similarity to an SC2 race, does the SC:O race become more vulnerable to claims of being derivative if it takes the same name as its SC2 counterpart?  Or does it not matter at all?

    Quote
    ...if we tried to continue the story of SC2, now youíre getting into characters and settings. That gets too murky for my small, non-lawyer brain.

    The question I'd have here is whether, by claiming that your races share a past with the SC2 races, or that your universe is somehow connected to theirs, does that amount to an encroachment on Paul's setting rights?

    I don't claim to know the answer to these, and I think they're too specific for general Googling to be helpful; they probably need case law research.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: huhlig on April 14, 2018, 12:18:33 pm
    One additional thing to take into account is that Trademarks and Goodwill are technically separate assets. Goodwill is associated with a reputation of a service or goods NOT a name. A Trademark is a name that is associated with goodwill establishing a known source and by owning a trademark you prevent confusion within the market.
    Quote
    Assignment Without Goodwill Law and Legal Definition.
    Assignment or transfer of a trademark must occur in conjunction with the transfer of goodwill represented by that mark. An assignment without transfer of goodwill is invalid. When an assignment occurs without goodwill, the trademark is in effect abandoned.
    Additionally
    Quote
    Because consumers rely upon trademarks to identify products and as a representation of a product or serviceís quality, the party who sells a trademark must ensure that the new owner upholds those expectations. This concept is known as assigning goodwill to the trademark, and the court must determine if the sale also transferred goodwill to the new owner. In many cases, the former owner must also transfer all assets used to create trademarked items to the new owner to guarantee that standards of quality and production donít take consumers by surprise because of the transfer.
    And
    Quote
    "Use of the mark by the [trademark] assignee in connection with a different goodwill and different product would result in a fraud on the purchasing public who reasonably assume that the mark signifies the same thingÖ Therefore, if consumers are not to be misled from established associations with the mark, [the mark must] continue to be associated with the same or similar products after the assignment.Ē Ė Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
    Anyone who would recognize the Star Control trademark directly would associate it with the art created by Fred and Paul. By depriving the trademark of the assets created by Fred and Paul and intellectual property they created you strip the trademark of its inherent value.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: kaminiwa on April 14, 2018, 02:25:00 pm
    What I mean is you can literally google on what grounds you can oppose a trademark and work it from there.

    My own efforts at doing this:

    Taking it as a given that the original Trademark was valid, and purchased by Stardock:
    • The trademark could be argued to be diluted (but UQM is non-commercial use and doesn't count)
    • [ ... a lot of obviously inapplicable reasons ... ]
    • The mark has been abandoned (I have no clue how UQM's continued use of the mark affects this)
    • The mark falsely suggests a connection with the opposer
    • A trademark can be opposed if the mark or symbol [...] creates a false connection with an unrelated company
    • In many cases, the former owner must also transfer all assets used to create trademarked items to the new owner to guarantee that standards of quality and production donít take consumers by surprise because of the transfer.

    P&F contest that you don't have a license to the assets, at which point it seems a lot more problematic.

    And on the other hand, if "the former owner must also transfer all assets used to create trademarked items", then it seems really reasonable to assume that any sale of the trademark... had to actually include a license to the assets, otherwise it would be invalid. So Stardock had every reason to assume they DID own the assets. That doesn't that they were Atari's to sell in the first place, but it does explain why Stardock would feel comfortable taking it as a given.

    If we take it as given that Stardock *did* acquire a license to the assets, then the only remaining reason seems to be "argue it was abandoned" (which seems dicey given the existence of the UQM continuing the use of that trademark). So, pretty clear cut indeed.

    If we instead assume that P&F have exclusive rights to the assets, then... Google totally fails me when it comes to the question of how to handle it when the copyright and trademark are owned by different companies. Very much outside the range of "just Google it."

    I personally think it's premature to assume that P&F are in the wrong here, but neither would I assert that they've got it correct. I can't imagine a conflict like this forming if both sides didn't genuinely think they were in the right.

    Quote from: Elestan
    Accolade knew of "The Ur-Quan Masters" use of "Yehat", and did not object, thereby forfeiting the Mark.

    http://www.iusmentis.com/trademarks/crashcourse/limitations/#Noncommercialuseofatrademark seems pretty clear on non-commercial use not applying, unless it dilutes or parodies the trademark, neither of which applies here?

    (I'm open to correction. Again, I'm not a lawyer - just following the invitation to work it out from Google :))


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 02:50:01 pm
    Keep in mind, Stardock is operating as if the 1988 agreement has expired.  Otherwise, it would have included the SC2 ships and actual expressed versions of the aliens that Paul and Fred claim rights to.  Itís just too risky to operate any other way.

    Moreover, as Iíve said elsewhere, at this stage we donít want to use any of Paul and Fredís IP. There might be some value in the ships,  But not enough to hassle with.  

    Imo, itís better if Paul and Fred use their IP themselves, especially now that they seem motivated to do something with it.  But none of that use can relate to Star Control trademarks without permission.  



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: astkr5 on April 14, 2018, 03:22:16 pm
    Keep in mind, Stardock is operating as if the 1988 agreement has expired.  Otherwise, it would have included the SC2 ships and actual expressed versions of the aliens that Paul and Fred claim rights to.  Itís just too risky to operate any other way.

    Moreover, as Iíve said elsewhere, at this stage we donít want to use any of Paul and Fredís IP. There might be some value in the ships,  But not enough to hassle with.  

    Imo, itís better if Paul and Fred use their IP themselves, especially now that they seem motivated to do something with it.  But none of that use can relate to Star Control trademarks without permission.

    To clarify, are you saying that in your view FF and PR3 would be legally obligated to seek permission from Stardock not just if they wished to attach the actual Star Control name to their new game (Ghosts) but in principle to even use the names of the species which were in SC1 and SC2 (Yehat, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc.) in Ghosts? That is, in your view they would have to rename the original aliens in order to proceed with the story in which those original aliens were presented, if they did not want to pay or otherwise compensate Stardock for the use of what you feel is your trademark?

    Help me out here, I'm just really struggling to see how Stardock's actions (even if legally correct) don't amount to an attempt to place roadblocks/tolls in the way of the production of the game I'm most interested in seeing made.


    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: Frogboy on April 14, 2018, 03:38:48 pm
    They would need our permission. Just as weíd weíd need their permission to use their IP.



    Title: Re: My take on Stardock
    Post by: tingkagol on April 14, 2018, 06:08:43 pm
    Probably a lost cause now, but why are you doing this?

    To paraphrase, how does applying trademarks for all the Sc1-2 races protect Origins? The litigation's sole purpose was to protect the SC trademark and Origins, correct?