The Ur-Quan Masters Discussion Forum

The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release => General UQM Discussion => Topic started by: meep-eep on September 22, 2018, 10:01:32 pm



Title: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: meep-eep on September 22, 2018, 10:01:32 pm
Hey guys,

As you may know, Stardock has just released its latest game. Considering that this game shares part of its name with the game to which this forum owes its existence, I can imagine that a few people here bought it and would like to discuss it.

I would like to point out that this forum was created for the The Ur-Quan Masters Open Source project, and that the ‘General Discussion’ forum is only intended for all things related to the The Ur-Quan Masters game (which includes the UQM universe, its creators Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, fan creations, the remix project (a.k.a. the Precursors), etc.).

Discussions regarding Stardock's ‘Star Control: Origins’, which is related to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters only by name, belong in the off-topic section of this forum, the Starbase Café. I will allow discussions regarding the lawsuit in ‘General UQM Discussion’, as it directly involves the future of the UQM universe, and it is now threatening the Ur-Quan Masters Community. (Read on...)

Stardock's ‘licence agreement’
A little while ago, Stardock, through its CEO Brad Wardell (known as ‘Frogboy’ on this forum), has contacted me to — in his words — ‘alleviate concerns that Stardock's trademark enforcement might have negative consequences for the UQM project.’
He did this not by unilaterally granting the community the use of the trademarks which Stardock claimed it had, but by offering what he called a ‘license agreement’. By signing this document, I would have stated that Stardock owns these trademarks (including ‘The Ur-Quan Masters’ and alien and ship names) and I would assign any rights I myself have regarding these to Stardock.
Even though I do not see how Stardock could be owning any of these trademarks other than ‘Star Control’ — unless it recently bought them from Paul Reiche and Fred Ford — by signing this contract, I could have actually given Stardock some claim on them. After all, the UQM project has been actively using these trademarks since 2002. (I by the way offered to Paul and Fred to transfer any claim that I might have on these trademarks, to them, gratis.)

I do not know whether I am legally allowed to post the complete mail exchange with the legal documents, but I will include here my response to Brad and his legal team, which should give some insight in what he asked of me:
Quote
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2018 19:44:13 +0200 (CEST)
From: Serge van den Boom
To: Brad Wardell
Cc: Henry Pailing, legal@stardock.com, David May
Subject: Re: The Ur-Quan Masters project

Hi Brad,

I am glad that Stardock is supportive of the UQM project, and that you
want to alleviate the fan concerns that Stardock's trademark enforcement
might have negative consequences for the UQM project.

I do not feel, however, that signing an agreement is necessary, or
indeed, in the best interest of the UQM project, or the community.

First of all, I do not have any reason to conclude that you in fact have
any tenable claim to the The Ur-Quan Masters trademark; the assets which
Stardock bought from the Atari bankruptcy sale included no claims on
this trademark, nor have you yourself used it in commerce.
On the other hand, we (the UQM team), and creators of spin-off projects,
have been continuously using 'The Ur-Quan Masters', under the auspices
of Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, since 2001.

Second, in your agreement, you want us to state that Stardock *does* own
the trademark rights, and to the extend that *we* do, assign those
trademark rights to Stardock. That seems like a step backwards to me.

Third, if we were to sign your agreement, we could not transfer or
sublicense the rights which you gave to us, which is incompatible with
an Open Source project which could be abandoned and continued by
different people at any time.

Fourth, if you do not like the way in which we use the trademarks, you
could in theory unilaterally revoke the license at any time, leaving us
with nothing.

That said, I do think that there is a genuine concern within the fan
community that Stardock's trademark enforcement might have negative
consequences for the UQM project. Not because it is perceived that your
trademark claims would stand up to scrutiny, but because a small Open
Source project of a few individuals is no match against a large company
backed by a law firm, if that company were to decide to use the Open
Source project as a pawn in a legal battle with the original creators of
the game.

Fortunately, there is a way to alleviate those concerns, and show the
fans that you would not act in bad faith against the community.

What I am suggesting is that you unilaterally grant a full and
non-revocable license to whatever necessary intellectual property rights
you hold to the community. It is my understanding that it is in fact not
required to have the licensee assert that the licensor actually has the
rights they are licensing; you could instead say 'to the degree that we
own ...'.

You could probably just publish such a license grant on Stardock's
website, and it would put a few minds at ease.

Please consider it. After all, with your new game on the way, some
positive attention is always welcome.


Regards,

Serge van den Boom


On behalf of the UQM core team:
    Serge van den Boom
    Mika Kolehmainen
    Michael Chapman Martin
    Alex Volkov

I understand that other members of the community have been approached by Stardock. By posting this, I hope to avoid that any others who have their own UQM-derived project, sign an agreement which could hurt not just them, but Paul and Fred as well.

The ugly
Now a little while after I sent my response to Brad, I was contacted by someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) with screenshots purportedly from Stardock's #sco-elite channel. In one of these screenshots the user ‘Draginol’ — a name which is used by Brad Wardell — posted the email exchange between Brad and me. Another screenshot was this one:
(http://uqm.stack.nl/files/lawsuit/email/screenshot3.jpg)
Note the line about eliminating this community (‘and star-control.com as well’).

I have no means to verify that these screenshots are genuine, so keep this in mind when forming your opinion. Considering the potential impact on the UQM community however, I thought it was important to share this. I can confirm however that the email posted in the screenshot by ‘Draginol’ appears to be the one which I sent to Brad, and I have only sent a copy of this to a few trusted others.

For me personally, these events, combined with Stardock's legal actions against Paul and Fred, are enough that I will never buy another Stardock game as long as Brad Wardell is its CEO and Stardock hasn't dropped the lawsuit against Paul and Fred.
I apologise to Stardock's other developers who have nothing at all to do with these unpleasantries and are just trying to create a fun game and earn a living.


Edit 2018-09-22: Those supportive of Paul and Fred's case, who would like to see their sequel to Star Control II (in spirit, though not in name) made, may want to consider donating to the Frungy Defense Fund (https://www.gofundme.com/help-fred-amp-paul-save-the-universe).


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on September 23, 2018, 05:29:00 am
Serge was kind enough to send me a copy of that licensing contract, and it was every bit as deceptive as he indicated.  While it was portrayed as a generous offer of a "perpetual" license to protect the project, and accompanied by sweetly-worded statements about how much Starodock valued and supported fan projects, and how much they liked the UQM Project in particular, Stardock's license actually contained clauses that would have placed the Project firmly under its thumb, and handed whatever leverage it had over the trademarks over to Stardock.  Moreover, it contained language specifying that Stardock would have sole discretion to determine whether its marks were being used to an acceptable "standard of quality", and could be cancelled immediately if Stardock ever decided it was not.

It's hard to overstate how incredibly deceptive and two-faced this was.  Brad has long been loudly proclaiming how much of a fan he is of UQM, and how he considers himself a member of this community.  When he registered those trademarks, and we all expressed concern, he made reassuring noises about how it was intended to protect the UQM project:

Quote from: Frogboy from http://www.star-control.com/community/viewtopic.php?p=26583#p26583
I'm not a lawyer so I am not going to make speculate on things like the Ur-Quan Masters other than to say Stardock is glad it exists andis supportive of that effort and will never take any action to interfere with it.

Our long-term goal is for the UQM community to be set up as an independent, open-source destination for creating stories without interference.
[...]
I am here.  If Stardock does something bad, there's someone you can yell at. :)
(emphasis added)

Quote from: Frogboy from https://forums.starcontrol.com/486284/page/11/#3708040
Quote from: Quatloo
If your trademark applications go through, do you plan on shutting down the open-source UQM, too?

No.  Stardock's games have many fan communities and we support what they do.  After this is over, we plan to release Star Control 3 source code to the fan community as well as work with them on what we are calling the Open Universe project.

So now that we can see what he says about us behind our backs, we should have no illusions about Stardock's real message to the fan communities of the classic Star Control games:

YOUR INDEPENDENCE IS NOT PERMISSIBLE -- ONLY SUBSERVIENCE SHALL BE TOLERATED.

We can but hope that a different quote from Brad does turn out to be true:

Quote from: Frogboy from https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/page/19/#3714926
It's not a good idea to antagonize fan communities.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on September 23, 2018, 08:38:28 am
You were right all along Elestan. I wasn't a 100% in when you mentioned it awhile back, and quite repeatedly actually, that the UQM project is in danger. I will no longer believe anything that sounds remotely reassuring from Brad Wardell that he's going to protect the open source project or anything related to settling with P&F - this includes those "there's been some positive movement behind the scenes" quotes from him (come to think of it, he's been doing it since day 1 - suggesting P&F were on board with the SCO project during its early days). At this point, Stardock most likely will try to take over the SC subreddit as well probably through the main reddit admin to silence all his critics in any SC related channels.

The above exhibits need to be framed and pinned everywhere (reddit, forums) so that people won't be fooled anymore.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Krulle on September 23, 2018, 11:55:00 am
Serge, thank you for informing us and sending that reply.
I agree with your statements, and thank you for your care.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: IceAge on September 23, 2018, 01:17:08 pm
@Serge.

Exellent posting! Thanks. I completly agree with your statements and i am glad you shared this info with us.

Groet uit Groningen.





Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on September 23, 2018, 04:27:30 pm
It's so easy to demonize the guy now that I pinch myself to check if I'm in some kind of soap opera. The fact that he is lashing out at a community that became increasingly hostile only because of his actions and his company's aggressive legal strategy is truly dumbfounding.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Lakstoties on September 23, 2018, 07:53:16 pm
This is something I feared from the beginning with Stardock's filing for "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark over half a year ago.  And here we are...


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on September 23, 2018, 09:08:12 pm
Greetings!

I appreciate you bringing this up as it allows us to clear the air on this topic.

As some of you know, when the trademark concerns between Stardock and Paul and Fred heated up, Stardock began to register the trademarks it believes it inherited from its Accolade/Atari acquisition.  One of these trademarks is the sub-title to Star Control II (The Ur-Quan Masters).

After this occurred, a number of UQM community members urged us to send Serge a license agreement for the trademarks (as you can read in the comments here over and over again https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/).  

I also repeatedly stated that I did not believe that UQM requires a trademark license because it is not engaging in commerce.  Again, you can read in the comments of that thread, I probably said, at least 20 times in that thread (or more) that I do not believe that UQM requires a trademark license because it is not engaging in commerce.

Nevertheless, members of the community insisted that we needed to send Serge and co a trademark license in order to send a message that Stardock would not interfere with the UQM project.  Thus, this past Summer, I relented and asked the lawyers to draft up a very short licensing agreement for the trademarks in question and sent it over.

Your first response was simply to state that you didn't think you needed to sign a licensing agreement which echoed my position and I've seen no reason to pursue it further.  If I don't see a reason and you don't see a reason then when should we invest time and energy pursuing it further?

With regards to my *private* venting regarding some of the extremely toxic and hate-filled posts that have been directed at me *personally* from this forum.  It is true that on occasion I have vented that this forum (not the project but the forum) should be shut down.  However, each time, Death999 has demonstrated an even-handed moderation to remove the more excessive of the hate from some of the new (all new as of this year) posters that have entered the community.   This doesn't make it okay to even entertain such opinions. But I don't claim to be anything but flawed human being either.   This project has been very difficult given the controversy and abuse that has often been directed at me personally.  But I would like to think that most of you understand the difference between being angry versus acting on that anger. 

We have not, nor do we plan to, take any action against any Star Control fan community.

Stardock is one of the oldest independent game developers in the industry. It is supported by countless fan communities. We have never, in all that time, done anything to intefrere with any of them.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on September 23, 2018, 09:28:21 pm
After this occurred, a number of UQM community members urged us to send Serge a license agreement for the trademarks (as you can read in the comments here over and over again https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/).

Almost true, but not quite.  My suggestion was to offer a unilateral license, not to try to get the UQM team to sign one:

Quote from: Elestan at https://forums.starcontrol.com/486284/page/26/#3712132
If you really want to put this issue to bed, would you be willing to issue an irrevocable license for any marks from UQM (which of course does not include "Star Control") for use in any project covered by the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license?  This would guarantee that the UQM project will be unaffected by the outcome of this litigation - which is something you've said was your understanding and desire all along.

Would you mind if Serge posted the contracts you sent him, so that people can see for themselves what terms they contained?

EDIT:  The initial approach email to Serge has been posted (http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/script/images/7/73/StardockUQM_LicenseApproach.PNG) by its author (initially to Discord).  I think it would be great if Brad would grant permission for the whole email chain to be posted, so that we could all see the full context.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: meep-eep on September 23, 2018, 10:05:46 pm
@Frogboy
You act like that ‘license agreement’ didn't include a clause where I would be stating that Stardock owns the various trademarks which are under legal dispute,
nor a clause where I would be transferring whatever rights I have on them to Stardock.

Would you consent to me posting the entire email chain, including the proposed license agreement, so that everyone can judge for themselves?


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on September 23, 2018, 10:17:41 pm
The lawyers put it together and we sent it off. As I’ve said, my personal opinion is that none of it is necessary and I don’t like the precedent it sets (I really don’t want to get into the business of sending mod communities license agreements).

This was urged on by the community. The threads in question are publicly available for anyome to read and verify.

You’re welcome to post the proposed license agreement.

But like I said, we aren’t the ones who pushed for this. If UQM doesn’t want to sign an agreement, then don’t. If there is alternative language you want, then modify it as you see fit. 


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: lostsoul on September 23, 2018, 10:42:41 pm
i stand with fed, paul, the uqm and pages of now and forever communities...let the resistance begin


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: meep-eep on September 23, 2018, 10:57:43 pm
Ok, here is the full email conversation, unmodified except for the removal of email addresses, response history present in emails, and email signatures.

The attachments are shown with the email to which they belong, but for convenience, I will link them here as well:
  • UQM perpetual trademark license v1.pdf (http://uqm.stack.nl/files/lawsuit/email/UQM perpetual trademark license v1.pdf)
  • UQM perpetual license agreement v2.pdf (http://uqm.stack.nl/files/lawsuit/email/UQM perpetual license agreement v2.pdf)

Quote
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2018 16:16:37 +0200 (CEST)
From: Serge van den Boom
To: Henry Pailing
Subject: Contact information


Hello Henry,

I understand that you've been trying to contact me. I'm not on Steam or
Discord, but feel free to send me an email.
As you can see in the 'sender' header, my email address is
[REMOVED].


Regards,

Serge van den Boom
(Meep-Eep on the UQM forums)

Quote
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2018 19:03:36 +0000
From: Henry Pailing
To: Serge van den Boom
Subject: Re: UQM Project

Hello,


I am the lead community manager here at Stardock. I'm contacting you to have a chat about the UQM project and Stardock's relationship with the project.
As you are probably aware, we have been developing a new Star Control<https://store.steampowered.com/app/271260/Star_Control_Origins/> title for some
time now (read: 4 years) which is scheduled for release this year in September.


In the meantime we have been going back and forth with founders and various members of the community and one issue that has been raised is idea of
preserving the UQM project for future generations. With many of us here being fans of the classic games, and some of the original talent involved with
SCO having worked on SC2 in the past, we wish to make it clear that we have no intention of interfering with the Ur-Quan Masters project now or anytime
in the future.


If you have time to talk properly I'd like to get you on something like Skype or Discord if possible or even IRC. This is more my preferred way of
discussing things since email is pretty much snailmail for me and I expect you will have quite a few questions which I can better answer in realtime. If
you want to join us on Discord all you need is to set up an account and poke me (Schism Navigator) on here: https://discord.gg/starcontrol

[https://discordapp.com/assets/ee7c382d9257652a88c8f7b7f22a994d.png]<https://discord.gg/starcontrol>

Discord - Free voice and text chat for gamers<https://discord.gg/starcontrol>
discord.gg
Step up your game with a modern voice & text chat app. Crystal clear voice, multiple server and channel support, mobile apps, and more. Get your free
server now!



On the other hand, if you prefer to have this chat all via email I'll do my best to accommodate you.


Kindest Regards,

Henry Pailing

Quote
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2018 21:59:47 +0200 (CEST)
From: Serge van den Boom
To: Henry Pailing
Subject: Re: UQM Project

Hello Henry,

As you may or may not know, the UQM project is led by four core team
members. While I may have been the more visible person in the past, and
I am the one who administers the UQM forum and the Ultronomicon, I
cannot generally speak for all of us, and I certainly cannot make any
decisions about the future of the project on my own.

I therefor do prefer to use email, as this gives me the chance to
discuss your points with the others before responding.

I do apologise for the consequence that this will make the conversation
slower than it would otherwise be.

That said, I am certainly interested in hearing what Stardock's thoughts
are regarding the future of the UQM project.


Regards,


Serge

Quote
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2018 01:49:26 +0000
From: Henry Pailing
To: Serge van den Boom
Subject: Re: UQM Project
Attachments: UQM perpetual trademark license v1.pdf (http://uqm.stack.nl/files/lawsuit/email/UQM perpetual trademark license v1.pdf)

Hello Serge,

I was not aware that there was a four-person core team involved. Is it the case that any decision has to be decided unanimously by all four then? You are
free to forward the contents of this email to the other core members of the UQM project as this is intended as an offer to the UQM Project as a whole.

We like UQM and our founders who have been helping us shape Star Control: Origins have explicitly asked us to support the Ur-Quan Masters project. You
may or may not be aware that Stardock has a long history of supporting the modding and fan communities of our games. In fact, some of our people were
hired from the modding community as well, that includes me by the way.

As a show of good faith from our end, we would like to grant your project a perpetual license to the "Ur-Quan Masters" trademark at no cost to
yourselves. This will allow you to continue using the Ur-Quan Masters name in connection with the project, so long as it remains a non-commercial
endeavour.

I know this might seem a little unusual, but it is all to make sure the lawyers are happy. The guys here, that is to say, the team working on Star
Control: Origins including the CEO himself want the Ur-Quan Masters project to continue on without any interference or legal technicalities getting in
the way. In the near future we also hope to release the Star Control 3 source code and assets.

As a bonus, we would also like to give you and the rest of the UQM core team copies of Star Control: Origins and invite you to try out the beta,
including the modding tools we have been building into it. One of our main goals is to create an engine which allows amazingly creative and dedicated
fans such as yourselves to tell, retell and remix your own adventures and we would appreciate your input.

Attached is a version of the perpetual license agreement. It has been pre-filled out with your name but it can be modified as required and sent through
DocuSign whenever possible. If you have any questions about it or anything else I've said here just ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Kindest Regards,

Henry.

Quote
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 17:53:13 +0000
From: Henry Pailing
To: Serge van den Boom
Subject: Re: UQM Project

Hello Serge,


Just following up to check that you got my last message on the 5th. Hope to hear back from you soon.


Regards,

Henry Pailing

Quote
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2018 20:12:46 +0000
From: Henry Pailing
To: Serge van den Boom
Subject: Re: UQM Project

Hey Serge,


Just another reminder. I hope everything is okay.


Regards,

Henry Pailing

Quote
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2018 15:14:33 -0400
From: Brad Wardell
To: Serge van den Boom
Cc: Henry Pailing, legal@stardock.com, David May
Subject: The Ur-Quan Masters project
Attachments: UQM perpetual license agreement v2.pdf (http://uqm.stack.nl/files/lawsuit/email/UQM perpetual license agreement v2.pdf)

Hi Serge,

My colleague, Henry Pailing, has been in contact with you regarding the UQM
project.

I'm aware that the UQM is led by a team of four members and that you are
the one who administers the UQM forum and the Ultronomicon.

As you know, Stardock acquired the Star Control trademarks in 2013 and we
very much want to support the UQM project.

Unfortunately, a trademark dispute between Paul and Fred and Stardock has
arisen forcing us to lock down the Star Control related trademarks
including the Ur-Quan Masters trademark.

Some fans have been concerned that Stardock's trademark enforcement might
have negative consequences for the UQM project.  To help alleviate these
concerns we'd like a representative of the UQM who has administrative
access to the site to sign a trademark licensing agreement that will allow
UQM to continue forward as it always has.

With our release of the new Star Control game, we want to clear up any
confusion or fan concerns regarding the trademark rights surrounding Star
Control.  For that reason, I'm going to have to ask that you or one of the
other members with administrative access to the UQM project site to sign
the trademark license no later than Friday, August 3.

I am attaching an updated version of the agreement that provides more
protection for the UQM project than v1 did.  We are very interested in
seeing the UQM project continue forward and want to avoid seeing it being
drawn into this dispute.

If you or the other members have any questions, please don't hesitate to
ask.

Thanks,

Brad

Quote
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2018 19:44:13 +0200 (CEST)
From: Serge van den Boom
To: Brad Wardell
Cc: Henry Pailing, legal@stardock.com, David May
Subject: Re: The Ur-Quan Masters project

Hi Brad,

I am glad that Stardock is supportive of the UQM project, and that you
want to alleviate the fan concerns that Stardock's trademark enforcement
might have negative consequences for the UQM project.

I do not feel, however, that signing an agreement is necessary, or
indeed, in the best interest of the UQM project, or the community.

First of all, I do not have any reason to conclude that you in fact have
any tenable claim to the The Ur-Quan Masters trademark; the assets which
Stardock bought from the Atari bankruptcy sale included no claims on
this trademark, nor have you yourself used it in commerce.
On the other hand, we (the UQM team), and creators of spin-off projects,
have been continuously using 'The Ur-Quan Masters', under the auspices
of Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, since 2001.

Second, in your agreement, you want us to state that Stardock *does* own
the trademark rights, and to the extend that *we* do, assign those
trademark rights to Stardock. That seems like a step backwards to me.

Third, if we were to sign your agreement, we could not transfer or
sublicense the rights which you gave to us, which is incompatible with
an Open Source project which could be abandoned and continued by
different people at any time.

Fourth, if you do not like the way in which we use the trademarks, you
could in theory unilaterally revoke the license at any time, leaving us
with nothing.

That said, I do think that there is a genuine concern within the fan
community that Stardock's trademark enforcement might have negative
consequences for the UQM project. Not because it is perceived that your
trademark claims would stand up to scrutiny, but because a small Open
Source project of a few individuals is no match against a large company
backed by a law firm, if that company were to decide to use the Open
Source project as a pawn in a legal battle with the original creators of
the game.

Fortunately, there is a way to alleviate those concerns, and show the
fans that you would not act in bad faith against the community.

What I am suggesting is that you unilaterally grant a full and
non-revocable license to whatever necessary intellectual property rights
you hold to the community. It is my understanding that it is in fact not
required to have the licensee assert that the licensor actually has the
rights they are licensing; you could instead say 'to the degree that we
own ...'.

You could probably just publish such a license grant on Stardock's
website, and it would put a few minds at ease.

Please consider it. After all, with your new game on the way, some
positive attention is always welcome.


Regards,

Serge van den Boom


On behalf of the UQM core team:
    Serge van den Boom
    Mika Kolehmainen
    Michael Chapman Martin
    Alex Volkov


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on September 23, 2018, 11:09:24 pm
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on September 23, 2018, 11:23:35 pm
This was urged on by the community. The threads in question are publicly available for anyome to read and verify.
[...]
But like I said, we aren’t the ones who pushed for this. If UQM doesn’t want to sign an agreement, then don’t.

So, this doesn't square with what the emails and license wording show:

First, as I noted earlier, the community requests (which I believe mostly came from me), were not to have the UQM community sign an agreement, but to make a blanket grant guaranteeing its safety.

Second, Henry was the one to approach Serge, not the other way around.  It looks like he came in with the "carrot", saying that the license agreement was being offered because:

Quote from: Henry Pailing
...we wish to make it clear that we have no intention of interfering with the Ur-Quan Masters project now or anytime in the future.

Finally, when Serge did not respond, you came in with the "stick", insisting that they sign:

Quote from: Brad Wardell
I'm going to have to ask that you or one of the other members with administrative access to the UQM project site to sign the trademark license no later than Friday, August 3.

I also notice that when you sent the revised agreement to him, you called out that it "provides more protection than v.1 did".  I do see some language added about it being "perpetual", but that language is rendered effectively meaningless by the language giving Stardock sole discretionary power to determine quality, and revoke the license on that basis at any time.  

However, I note that for some reason, you failed to call out the changed language in v.2 that would:
* Explicitly bring the starship and character designs into the trademark claim,
* Ban the UQM team from taking a position contrary to Stardock's ownership of the trademark, and
* Assign any rights they might already have to Stardock.  

So, I think I would describe v.2 as a bait-and-switch.

In sum, it's pretty clear to me that the main effect of these "licenses" was not to protect the UQM project, but to snatch ownership of any trademark rights that it might have accrued in the games over the past 16 years.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: meep-eep on September 23, 2018, 11:36:13 pm
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.
This was the end of the chain.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.
Almost. Unless the screenshots where you were shown having posted part of this exchange on your own private channel, with the 'eliminating the vile little community' remark, were fake.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: WibbleNZ on September 23, 2018, 11:40:37 pm

Almost true, but not quite.  My suggestion was to offer a unilateral license, not to try to get the UQM team to sign one:


I'm not sure that's actually possible. Both sides of a contract must give something for it to be a valid contract.

Considering that it is at least possible (despite Brad's insistence that the UQM project is not in commerce) that common law rights to the mark "The Ur-Quan Masters" (and alien names, if any count as marks) belong to Serge van den Boom, Mika Kolehmainen, Michael Chapman Martin, and Alex Volkov; signing anything before ownership details are settled sounds premature. Especially one that assigns any potential rights to Stardock.

The language of the proposed agreement "WHEREAS, Licensee is currently using the Marks..." implies that the UQM project is using them in commerce (that's what it means to be using a mark) and therefore has been, unopposed, since its creation.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on September 23, 2018, 11:46:52 pm
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.
This was the end of the chain.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.
Almost. Unless the screenshots where you were shown having posted part of this exchange on your own private channel, with the 'eliminating the vile little community' remark, were fake.


That privately made remark was made during the DMCA attacks in our game while simultaneously vile little comments were being made. A short time later, Death cleaned them up.  I’m not sure if you’ve been paying much attention lately but a lot of pretty nasty, personal attacks have been directed at me and yes, I confess that in private they have on occasion pissed me off. 

But that those private comments were not about UQM but the forum, have no connection to the license agreement and were still weeks ago regarding a situation that is no longer relevant.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: kaminiwa on September 23, 2018, 11:48:54 pm
Just reading through the license agreements, and seeing if anything hasn't already been called out.

From v1:

Quote
"Licensee shall not (...) take any action to (...) detract from the value of the Mark.

It seems this would prohibit saying negative things about Stardock / boycotting SC:O?

Quote
Upon any such termination, Licensee shall immediately discontinue any use of the Mark, and shall take whatever action that Licensor directs with respect
to the disposition of any branding or other materials that bears the Mark

So, if the license gets revoked, the project is actually in a worse position than it started? Right now, there seems to be agreement on both sides that a license isn't necessary for the UQM, but a terminated license would still force them to stop using materials that they don't need a license to?

---

From v2:

v1 only claimed the UQM trademark, while this version instead specifies "including but not limited to the following marks: STAR CONTROL, THE UR-QUAN MASTERS, alien names, spaceship names, character designs and/or spaceship designs (collectively the “Marks”) "

Quote
Should it at any time be determined that Licensee at any time established any rights to the Marks prior to the Effective Date of this Agreement, Licensee hereby agrees to assign and does assign any and all of its right, title and interest in and to said Marks and all goodwill associated therewith

Seriously Brad? This is the version that adds protections for the UQM?

Quote
It may only be terminated if there is a change in control of the project or if there is a violation of section 2 of this license.

A step up from "terminated at any cause", but section 2 is broad enough that I don't see a practical difference.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: kaminiwa on September 23, 2018, 11:56:04 pm
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.

It feels weird that this was the end of it - is there a reason you can't take the original agreement, drop the "3. Ownership" clause, and rewrite "5. Termination" to merely terminate the license instead of prohibiting even legal / "fair use" of the mark? I can't come up with a quick rewrite of "6. No Sublicensing", but I'd assume there's some common wording for assigning it to the project as a whole / allowing people to pass it down to their replacement if they leave the project.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Frogboy on September 24, 2018, 12:14:49 am
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.

It feels weird that this was the end of it - is there a reason you can't take the original agreement, drop the "3. Ownership" clause, and rewrite "5. Termination" to merely terminate the license instead of prohibiting even legal / "fair use" of the mark? I can't come up with a quick rewrite of "6. No Sublicensing", but I'd assume there's some common wording for assigning it to the project as a whole / allowing people to pass it down to their replacement if they leave the project.

My role is to deliver documents back and forth. If Serge wanted to modify it and send it back I would have forwarded his changes to the appropriate people and they’d evaluate.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on September 24, 2018, 12:30:55 am
Just to note where I think this plays into the case:

Stardock's application (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87720654&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch) to register the "Ur-Quan Masters" trademark has recently been delayed (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn87720654&docId=OOA20180910091959#docIndex=0&page=1) because they have not been able to provide a valid proof of use in commerce.

If Serge had signed this license, Stardock would have been able to claim the availability of UQM downloads as its own use in commerce, and send them in to the trademark office to secure its claim.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: ArilouSkuff on September 24, 2018, 01:01:04 am
But that those private comments were not about UQM but the forum, have no connection to the license agreement and were still weeks ago regarding a situation that is no longer relevant.

Okay... aaaand how exactly were you thinking of using "all out war" to shut down two individual fan forums while leaving their domains intact?

You can claim that was a baseless rant that you had no intention on acting on if you want, but to try and say you were thinking of only targeting forums when there's no reasonable way for you to do that without attempting to use your trademark claims to attack the overall sites they're hosted on is absurd.

Also, if fan attacks are getting to you this much, therapy is cheaper and more effective in the long run than "all out war" schemes.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: WibbleNZ on September 24, 2018, 01:09:38 am
Just to note where I think this plays into the case:

Stardock's application (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87720654&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch) to register the "Ur-Quan Masters" trademark has recently been delayed (https://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn87720654&docId=OOA20180910091959#docIndex=0&page=1) because they have not been able to provide a valid proof of use in commerce.


It appears to be delayed because the specimens were not correctly accompanied by signed affidavits, because the use (sales of SCII) has been suspended, and queries about the ongoing litigation - but the specimens themselves were acceptable.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on September 24, 2018, 01:34:29 am
It appears to be delayed because the specimens were not correctly accompanied by signed affidavits, because the use (sales of SCII) has been suspended, and queries about the ongoing litigation - but the specimens themselves were acceptable.

That's the problem though:  With GoG sales suspended, Stardock is not currently using the "Ur-Quan Masters" mark in commerce - and cannot, unless they want to open themselves up to more copyright liability and potential DMCAs from P&F.  If they could use the UQM website as their own specimen of use in commerce, it would fix that problem.

EDIT:  Even the earlier GoG sales seem like a poor example of use in commerce, because for most of that time, the phrase "Ur-Quan Masters" was never displayed until the user was already playing the game.  It wasn't until the lawsuit started that Stardock began adding the subtitle to the store pages, and that was probably why P&F quickly DMCAed them.  Being able to claim UQM's usage as its own would give Stardock the ability to show continued use going all the way back to 2002 or so.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Defender on September 24, 2018, 01:52:06 am
i came back to just say wow and WOW...dont sign anything...i'm speaking for myself, but i want nothing from stardock or their game...i want a true sequel to star control 2 : the ur quan masters and the only ones qualified to deliver that is fred and paul...end of story.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: metamorphosis on September 24, 2018, 02:57:17 am
Just a personal message to Brad: I can understand  where you're coming from. I think fan communities can be vile and malignant sometimes, particularly when people have little skin in the game (and sometimes even where they do). But honestly, taking this line of attack (with both Fred & Paul, and the community) is no good. Only lawyers win.
The best case scenario is where Fred & Paul keep all story/character rights, you get to keep sc1/sc2/sc3 on gog (which serves as marketing for both games - I don't agree that UQM can't coexist with an official sc2 gog release), and everybody goes their separate ways. But the constant back and forth of  - let's be honest - legal dick-measuring - harms everyone except the lining of the justice system.

I hope you can resolve it, particularly with your game being in the clear now.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on September 24, 2018, 03:45:35 am
I am glad that the organizers of this community and this project have not signed anything with Stardock.

I am glad that no one is buying the public spin.

Please, everyone, be careful. And if anyone from Stardock approaches you with a legal offer, or a legal threat for that matter, I'd encourage you to ignore it. When in doubt, share it, or even send someone (e.g.: me) a private message.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on September 24, 2018, 06:18:53 am
I would like to think that most of you understand the difference between being angry versus acting on that anger.  

Most of us do. The question is, do you?

You have an anger problem. It runs deeper than weird toxic outbursts that you try to spin after the fact.

You yourself have done more damage to your own company with your angry outbursts than the edited GOTP announcement.

Even ignoring your public words, your public actions with the lawsuit have cost your company far more than the edited GOTP announcement. And the lawsuit itself is so obviously a crusade by a deeply insecure and angry person, who lashed out and is now stubbornly clinging to a grudge, instead of picking up the phone and settling on an obvious compromise (https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/80jm2w/for_those_interested_paul_and_freds_unedited/duxg4ib/).

See a therapist. It's way cheaper.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: tingkagol on September 24, 2018, 12:38:38 pm
Quote from: Frogboy
This was urged on by the community. The threads in question are publicly available for anyome to read and verify.
But like I said, we aren’t the ones who pushed for this. If UQM doesn’t want to sign an agreement, then don’t.
So noble of Stardock to want to "protect" the UQM open source project - almost out of the blue... until people read what the CEO really thinks of the community. Have some shame please. It's sickening.

Quote from: Elestan
Just to note where I think this plays into the case:

Stardock's application to register the "Ur-Quan Masters" trademark has recently been delayed because they have not been able to provide a valid proof of use in commerce.
Nice catch.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: bum783 on September 24, 2018, 06:59:06 pm
We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.

I do not reply often, but felt I needed to here. A long time ago I was super critical of Stardock.  After the news of Ghosts I started watching everything and have to say I was slowly becoming more of a fan of Stardock. In fact as much as a month ago I was actually excited to buy Origins.

When I was reading this email chain 1 particular part stuck out.

"I'm going to have to ask that you or one of the
other members with administrative access to the UQM project site to sign
the trademark license no later than Friday, August 3."

"We are very interested in
seeing the UQM project continue forward and want to avoid seeing it being
drawn into this dispute."

This particular wording reminds of a Mafia movie lol. DO what we want, when we want. I would hate for something bad to happen to you. At the very least its a scare tactic which is just as bad.
As Elestan put it, "Brad came in with a stick" is exactly how I saw it. Brad has commented several times how he sometimes lets his emotions alter his statements.  A CEO of a major company who cant show self restraint on a friggin internet forum isnt exactly trustworthy in my opinion.

I was intending on purchasing Origins. I laughed at the idea that this lawsuit would deter anyone from purchasing the first star control game in decades. I thought fans would be excited no matter what was being said or done in court. Here we are a week after the release, and that thought appears to have been false.  It wasnt  the lawsuit with Paul & Fred that made me decide not to purchase Origins, it wasnt comments on this forum from fans or admins that made me decide not to buy Origins. It was the comments made directly by Brad Wardell in this forum, in his emails, and even on his own own forums.  I would venture to guess that in the end Brads public displays will cost Stardock more sales than Paul & Fred ever could have.


Finally I do not work for Paul and Freds PR firm as Brad has so often accused people of doing with low comment totals.
Im a regular fan in Michigan, nobody special. Id be happy to prove that  at any time


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: kaminiwa on September 24, 2018, 10:10:06 pm
Finally I do not work for Paul and Freds PR firm as Brad has so often accused people of doing with low comment totals.

Just a tangent, but the PR firm was only active for about a month, February to March 2018. Court records included all the email correspondence, which makes it pretty easy to tell when they were active. Anyone who is still complaining about the PR firm is a good six months out of date :)


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: BetterOffEd on September 25, 2018, 12:13:19 am
I'm new to this forum, but an old StarCon 2 fan. I've gone by PkunkFury on NeoGaf for well over 15 years, and use the same name on Playstation Network. I switched usernames on other services about 5 years ago after getting sick of explaining what it meant to friends. Just figured I should throw out some "cred" so @frogboy doesn't accuse me of being a PR firm plant.

I had long given up on getting a new Star Control game. I signed the petition ages ago, nothing came of it. Downloaded and enjoyed UQM, recommended it to a few friends who were new to the series, play it every now and then when I have time to kill. But I always thought Star Control was gone, and based on StarCon 3 and that terrible novel (Interbellum?) I figured, maybe it was for the best.

Needless to say, I was shocked when I wandered by Star Control Origins at PAX this year. I haven't been following any of the hubbub online. I had no idea this was being made. But I remembered that petition. And I saw the art, which looks so perfectly Star Control (unlike Star Con 3). I heard some of the music. I was overjoyed

But I, like every Star Control 2 fan, suffered through Star Control 3 (it wasn't thaaaaaat bad, it just wasn't what is should have been). Fool me once, shame on you... So I scrutinized the demo a bit. I didn't recognize any of the alien species (bad sign). So I asked the attendant if the original creators were involved, he didn't know. Expectations tempered. I got online that night, and what do I find but a shitstorm even worse than the one that was kicked up around Star Con 3. Let's just say I can't believe this is happening, again, and that a so called "fan" precipitated it

Needless to say I have not bought Star Control Origins, and will not purchase it until the lawsuit is settled and P&F are working on their sequel unhindered. I am someone Stardock would've have liked to have sold Origins to. Someone who made Star Control Super Melee popular among a handful of friends in the 90s, and someone who has since encouraged said friends to download the various attempts at online Super Melees as new iterations come out. Needless to say I have contacted said friends and warned them not to purchase this game, explaining that it is another Star Control 3. I am also done purchasing Stardock games until this resolved. And remember, I am someone who bought and played Star Con 3 despite knowing that Accolade worked around P&F. I was still willing to support the series and give the new team a chance since it seemed the rights were being handled appropriately. I gave the game a fair shake, as I would have Origins. I even like that the Percursors were Ortoggs! (gasp)

To @Frogboy, I have since read most of your posts, your one-sided FAQ, your shoddy, incomplete defenses of your actions (in a franchise where the fans are already familiar with this type of behavior and are conditioned to watch for it, no less. Why did you think this would work??). I'm certainly appalled by your behavior, both as a CEO and as a "fan". Your actions are consistently underhanded and your comments from the Discord chats come as no surprise. What's worse, is now I see you intend to roll out all SC2 species in your new games, but make them "different" in a different continuity. This is after you complained that P&F were causing "confusion" with the series. You are taking a bad situation and making it into an unmitigated mess. Inviting comparisons to the best game ever made by re-implementing everything with your own take is bound to fail. The comparisons invite themselves, and you put yourself in a worse position than Johnson did when he tried to reinvent Luke Skywalker. Allow me to leave you with the words of a very smart man:

"Don't go off and say, 'I have my own artistic vision.' Okay, good -- so call it something else. Don't ride the coattails of the people who came before you to launch your own artistic vision."

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20998

I also see that you are now threatening UQM, and attempting to use them as a pawn in your fight with P&F, when UQM has existed to keep this wonderfuld game alive for all of us for the past 15 years on P&Fs goodwill. It's mind numbing

I would like to add my voice to the many, many others who have claimed they happily would've bought both Origins and GOTP if this nonsense hadn't escalated. Heck, I think the idea for a prequel to SC2 is inspired. There's certainly room to play through the first contact story as an adventure game. You continue to pop up here and in other forums, yet I've never seen you provide a satisfying reason why you didn't amend or accept the very reasonable settlement P&F proposed, which seemed to give both parties the rights to create exactly what they claimed they wanted to create. Instead you went nuclear.

I don't think anyone who knows of Star Control 2 took P&F's GOTP announcement to mean Origins was invalid. We all know that the "real" sequel to Star Control 2 language was referring to the title we have all deemed a "fake" sequel to Star Control 2 at this point, Star Con 3. From what I'm seeing, you even promoted GOTP as the "true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (i.e. Star Control III is not canon for that universe)." then went back and changed your posts so you could play victim. Once again, you are dishonest and don't deserve my money. I just don't understand why you would do it. You wanted that game to exist just as much as the rest of us, and you still could've made your own artistic vision a reality without riding on anyone's coat tails. You know damn well that this is a niche but thirsty market which would've happily supported both products

I guess you guys can ban me or whatever if this was too harsh. Just understand Star Control 2 was a big part of my life, it really hurt thinking a new game was coming and then seeing the mess it is leaving in its wake. I needed to vent, thanks for the time


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on September 25, 2018, 05:53:29 am
I probably won't buy SCO either. I might've gotten it in on sale two or three years after the release, but everything I've seen about the lawsuit and Stardock has convinced me that, even if it turns out to be a pretty good game, it's not a company I want to give a single cent to.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Zanthius on September 25, 2018, 10:53:30 am
If they had made SCO available for Linux I might have bought it, but there is no chance that I ever will install Windows on one of my computers again.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Mormont on September 25, 2018, 02:02:00 pm
I was a late founder for Origins (signed up after Ghosts was announced) and even spent some time in the Discord. Part of the reason I did it was that Wardell did so much to associate himself and Origins with Ghosts -  I assumed the "multiverse" connection must have had Fred and Paul's blessing, for example. When this controversy first broke through Fred and Paul's blog posts I tried to give Stardock the benefit of the doubt. It didn't last long though, because even before the news of the actual suit went public there was too much in SD's narrative that didn't make sense.

If this could have been settled on reasonable terms, I probably would have still played the game with dampened enthusiasm, but it is well past that point now. I did not ask for a refund, partly out of laziness and partly because I did not want to give Stardock the satisfaction of using it for damages. However, I have had Steam permanently delete the game from my account and expect I will never play it.

"Star Control" is not a name that means something to a lot of people. Even UQM's 2 million downloads, while impressive, are stretched out over 15+ years and include many repeat downloads and I'm sure many more who grabbed it just cause it was free and barely played it. It does have a passionate fanbase who might have still formed a decent-sized sales base for Origins. But Stardock has done so much to alienate and antagonize said fanbase (seriously, Wardell's constant posting and picking fights on forums has done him immense harm in people's opinion of him, not to mention that it will be used as evidence) I'm not sure who the target audience for the game is now. Like it's gotten lukewarm reviews, so who exactly is going to buy Origins now besides loyal Stardock fans, who would have bought it under any name?

My hunch is that Wardell thought his very supportive founders in Discord represented Star Control fans in general more than they really did and so the damage wouldn't be too bad.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Krulle on September 25, 2018, 02:27:24 pm
(seriously, Wardell's constant posting and picking fights on forums has done him immense harm in people's opinion of him, not to mention that it will be used as evidence)
From my viewpoint, that is among the biggest plus to SC:O so far. That Mr. Wardell is still coming up here and answers posts here.
(The biggest being that the game actually got published, and carries a na,e I connect to great memories, despite knowing that the game has been made by others than the original creators credited by the original publisher, without the involvement of the original creators.)

I'm in the process of selecting a new PC, and actually saw that at least one graphic card manufacturer gives away SC:O with his cards.
But I've been watching some of the "let's play" videos popping up on youtube.
The game is close to what I was hoping for.

But there are some points I dislike very much, and you encounter them very early in the game.

But indeed, because of several reasons I won't be buying SC:O soon,
- lack of time to play at home (wait two years, and my kids will play for me).
- this mess with money being spent for lawyers, delaying the story-game I want to play.
- my PC still not up to a level where I actually could play SC:O.


There are some things I dislike very much, though.
(click to show/hide)


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on September 25, 2018, 06:15:34 pm
Most of us are fans who would have been happy enough to have a "SC-like" game. I remember bookmarking Stardock's dev forums a bunch of years ago, watching with cautious optimism. Like many people, I started following more closely with the GOTP announcement. The rest we've all been here for.

Taking the IP rights at face value, the obvious compromise would have been Stardock's "SC-like" being sold as Star Control: Origins, and P&F's sequel to SC2 (yes, sequel, in the sense of continuing the SC2 story) being sold as GOTP. It would have been incredibly easy to make an SC-like without Precursors or Arilou or Melnorme. Even easier to make a sequel without the "Star Control" name on the box.

Stardock decided that all of our opinions are invalid because we have been spun by a pro-P&F PR campaign, if not on their actual payroll. If you believe that conspiracy, it follows that any criticism of SC:O's story or gameplay is in bad faith, and a fanatical attack on Stardock. It also follows that the only neutral fans are the ones who mostly praise Stardock. The rest are part of a "vile community". Shut them down.

And it continues. The biggest game media like IGN and Gamespot have found the game to be mediocre. So, even the journalists are secretly in on the conspiracy. Fuck them. Who cares what they think, right?

Stardock has trapped themselves into a walled garden (https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/645/713/888.jpg). Can you make a successful 10 million dollar project with that?


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Defender on September 25, 2018, 10:25:04 pm
steam spy has sco at 52...up from 59 yesterday...but down from 1 on launch day...
me thinks stardock has already alienated the sc fans and thus divided his profits.
no im not going to buy it...yes i played it and found it meh...
stardock, i think, shot themselves in the foot by their actions...


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: kaminiwa on September 25, 2018, 11:47:30 pm
My role is to deliver documents back and forth. If Serge wanted to modify it and send it back I would have forwarded his changes to the appropriate people and they’d evaluate.

Serge did indeed send you a counter proposal, but the email thread ends without any Stardock response to it:

Fortunately, there is a way to alleviate those concerns, and show the
fans that you would not act in bad faith against the community.

What I am suggesting is that you unilaterally grant a full and
non-revocable license to whatever necessary intellectual property rights
you hold to the community. It is my understanding that it is in fact not
required to have the licensee assert that the licensor actually has the
rights they are licensing; you could instead say 'to the degree that we
own ...'.

You could probably just publish such a license grant on Stardock's
website, and it would put a few minds at ease.

Please consider it. After all, with your new game on the way, some
positive attention is always welcome.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Deus Siddis on September 27, 2018, 04:43:53 pm
"I'm going to have to ask that you or one of the
other members with administrative access to the UQM project site to sign
the trademark license no later than Friday, August 3."

"We are very interested in
seeing the UQM project continue forward and want to avoid seeing it being
drawn into this dispute."

This particular wording reminds of a Mafia movie lol. DO what we want, when we want. I would hate for something bad to happen to you. At the very least its a scare tactic which is just as bad.
[...]
Finally I do not work for Paul and Freds PR firm as Brad has so often accused people of doing with low comment totals.

Well as someone with a high comment total, I can verify that this is the impression Brad's escalating legal aggression and carefully-worded-not-quite-threats have, at this point, given a "non shill" as well.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Cedric6014 on October 02, 2018, 10:22:01 pm
So does me buying SC Origins undermine Fred and Paul’s ability to make Ghosts of the Precursors? And if so, how?


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: gnunk on October 02, 2018, 11:17:12 pm
Yes. Your buying SC:O contributes to Stardock's legal fund and their attempts to undermine Paul and Fred's legitimate intellectual property rights which are necessary to produce Ghost of the Precursors. Please don't do that.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Serosis on October 03, 2018, 09:01:04 am
Yes. Your buying SC:O contributes to Stardock's legal fund and their attempts to undermine Paul and Fred's legitimate intellectual property rights which are necessary to produce Ghost of the Precursors. Please don't do that.

That's just ridiculous. None of the money that goes to SCO goes to their legal proceedings. That gets absorbed straight into the gaming division to make up for the cost of SCO.
You don't magically make an $11 million deficit disappear.

Do what you want to do. But saying that buying SCO buys into the legal fund of Stardock is just plain wrong.

At best buying SCO buys Stardock out of their own hole.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on October 03, 2018, 01:42:45 pm
That's just obtuse.

I don't think there's a need to be insulting.

Quote
None of the money that goes to SCO goes to their legal proceedings. That gets absorbed straight into the gaming division to make up for the cost of SCO.

In a company Stardock's size, I strongly doubt that there is a legal separation between divisions that would prevent the money from going wherever Brad wants it to go.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on October 03, 2018, 05:01:19 pm
It's not complicated. The party with more money always has more bargaining power. The internal processes don't matter that much.

Just be practical. If Stardock releases a smashing success, they can afford to do whatever they want legally. The opposite is true if SC:O is a dud. They'd need to reallocate funds, which would prevent them from being as frivolous with the legal claims.



Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: ArilouSkuff on October 03, 2018, 06:24:57 pm
This is more of a cost benefit analysis situation. The more money Origins brings in, the more inclined Stardock is to continue to spend money fighting Fred and Paul in court. The worse it does, the more inclined they may be to cut their loses by settling. Revenue from the game won't directly flow into the lawsuit, but they will expect revenue from it and/or its sequels to eventually exceed both the game's development costs and these legal expenses.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Serosis on October 03, 2018, 07:31:29 pm
That's just obtuse.

I don't think there's a need to be insulting.

That's the second time i thought a word was something it wasn't.
Sorry about that, I need to start looking these words up before I use them, i used to be good with definitions.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on October 04, 2018, 05:38:09 am
To be fair, words often have multiple meanings, so you might be thinking of a particular meaning while forgetting there's another meaning that's quite insulting. For example, Wiktionary lists one meaning of obtuse as "indirect, circuitous".


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: ArilouSkuff on October 04, 2018, 06:34:49 am
To be fair, words often have multiple meanings, so you might be thinking of a particular meaning while forgetting there's another meaning that's quite insulting. For example, Wiktionary lists one meaning of obtuse as "indirect, circuitous".

Context, however, is key. I'm not aware of "obtuse" being used on people to say they're indirect. That definition is typically reserved for a path or route.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Serosis on October 04, 2018, 06:03:05 pm
Well I didn't want anyone to think I was directly insulting them so I redacted the word for good measure.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Talonious on October 09, 2018, 08:08:59 pm
I've been checking back here every so often as the legal proceedings have played out. Because they tend to play out with dramatic bursts of new information followed by long periods of silence, I didn't feel the need to read every day.

But this is definitely new, and to me personally very disappointing, information. I purchased Star Control: Origins as a founder and, if I wasn't finishing up the post-game content of Dragon Quest XI, I would be playing it right now. It is a game that I was looking forward to despite the legal mess as there just aren't that many similar games out there.

Like many others, I would have been more than content to support both projects: Origins and GOTP

I also think that public opinion outside of Stardock's own forums has swung dramatically against them during the course of the last year and that much of that has been a series of self-inflicted wounds. Initially, I think far more people were of the opinion that F&P had had plenty of time to step up and make a new game and had never done so and that the GOTP announcement timing was suspicious at best than there are now. Still, I assumed a rational compromise would prevail at some point and this mess could be quietly forgotten.

However, after reading the screen shots posted earlier my opinion has changed conclusively. I now regret my purchase of Origins and would be very dubious to support any future Stardock projects going forward despite having a deep fondness for many of their games. The combination of Stardock's legal strategy, their attempt to draw in this fan community, and their CEO's private threatening of future retribution and vengeance despite a far more friendly public persona has convinced me beyond a doubt that they are not to be trusted going forward.

Certainly, an argument can be made that it was just blowing off steam in private and once he had calmed down there would be no attempt to actually ACT on that expressed threat. In fact, I have seen that argument made by him in this thread. But the combination of those threats in private, including the direct statement that the community only exists at his mercy, and the attempts to make the team here sign over legal agreements make the argument it was just idle venting unconvincing to me.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on October 10, 2018, 02:48:34 pm
Rather than calling the GOTP announcement timing suspicious, I think it was just an unfortunate coincidence – the announcement was timed to coincide with some anniversary of the game's release or something, after all, and it was just unfortunate that that came close to impinging on SCO, which also had plans timed to coincide with the anniversary.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Mormont on October 10, 2018, 04:02:05 pm
Quote from: Talonious
I also think that public opinion outside of Stardock's own forums has swung dramatically against them during the course of the last year and that much of that has been a series of self-inflicted wounds.

Here is something I wrote back in December ‘17 at the PNF, when the early stages of the controversy had gone public, I had heard some of SD’s perspective as a founder, and I still wanted to believe it was some kind of good-faith misunderstanding.

Quote
Brad,

First of all I will believe you have good intentions and don't want you to be kicked out.

Quote from: Brad Wardell
I'm not a lawyer so I am not going to make speculate on things like the Ur-Quan Masters other than to say Stardock is glad it exists and is supportive of that effort and will never take any action to interfere with it.
That said, it's easy to see how one could read this sort of statement as a subtle threat. If Ur-quan Masters is of questionable legality and exists by Stardock's good graces (which seems to logically follow if we grant all your other premises), that can be revoked at any time. Now I believe you when you say you support UQM and don't want to go after it, but I would still be worried reading that in F&P's place and would probably think "I need a lawyer.”

<snip, talk about F/P’s historic understanding of the SC rights>

Could they be mistaken about this, could there be more ambiguities than they imagined? It's possible, though if they are wrong I doubt things are as definitive as Stardock's side either. But it makes sense that they would feel threatened about being told otherwise, however polite the language. I can understand why they feel backed into a corner, even if I can't assess all the legal arguments and their public blog posts are probably imprudent.
I think I’m trying very hard to be charitable to Stardock there, though even then I didn’t find Wardell’s reassurances about the future of UQM entirely convincing.

So how did I go from this to a vile subversive who deleted Origins from his Steam account? Well, obviously it can only be because Fred and Paul have been so aggressive with their smear campaign and paid Singer PR to seed this forum with sockpuppets.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on October 10, 2018, 04:04:47 pm
Certainly, an argument can be made that it was just blowing off steam in private and once he had calmed down there would be no attempt to actually ACT on that expressed threat. In fact, I have seen that argument made by him in this thread. But the combination of those threats in private, including the direct statement that the community only exists at his mercy, and the attempts to make the team here sign over legal agreements make the argument it was just idle venting unconvincing to me.

The other problem with the claim that it was just private venting is that that wasn't the first time (https://0bin.net/paste/LUet5738Nn06BlFa#+lo-z77Wk9LU/rzi1KJj6xPorxfUBK1UrLkxazmvixm) he'd made the threat:

Quote from: Frogboy on the Founders' Discord on 2018-05-09
The UQM forum may need to go away.
At the rate it's going.
If we're going to be "the devil" anyway, then might as well get rid of the hives.

That shows premeditation; he was thinking about killing off this forum months prior to the screenshotted threat (which appears to have been from early August).  Moreover, the last version of Stardock's complaint (https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.320268/gov.uscourts.cand.320268.51.0.pdf) asked the court for an injunction enforceable against "The Ur-Quan Masters".  As long as those trademark applications and injunction requests are being pursued, this is like watching someone who has said they want to "eliminate" you pull out and slowly load a legal gun, while promising that they would never, ever, actually shoot you with it.  Is it any surprise that people are suspicious?  This makes it look a lot like we're being held hostage to try to gain leverage against P&F.

As for the license agreement, I do not find his claims credible:
My role is to deliver documents back and forth. If Serge wanted to modify it and send it back I would have forwarded his changes to the appropriate people and they’d evaluate.

He's been posting on these forums since he bought the trademark, and repeatedly claimed both to care about this community (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7182.msg79048#msg79048), and to be a veteran trademark litigant (https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/8rpgqd/star_control_origins_using_arilou/e0vbmn2/).  So having both the expertise to read the trademark license, and a personal interest in the outcome, there's no way that he didn't read and understand the implications of the license he sent to Serge (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=7396.msg79432#msg79432) and told him to sign.  And I find it quite disingenuous and rather cowardly that he blames his lawyers every time Stardock takes an unpopular legal action.  He is Stardock's CEO, and the lawyers work for him, so he doesn't get to duck that responsibility.  If Serge were to make (another) counter-offer, Brad's lawyers might interpret the language, but Brad would be the one making the decision.  

If Brad really wants to end the threat to UQM, here's my suggestion:  There's a new revision to Stardock's legal complaint due next Monday.  If the injunction request against "The Ur-Quan Masters" was removed, I would take it as a very positive sign.  As an even more positive gesture, he could withdraw his trademark application for "The Ur-Quan Masters" and the SC2 alien race trademarks, thereby conclusively demonstrating that he isn't actually interested in threatening us.

Finally, as to this:

But that those private comments were not about UQM but the forum

He's trying to create a false distinction.  Like any open-source project, UQM is not just code, but also the community that grew around developing it.  Trying to say that he's only threatening the forums is nonsensical.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: PRH on October 10, 2018, 08:14:23 pm
Wow, Elestan.

I've just read the rest of the chat log you've linked, and Brad threatening to shut this forum down isn't NEARLY the worst thing he said there. Let's just see:

Quote
Frogboy - 05/09/2018
It is better that they just stay neutral.
Right now, we're still inclined to be supportive.
But this: http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/User:Pat#What_rights_are_protected_under_copyright.3F
Volasaurus - 05/09/2018
I think it's a bit of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The misinformed users need to go, but the modders and the ones who run the site don't need to.
Frogboy - 05/09/2018
is not acceptable.
I don't feel a lot of sympathy for Paul and Fred.
But their fans have done them real harm.
Because now we basically have no choice but to insist they lose completely in court.
Because their fans imagine they have all kinds of say over Star Control.
Let me be crystal clear: Paul and Fred have no rights whatsoever to Star Control.
No legal rights.
At best, they may have some alien paintings that were assigned to them.
and possibly the user manual.
That would be the total sum.
They were credited with a copyright of the DOS source code.
But that's not a federal copyright.
That's just common law and nobody is interested in it.

There will be no Ghosts of the Precursors.
Ever.

Serosis - 05/09/2018
Unless they can bone up and work with Stardock.
Volasaurus - 05/09/2018
Gas of the Precursors.
Frogboy - 05/09/2018

We will never work with them.
Any continuations to that story line will have to happen in some other medium.
Like a book or something.
Maybe.

I'd have to talk to legal on even that.

At this point, there is no reason to hope that Stardock is going to retract any of their claims against F&P, or try to settle the case. The only way it's going to end is in court. The only thing we have left is to hope that F&P are able to defend their copyright and their right to make GotP, however slim the chances of that may be.

...As I read that log again, I realized that I didn't take the date format into account. Initially I automatically assumed that the log was using the European date format, meaning that the conversation took place in September. But then I realized that the log was most likely using the American date format, which means that the conversation took place in May. The latter would make some sense, given that the Ultronomicon page about the litigation was also created in May (as far as I can remember). So if that's the case, I honestly don't know what to make of Brad's words. Either he's a massive hypocrite who has been telling us that he "wants" F&P to make their game while doing everything in his power to prevent it being made, or he was really that angry at the time (which is consistent with his actions in April and May), and cooled off later.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Mormont on October 11, 2018, 12:58:41 am
Or maybe Wardell has a tendency to get mad and lash out often. Maybe he vacillates between allowing Ghosts under specific terms in a vassal-overlord relationship (as he basically proposed in one e-mail Stardock released) and not allowing it at all, depending on his mood.

That said, "no Ghosts ever" is consistent with the settlement "offer" and their amended complaint, which wants to invalidate Reiche and Ford's copyrights while Wardell continues to insist he has zero interest in their copyrights.

I'm less optimistic about it now than I was earlier, but there could still be a settlement. Discovery is still ongoing until December - I imagine mostly focused on witness depositions by now (I have never been in litigation, just guessing) and not all the evidence is on the table yet. If either party were to become convinced that they have a pretty good chance of losing and listened to their lawyers, they would probably settle, at least if the other side is willing to offer somewhat reasonable terms.

Remember that Wardell can't really admit to weaknesses in his case, or at most he can say half-hearted things like "maybe the license expired, but it doesn't matter anyway" because anything you say can be used against you as evidence. Conceding a point is a legal liability, afaik. He has to project this absolute confidence even or perhaps especially when speaking in his private chat channel. What his lawyers actually tell him or what he may be thinking off the internet or what's happening in discovery at this point, hard to say.

Which, fair enough, that's how litigation works. But if you're limited in what you can say that's a reason to stay mostly quiet rather than tripling down on your side's narrative and getting in fights all over the internet.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: rosepatel on October 11, 2018, 04:07:19 am
Lashing out is when you use words you regret and immediately retract them.

Stardock first asked P&F to license their work. When they didn't, they vowed to start selling their games without their consent.

When they were challenged on selling the games without consent, they sued P&F for Trademark infringement.

When they were counter-sued, they then tried to seize the Star Control IP, through questionable Trademark applications and absurd settlement offers.

When they were called on this absurdity, they broke off settlement talks, and vowed that P&F would not make GOTP without their permission.

When several fan communities turned on them, they began looking for ways to attack individuals, let alone shut down entire communities.

The point is that Stardock lashes out with a lot more than words. They lash out with punitive, vindictive actions. When they're called out, they might walk back the words. But the actions keep becoming worse.

This is not a momentary burst of anger.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on October 11, 2018, 06:07:03 am
Either he's a massive hypocrite who has been telling us that he "wants" F&P to make their game while doing everything in his power to prevent it being made

It's technically deceptiveness, not hypocrisy (the latter imputes a double-standard), but at this point there are enough examples of him keeping up a very polite public face, while being very aggressive, demanding, and/or hostile in emails, settlement offers, and forums that he doesn't think the public will see.  Given that, I simply don't believe that we can take his words at face value; we must look at his actions.  And his actions, from the trademark filings, to the injunction requests, to the underhanded license offer, do not suggest that his intentions for this community are benign.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Mormont on October 12, 2018, 01:35:48 am
"Hypocrite" also has a more general meaning of a person who displays a false version of themselves to others. The root word is the ancient Greek term for an actor in a play.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: CommanderShepard on October 16, 2018, 01:59:21 am
With regards to my *private* venting
It should be noted to the public that Mr. Wardell and many of his own staff and supporters made claims on discord such as there is no such thing as private, that Mr. Wardell is open and that he has nothing to hide and has been continuously praised by his own staff and players for being open. So the fact that he is only now citing the privacy of his own company he prided for being open as a point of contention and only shortly after he made audacious claims about controlling the existence of a community in a maniacal manner should be an additional cause for concern over the integrity of his claims.

As yet another cause for concern, this quote

This doesn't make it okay to even entertain such opinions.

undermines the fact that Mr. Wardell himself made claims about Fred and Paul without the evidence to prove them, which is different than a mere rant since it is the basis of arguments in Stardock's claim filed against Fred and Paul, such as that Fred and Paul were not creators despite testimony from their former staff and despite that they have openly displayed pages upon pages upon pages of their original draft work on their blog. This is along with stating that Fred and Paul are rich as a means of undermining their funding campaign despite Mr. Wardell's admission that his own company will pay little or nothing for the lawyers taking on his company's case.

Upon asking the CEO whether he would protect the fan community by putting it in writing, he refused to and said he "can't make any promises". A loose forum agreement that is not a contract in writing has no chance of being enforced. So both months ago and recently, there is a trend that he refuses to officialize protecting the community. Extrapolating this pattern means he does not intend to in the future and could simply be waiting to attempt pulling the plug until after everything with Fred and Paul is settled since his own team can't actually confirm Stardock owns anything here until after the trial.

At this point, there is no reason to hope that
that Mr. Wardell is a lawyer, there is no reason to hope Mr. Wardell is a lawyer. There is a minor claim of trademark confusion due to a flier sent out by Fred and Paul for which they will most likely be asked to rename their project, but beyond that, fans of any kind of project have the freedom to express their opinions about it. It seems most of what he says is a simple scare tactic to garner sales by making them give up or turn them against Fred and Paul or simply just to advertise the existence of his game. Considering his opinions though, he would have shut down this community long ago if he actually owned it. Due to that same freedom, he can also say just about whatever he wants regardless of if it's true or not, there is no reason to take everything he says at face value.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Defender on October 16, 2018, 06:24:21 am
seems there is a growing problem with nvidia gpus and overheating with this game...be warned

https://forums.starcontrol.com/491165/page/1/#replies


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Szczepaniak on April 08, 2019, 05:23:23 pm
Is there a thread dedicated to playing this game?

Anyway, I bought it on a Steam sale, 50% off, and had to get a refund. It is unplayable. Literally unplayable.

I run my gaming rig on a 720p HDTV, and no matter what resolution I picked for the game, the HUD and all in-game text was too small to read. Also icons showing ship stats are too small to make out during combat. And there's no way to fix this.

I complained on the Steam page, where the devs regularly answer questions and help with bugs, and the asshats ignored me. Not cool.

There were also a few other people who made similar topics with the same problem. It's all so goddamned tiny!

So I got my money back.

I am shocked at how badly optimised this was. Clearly the coders all sit with their faces pressed up against their monitors, and not one of them PC games in an armchair at a sensible length from the screen. Idiots, bloody goddamned idiots!


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: Elestan on April 08, 2019, 05:27:59 pm
Is there a thread dedicated to playing this game?

Discussions regarding Stardock's ‘Star Control: Origins’, which is related to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters only by name, belong in the off-topic section of this forum, the Starbase Café. I will allow discussions regarding the lawsuit in ‘General UQM Discussion’, as it directly involves the future of the UQM universe, and it is now threatening the Ur-Quan Masters Community.

SC:O is not well-regarded here, for reasons explained in the first post of this thread.


Title: Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
Post by: CelticMinstrel on April 10, 2019, 04:28:31 am
There's one or two SCO-focused threads in the Starbase Cafe subforum. If there's any thread dedicated to playing it, it would be there.