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News: Paul & Fred have reached a settlement with Stardock!

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Longest UQM play-though concludes on: October 16, 2019, 02:08:41 am
What is almost certainly the longest-ever playthough of UQM has just concluded after over 4.5 years.  I think that this is probably the only game of UQM where the RL time exceeded the in-game time.

Congratulations and thanks to "The Troglodyte" for his highly entertaining recounting of his long journey.
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 23, 2019, 08:25:53 pm
it's rather interesting to see that Brad now says that common law trademark claims to alien names are "iffy".

Indeed.  For the last year and a half, he's tended to ridicule anyone who dared suggest such a thing.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 20, 2019, 04:15:45 pm
In any case, I'm expecting UQM2 to be released in 2021. Smiley

I don't think that's realistic.  If, as Brad says, they are now back at Activision, they probably will not be able to start work on it until after they have been able to arrange another leave of absence.  And then it will take several years to put a team together and produce a game.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 17, 2019, 03:55:14 pm
But a new announcement would cause new consumer confusion, and therefore is a new case, with a new alleged harm, and therefore not covered by this "with prejudice"....
That's what I'm afraid of....

I wonder if this was a motivation for Stardock requiring a change of name away from GotP.  Now any future announcement for a "new product" can justify a new lawsuit that circumvents the "old" and unrelated settlement.  At least in the mind of a CEO so experienced in the nuances of the law.

Presumably, the settlement document includes language prohibiting Brad from interfering with UQM2, as long as P&F don't use the phrase "Star Control" to announce it.

But I am concerned about the possibility of the disclosed settlement terms having been sugar-coated to make them more palatable to P&F's fans than the actual settlement language would be.  Why keep the document itself secret when all of the terms are supposedly public?  If there were business-sensitive numbers in it, those could be redacted, but not releasing the document at all just creates an opening for suspicion that there's something material being left out or misrepresented.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 13, 2019, 05:28:25 am
Didn't Wardell claim to have the SC1 source at one point? Or was that made up?

According to Serosis, the disc Brad was talking about turned out to be the production master, not the source code.

EDIT: Per followup, that disk was for SC3 (but still wasn't source).

Thinking about it, I believe the rumor I heard was that the SC1 source was lost when Fred's hard drive crashed.  Take that for whatever you think it's worth.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 13, 2019, 03:48:06 am
I don't know, can you?

Preemptively open source the code in case that it's ever found?

Maybe?  The trick would be specifying exactly what you were open-sourcing, when you don't have a copy.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 12, 2019, 08:39:19 am
As for the trademarks, what is there for Stardock to license to F&P? F&P already have the UQM and Frungy trademarks, and Stardock has dropped all trademark applications for the classic alien names. The Star Control and UQM franchises are now officially confirmed to go their separate ways.

Brad had, at times, argued the position that anything that could cause consumer confusion - such as sharing a universe with the prior Star Control games - required licensing the Star Control trademark.  That seemed too expansive an interpretation to me, and I doubted it would hold up if tested, but it would be nice to see it properly buried.
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 12, 2019, 02:17:32 am
P&F have posted a summary of the settlement terms

Key highlights include:

* Stardock will create new games in the Star Control franchise.  
* Paul & Fred will create new games in the Ur-Quan Masters franchise.  
* To help differentiate the two franchises Paul volunteered to create a few new alien races for Origins.
* Brad offered to help Fred and Paul with technology.
* Both sides recognize each other’s copyrights and will not challenge them in the future.
* Stardock is dropping all trademark registration of the alien names and won't use the described aliens without permission from Paul & Fred.
* Star Control, Star Control II, and Star Control III will be coming back for sale by Stardock so that fans of all ages can enjoy the classic games in their original form.  Paul and Fred will split royalties equally with Stardock.
* Both sides will support the current UQM team and project.
* Stardock accepts that Paul & Fred are the creators of Star Control and Star Control II.
* Paul and Fred will be changing the name "Ghosts of the Precursors" to something "a little less generic".
* A significant exchange of honey and mead.

All in all, this looks pretty good.  Technically, the UQM core team could have a stronger claim to the UQM trademark than P&F have, but Serge indicated a while ago that he was willing to subordinate his claim to Paul's, and I think we can trust Paul not to get litigious with it.  :-)  Between that and the race trademarks being dropped, UQM and its clones should be safe from attack.  P&F's universe is exclusively theirs, and renaming GotP at this point is a fairly minor concession.

One thing not mentioned is the status of the1988 agreement; it would be good to know if Stardock conceded that it was terminated.  It would also be nice to confirm that there wasn't any licensing of Stardock's trademarks.  It doesn't sound like there was, but any such licensing by P&F could set a precedent that could impact UQM.

"Brad offered to help F&P with technology" is an interesting item.  That Brad would like to see the original aliens brought to the SC:O engine is no surprise (he's wanted that from the beginning), but I have to wonder if P&F want to risk mingling their IP with Stardock's.  Their newfound rapport is great, but it might be tempting fate.

In any case, congratulations to the parties for finally settling the dispute; hopefully we'll start seeing and talking a lot more about games, and a lot less about lawsuits.  I suppose I may have to demonstrate that I'm still capable of talking about the latter.

When all is said and done, Stardock appears to be coming out of the litigation with a few custom races from Paul and some mead.  I suspect this will go down as some of the most expensive mead in the history of the computer game industry.

EDIT: Two other clauses are mentioned in the ArsTechnica article:
* "there are a few caveats around the Arilou" - It sounds like Paul agreed to let Brad have the Arilou in SC:O.
* "The agreement also includes some stipulation that Ford & Reiche go into a quiet period for a while"

I'm not thrilled by these - especially the idea that P&F might not be able to speak freely.  But if it only pertains to announcements about their game, and is for a limited time, I'm not overly concerned.
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 11, 2019, 03:14:18 am
I think that the response given by R/F when approached by Stardock about SCO was very similar to the response given by R/F when they were approached by Accolade about SC4. "No" was meant to be their initial position, not their final answer; R/F were willing to let Stardock use their materials, for the right price.

I am skeptical of this.  Paul's emails to Brad (ca. Sep. 2013) do not suggest to me that he is inviting an offer; they seem like flat refusals, full-stop:

Quote from: PaulReiche
Fred and I are just not comfortable handing over our world to be developed by others.  We’ve been discussing this for almost 20 years and we’ve always regarded a return to Star Control as our dream project – something we’d work on as soon as we found the opportunity.  I know this will be a disappointment for you and your team, but Fred and I still have a Star Control plan and we’re not ready to give it up yet.

It's worth noting that at the time the SC4 contract was signed, the sales term of the original (exclusive) 1988 contract was still active (per P&F's countercomplaint, the royalties did not drop below the $1000 trigger point until years later).  Consequently, Accolade had a much stronger negotiating position than Atari would a decade or more later, after that agreement had expired.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Settlement Reached! on: June 08, 2019, 04:57:22 am
Accordingly, and pursuant to a stipulation by all six parties, the Court has dismissed the case with prejudice. From my perspective, this sequence of events ends here.

I take it there's no other information on the docket about what the settlement terms were?

Yep.  I'll admit that there's a part of me that will be a bit disappointed if we never see a Judge rule on some of the topics we've discussed here over the last couple of years...it would be nice to see where we got it right and wrong.  But I'd rather see P&F get back to making GotP.
Do you really believe that all of the parties would have accepted the judge's rulings as final?

Even if they hadn't, seeing the Judge's ruling would have provided a lot of interesting insight to the armchair lawyer crowd.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Settlement Reached! on: June 08, 2019, 02:51:34 am
A document filed at the Trademark Appeals Board today indicates that the parties have reached a settlement.  Terms are not yet known, other than that P&F are no longer opposing the "Star Control" mark.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 04, 2019, 04:20:39 pm
Ugh, I kind of expected that to happen. I wonder what makes the parties want to stall things like that.

There are lots of little details to figure out in a settlement, and everyone is posturing and haggling to try to get as much as they can, so it's not really an environment conducive to efficient problem-solving.

Quote
Also, if Stardock does file its 4th amended complaint, wouldn't that mean that the settlement negotiations have failed, at least for the time being?
Although, that may be exactly the reason for extending the deadline. If the settlement talks succeed, there would be no need to file an amended complaint.

Asked and answered.

Quote
Or, as the stipulation suggests, the parties actually need to file their amended pleadings before settlement negotiations can continue.

No, they can keep asking the Judge to extend the deadlines.

Quote
Oh well, if they are going to settle after all, then a few more days of waiting would be more than worth it. After all, we all want things to be done right. And the settlement talks having been resumed and apparently being quite successful is the best news we've had in a long while.

Yep.  I'll admit that there's a part of me that will be a bit disappointed if we never see a Judge rule on some of the topics we've discussed here over the last couple of years...it would be nice to see where we got it right and wrong.  But I'd rather see P&F get back to making GotP.
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: May 31, 2019, 08:00:50 am
Personally, I would not be surprised if this pending deadline was part of the impetus for this round of settlement talks. Federal jurists love awarding pyrrhic victories - they're harder to appeal - and by dismissing counts 12 and 13 without prejudice, the Court may have actually made more trouble for Stardock. Per the Court's instructions, in order to move forward, Stardock would have to rewrite those allegations to focus on R/F's tortious disruption of Stardock's contractual relationships with a specific, limited group of customers who pre-ordered SCO and whose identities can be readily ascertained. But, after the embarrassing "backlash" quotes from Frogboy's affidavit, it should be clear to NP that Stardock's collected "exhibits" are worthless. NP would be hard-pressed to draft a Fourth Amended Complaint which doesn't have evidentiary problems (assuming Stardock does not want jurors to hear from disgruntled ex-Founders) and open up Stardock to damaging, albeit limited discovery (why was Stardock issuing refunds, anyway?).

I'm also wondering if one of the parties might be motivated to abort Discovery in order to avoid having to turn over documents that contain things they don't want to risk being made public.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: May 29, 2019, 06:42:12 am
I'm not sure that the Stipulation would enlarge the time Stardock has to file its Proposed Fourth Amended Complaint. Each party's discovery materials - the responses to other parties' interrogatories, requests for admission, and requests for production - are owed to the other parties. Stardock's pleading is due to the Court.

They just asked for (and received) the same extension to Stardock's 4th AC deadline, as well as GOG's pleading response.  Looks like we'll have some news by June 3rd, one way or another.
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
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