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

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46  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
47  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 26, 2018, 03:53:04 pm
Problem is, now the legal successor of the publisher causes the legal action, which according to the contract term, the developer must pay for.
[...]But I am not a lawyer, and therefore I do not know of precedent cases that disallow such a misuse of contract language.

I see where you're coming from, but I have a lot of trouble believing that a court would read this as allowing Stardock to claim that Paul needs to protect it from its own actions, when the clause was pretty clearly written with third parties in mind.
48  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 26, 2018, 02:53:43 pm
As we both know, Stardock's claims go further now. They now claim that the 1988 agreement has never been valid to begin with, since, according to Stardock, F&P did not own the copyright they were licensing.

One problem I see with that argument is that §9.2 of the 1988 agreement says:
Quote
To the best of Developer's knowledge, the Work is the property of Developer [...] Developer shall be responsible for all costs arising from legal actions which question or dispute such rights of ownership.
(emphasis added)

The emphasized phrase is probably why Stardock's lawyers are accusing Paul of committing a knowing fraud, because if it was just an honest oversight, the contract isn't breached at all.

And to me (though I'm still not a lawyer), this section would seem to indicate that the parties had already considered the possibility of flaws in Paul's IP claims, and had agreed that if any such flaws existed, they would not negate the contract entirely, but rather would simply make Paul bear the cost of dealing with them.  Indeed, I can't think of why Accolade would want such issues to negate the contract completely, since that would leave them with no license to Paul's work at all.

So IMHO, the implication of other contributors having potentially retained some of the copyrights is that Paul would need to defend Stardock from any suit they might bring.  But since they've now assigned their copyrights to Paul, that is a moot point.

49  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: "Incoming transmission" on: September 24, 2018, 08:51:04 am
Sorry, how do I unzip it?

Open it with an unzip program like 7-zip.  If you rename it with a .zip suffix, you might be able to just click on it.
50  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
51  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 24, 2018, 12:30:55 am
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.

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.
52  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
53  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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:

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 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.
54  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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:

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. Smiley
(emphasis added)

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:

It's not a good idea to antagonize fan communities.
55  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 10, 2018, 06:07:22 am
We can look at the Likelihood of confusion factors right now:

1) Strength of the mark. "STAR CONTROL" is at least suggestive, possibly arbitrary. Fairly strong.

Note that the "Star Control" mark has a Section 15 Incontestability declaration filed.  I don't think that affects the other factors, nor does it make it immune to challenges based on abandonment or fraudulent renewal, but I think it overrides any ability to challenge it on strength.

EDIT:
Quote
Trademark law does not care whether the contents are connected to the trademark, only what the type of goods are.

Actually, it does care, and inversely so:  The more connected the trademark is to the goods themselves (as opposed to their source), the weaker the trademark is.  This is part of why "Arilou", despite being a fanciful word, is probably not a fanciful (i.e. very strong) trademark:  Its primary use is as a race name within the game, and not as an identification of where the game is coming from.
56  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 09, 2018, 02:47:11 am
I would really like to see Paul and Fred argue in open court that that appears even similar to the Melnorme.  Also, you linked to the Mael-Num.  It's one thing to quibble over copyright but now you're trying to argue that similar *spelling* of a word of a spy race is somehow in violation of someone's copyright?

Come now, do you really think that the presence or absence of a hyphen makes a difference?  And are you really suggesting that in the absence of the creative influences of SCII, that your spy race for SC:O would be remotely the way they are?  They sure seem derivative to me.  I believe I recall you saying that they were drawn by an artist who was given certain instructions, including to make them orange.  Would you care to say who selected the color orange for your spy race?

As for the reasoning for their DMCA, it would surprise me if it was about "gameplay", but perhaps we'll get to read for ourselves when P&F reply to you.
57  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 09, 2018, 01:16:39 am
I guess I can agree that filing a DMCA for SCO itself was maybe going to far, but the case is not so clear with the content packs, which are very close to infringing on their copyrights (whether or not they are infringing is for a lawyer or judge or whatever to decide).

I've heard that they just renamed their Melnorme to Maelnum, which doesn't really help.  An orange, bulbous race of information brokers in SC:O with the same name as the ancestors as an orange, bulbous race of information brokers from SC2?  That sounds substantially similar to me.
58  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / DMCA notices, request for restraining order filed on: September 08, 2018, 07:27:12 pm
New court filings yesterday shed some light on the temporary disappearance of Stardock's properties from Steam last month.  It was indeed due to a DMCA notice from P&F, which was then counter-noticed.  Stardock is now requesting a temporary restraining order against P&F to prevent them from filing further DMCAs.  The wiki page had been updated with the new filings.
59  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: August 24, 2018, 04:07:23 pm
If the old "Star Control" trademark were to be cancelled, and a new one issued based on SC:O, I really doubt that you could find a single fan who would decide not to buy it as a consequence.  And if that's the case, are you really getting a good return on the money you're diverting to pay the lawyers?
By that argument, Paul and Fred should just drop their claims. Why not just get rid of the concept of IP entirely? Eliminate spending money on lawyers entirely.
You're fabricating a strawman argument to kick.  My argument was that this particular trademark could be easily replaced without any practical consequences.  How is SC:O any worse off if it's protected by a new "Star Control" trademark instead of the old one?
That's not a strawman. You are arguing that we should give up something based on whether its value exceeds the cost to keep it.  Correct? By that argument, what justification do Paul and Fred have then?  We actually have a registered trademark we're defending.  We have no interest in using any copyrighted material they might have so why not ask them the same question.  We just want them to quit infringing on our trademark.

The two are not equivalent.  Regardless of your intentions, P&F need their copyright to defend their IP from others who might infringe it.  But your new "Star Control" trademark can defend SC:O and all of your future games in the "Star Control" brand just as well as the old one could.  It just couldn't be used to pick fights over the old games, in effect formalizing the assurances you had previously given P&F about allowing them to continue their story independently.

My point is that this legal "association" with the old games makes no practical difference to your sales.  The only people who will even think about it are hard-core fans, most of whom have already made up their minds.  If anything, trying to insist on that association is alienating the fans who don't accept it and costing you sales.  So I just don't see how spending even more money paying lawyers to fight over it is in the best interests of your company, or its employees.  That money could be making games.
60  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: August 24, 2018, 07:11:47 am
If the old "Star Control" trademark were to be cancelled, and a new one issued based on SC:O, I really doubt that you could find a single fan who would decide not to buy it as a consequence.  And if that's the case, are you really getting a good return on the money you're diverting to pay the lawyers?

By that argument, Paul and Fred should just drop their claims. Why not just get rid of the concept of IP entirely? Eliminate spending money on lawyers entirely.

You're fabricating a strawman argument to kick.  My argument was that this particular trademark could be easily replaced without any practical consequences.  How is SC:O any worse off if it's protected by a new "Star Control" trademark instead of the old one?
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