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

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16  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 03, 2018, 05:15:51 pm
This whole trademark spree has gone from "a bit much" to "absolutely ridiculous" at this point.  Filing for a new "Star Control" trademark, I could get behind for Stardock.  They are using it to brand products and that new filing would be the protection needed in case the old Accolade "Star Control" filing suffers cancellation.  That's protecting yourself.  Even if they didn't file the lawsuit, it would be a wise move just to refresh your protections with an updated filing with specimens of  use on your recent goods and services.  Especially given the questionable nature that Atari renewed the trademark with that one-shot flash game.  (Technically it was a specimen of use, but... Really?)

But, filing for terms that were never used as trademarks by either Accolade or Atari (or are terms deep within a creative work... that you don't own), and presenting a wayward interpretation of the scope of trademark that goes against every bit of material on the USPTO reference material (and even the very act you are suing with)...  Is absolutely insane at this point.  I've yet to find a trademark infringement case that quite lines up with how this one has proceeded.  Even looking at the laws cited by the counts listed on Stardock's amended claim...  They don't seem remotely designed to be used like this and many have exemptions that directly protect against this kind of use. 

The more I dig, the more I find, the more distant Stardock's position seems from... well...  how everyone else treats trademark.  You'd think if this was the way such worked, far more litigious and larger companies would have tried it by now and succeeded.  Even Games Workshop has not had that much success lately with smacking people around for use of the term "Space Marine".
17  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 03, 2018, 05:03:50 am
And on yet another topic, I note that Stardock has filed for a trademark on Fwiffo.

Wow...  And there's one for the Crimson Corporation, too!  That's going well into trademark trolling territory now.  These are terms well within the copyrighted works and have never been remotely used as anything on the products or for branding... ever...  Not by Accolade, Atari, or even Stardock.

In fact... These are two unique terms used in the recent GoFundMe Fundraiser description page!  This is ill intent trademark trolling now and possibly an attempt to use trademark for the purposes of censorship.  (Which has been protected against by legal precedence as that would allow a federal law to threaten the First Amendment.)  I can't figure out any other reason given the timing and how ultimately unenforceable such marks would be... but how much defending against would cost.
18  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 23, 2018, 07:16:13 pm
What "provably wrong statements" is Stardock currently pushing? I am asking this sincerely, since I am still very sympathetic to Fred and Paul's desire to make GotP, and I do want to play GotP more than I want to play Origins (I just don't want F&P to be reckless in their fight against Stardock).

Most of it deals with how the Stardock portrays trademark and copyright law.  Some how trademark covers this huge, wide, fuzzy range of things... when the USPTO office, multiple court cases, and the Lanham Act itself states otherwise.  And the idea that people would have to "license" the alien names (if they have the trademarks to them) to use them is ridiculous as it would be a First Amendment violation to do so, as evidenced by the Rogers Test:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_v._Grimaldi

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And speaking of appeals to emotion, what is your talk about "blood stains" if not that?
Yah, that's a misstep on my part.  Admittedly, I'm bit tired of all this.  It was the term I went for in my mind when trying to relate "questionably acquired property from another unwilling party".  I'll go correct it.
19  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 23, 2018, 06:22:05 pm
This is a sign that the end is near. A whopping 2M USD target??  W T F. That's like 20% of SCO's budget.

No.  It's a sign that things are just starting.  The case has just begun.

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IMO, that kind of money should be spent making the game - NOT paying lawyers.

I agree.  So... maybe if Stardock would drop their case and allow Fred and Paul the chance to do that same... We could all move on.  But, the claimant, Stardock, hasn't yet.

What has me worried personally is that Fred and Paul are doing nothing to refute Stardock's arguments that explain why it's F&P who are the guilty party. They simply repeat the arguments they've previously used in their blog, that Stardock are a huge evil corporation (with a Druuge picture accompanying the text) that threatens to take F&P's most treasured work from them (in other words, an appeal to emotion). Brad spent a lot of effort explaining why (if we believe him) this isn't the case, and F&P just act as though none of Stardock's posts have ever existed. If F&P are really running a PR campaign against Stardock, they should put more thought into their PR efforts.

It is their right to not discuss the details of the court case.  As much as Stardock is silent on certain issues of their case, so are Fred and Paul.  Brad's explanations are mostly an appeal to emotion, the tone and framing dictates that.  And this is a court case at the end of the day...   PR isn't what they should be focusing on, it's lawyers deciphering law and finding court cases to support their rights.

I also think now that they've reached out to fans for funds, they should be communicating more frequently with them. Potential donors deserve to know that the money will be well-spent. What's their legal strategy? How sure are they of winning this if this reaches jury trial? People will need all the info for an informed donation, not a blind one.

Why?  People are pre-ordering Star Control: Origins and they aren't privy to the source code of the game.  Stardock doesn't reveal all with their court strategy.  Neither does Fred and Paul.  What else is new?

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EDIT:
I also think this is a perfect time for P&F to reflect on what the SC fandom really wants at this point. Does the fandom want to protect F&P's copyrights out of their own pockets for a 2M price tag? Or do they only want to play GotP? To me, these are easy questions to answer - because P&F can certainly give fans GotP without the 2M price tag.

Disingenuous statement.  In order to get Ghost of the Precursors, the copyrights must be protected.  And the 2M price tag is there because of Stardock as that's the price that must be paid in order to get to court to refute Stardock's claims officially.  So they can work on the game in peace.

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And that's why I think P&F will lose this battle. Yes, litigation sucks, Stardock's legal strategy is sly and disheartening, but it's the sad reality.

And that sentiment is why so many troll companies launch frivolous court claims to "win" despite being wrong...  and keep doing so.  One should not support a company that engages in this practice.  And as much as you are questioning fans of Fred and Paul...  you should question yourself about whether you really want to support Stardock in doing these things.  Do you really want to support a company that would aggressively twist the legal system's worst aspects to stomp out the very creators that created the very goodwill they are cashing in on with Star Control: Origins?  (Stardock would not have had a Star Control trademark to buy... if it wasn't for Fred and Paul!)  A company that pushes a narrative with provably wrong statements and continues to misrepresent the laws of the United States to fit their own agenda when it is convenient?  (For the treatment they are giving the alien race names... they oddly have NEVER DONE THE SAME for anything from the Galactic Civilizations series.)  Is that what you want?  An organization that "wins" by bullying people around and then takes what they want to slap out a new product with fresh blood stains (sorry, little too dramatic) questionably acquired property from another unwilling party that they tell you to ignore?  Is all you want a new game from Stardock regardless of what is done to create it?  You have your right to like the company that provides the game you enjoy, as much as we have a right to question everything about a company about what it does in the creation of that game.
20  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 19, 2018, 08:41:50 pm
Actually Crystal Dynamics is still a live and active studio:  https://crystald.com/

So, you might have some luck hitting them up directly.  Somewhere, someone might know where those assets are stored or at least maybe someone higher up can see about authorizing the old content.
21  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 19, 2018, 06:49:18 pm
We'll know for sure once the suit comes to an end.

Out of all of this I want to find out who really owns the 3DO assets and who has the original models for the 3DO videos.
I also wonder if the raw voice-overs are still around as well.

I think Crystal Dynamics holds the rights to that specific material as they were the ones in charge of that port and created the videos under license.  They are now under the Square Enix Europe umbrella.
22  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 19, 2018, 05:17:09 pm
I'm sure there is more behind the copyright than what was stamped on the box and installation media.

Of course.  But, the notice upon a work usually is the first indicator to the public of the copyright owner.  Though reading up about it, the notice part seems to be optional now for works based copyright law since March 1, 1989:  https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-definitions.html#notice

Probably a moot point.
23  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 19, 2018, 03:35:11 pm
This is in README.TXT, MANUAL.TXT, and manual.pdf for Star Control 2, and also identically worded but (c) 1990 in the manual.pdf for Star Control 1. It's obviously not the original release of SC2 as it also has references such as "This CD includes one of the most critically acclaimed sci-fi games of all time."  and to Windows 95 which wasn't out at the time, but it seems unlikely that the manuals would have been rewritten. Does anyone have a GoG or even original version to compare? Accolade appear to have been rather inconsistent.

I can confirm that's how the GOG.com version reads with the manual PDF.  GOG.com probably used the CD Collection version that had both Star Control 1 and 2 on it.  But, even that version listed the different copyrights on the CD:

Designed by Fred Ford & Paul Reiche III
Star Control Game:  (C) 1991 Fred Ford & Paul Reiche III, Star Control is a trademark of Accolade, Inc.  (C) Accolade, Inc.
Star Control II Game: (C)  1992 Fred Ford & Paul Reiche III, Star Control II is a trademark of Accolade, Inc. (C) Accolade Inc.

Or... Actually Star Control 3, I think, included both Star Control 1 and 2 on the same disc.  So, this might just be an old typo.  I'll see if I can hunt down my old Star Control 3 CD... or at least a digital image of it to check the exact contents.

24  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 19, 2018, 10:05:12 am
Do the copyright notices on the copies of SC2 reproduced and distributed by Stardock reflect this position?

Would you believe the copyright notice appears to support Stardock's claim that Paul & Fred were not the creators?

"Star Control II is a trademark of Accolade, Inc.  Portions (c) 1992 Paul
  Reiche III and Fred Ford.  Game (c) 1992 by Accolade, Inc."

Interesting...  On what was that notice located?  Because this back of the box image shows different:  http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/script/images/7/7d/Image_thumb_3.png
25  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 18, 2018, 08:25:35 pm
Stardock is well within their rights to throw someone out of their own house.  I will fully agree Stardock has the right to patrol their forum as they see fit.  Truthfully, the Stardock forums have been very tolerant of the internet legal squabbling, but there's a limit to everything.  And as the court case progresses and certain legal avenues are explored, I do get the feeling there's certain topics that Stardock doesn't want explored upon their own forums.  But, it's their forums at the end of the day.  I've pushed it to the edge myself, but I more than said my peace on the matter over there.  There are many dedicated folks over there that have determined their opinion on the matter using the information they feel appropriate.  At this point, it's their forum and they have the right to believe what they want on that forum.  I will admit it is frustrating to literally have the text of the law stating "X" on one monitor and peeking over on those forums on the other monitor to see the reasoning behind Stardock's stance being "Antithesis of X".  Thankfully, I've grown a near-reflex of moving my nice keyboard out of the way before dropping my head on the desk.

Any effort I put forth now, I've been putting towards more entertaining avenues of understanding the law.

For an entertaining case about trademark (I have to give it up to the judge on this one...  That judge had to walk into that court room with knowledge of the basis of the case.):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOTlj4MARbo&t=0s

Also, looking into a previous Stardock trademark case with Rebellion entertainment ( https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=705020582613657328 ), I learned about the Rogers Test. ( https://www.inta.org/INTABulletin/Pages/LitigatingtheFirstAmendmentDefenseintheVideoGameContext.aspx )  Not only that, just how broadly it can get used, see PDF p. 16, Document p. 207:  http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=jipl

So, fascinating read so far and it does grant that a lot needs to be decided in the court rooms.  But frankly, there's some minor extrapolations of logic that could prove very dangerous for Stardock...  That I personally wouldn't want to open up the possibility for by engaging in litigation. 

26  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 17, 2018, 05:32:38 am
Except that it will run into the same problems as the ones GotP is running into now. The new trademark holders (which will presumably be F&P/Frungy Games) will have to give Stardock their permission to continue distributing the game. And Stardock won't be able to develop sequels to Origins without F&P/Frungy's permission either. So even in this case, we still have the same problem of trust here, with the roles reversed.

That's not how trademark cancellation works.  When a trademark is cancelled , it just means the term isn't enforceable as a trademark anymore.  That's it.  There's no new owner... there's just no owner because there can't be one.  Origins will be able to continue just fine.  And other games can call themselves Star Control.  And for "Star Control" to be used as a trademark again, it would require a new application and go through the whole approval process.
27  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 16, 2018, 08:09:01 pm
Fuckin' hell you people don't give up with the doomsaying.

Ignorance of the possibility allows the possibility a chance to happen unhindered.  And, as they say: "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

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He doesn't want anything to happen to UQM, this forum, and anything related to the fanbase surrounding it.
That is PR suicide at best.

If Stardock doesn't want anything to happen to UQM... Then, they need to drop their trademark filing for "The Ur-Quan Masters" immediately.  It never needed to exist in the first place.
28  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: June 16, 2018, 04:52:46 am
Not a response, but a general aside: "commerce" is one of the more dynamic terms of art in American jurisprudence. When reading federal laws, one should never take references to "commerce" at face value, nor should one assume that the word has congruent meanings in different contexts.

I was curious about that and did some serious digging around to trying to find exactly what "use in commerce" meant in the context of trademarks.  Ended up finding a few key bits.

From https://www.inta.org/INTABulletin/Pages/Defining_Use_in_Interstate_Commerce_7117.aspx :

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Use in commerce” on goods occurs when a mark is affixed to the goods and such goods are sold or transported in commerce. 15 U.S.C. § 1127. “Use in commerce” for services occurs when the mark is used on promotional materials that describe the service and the services are rendered in commerce. 15 U.S.C. § 1127.

So the goods don't have to be sold, only transported. And by the nature of the Internet, it is commerce that Congress can regulate.

From the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, https://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/TMEP/current#/current/TMEP-900d1e7.html :

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Offering services via the Internet has been held to constitute use in commerce, since the services are available to a national and international audience who must use interstate telephone lines to access a website. See Planned Parenthood Fed'n of Am., Inc. v. Bucci, 42 USPQ2d 1430 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) , aff'd, 152 F.3d 920 (2d Cir. 1998) (Table).

Which means,  The Ur-Quan Masters project by offering the services of forums, advertising source code locations, and providing downloads to a product is technically... in commerce.  Much like many other open source projects out there both big and small.  And the "The Ur-Quan Masters" title which is being used as a mark, is in commerce.  Which means, the Stardock filing of "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark will legally threaten UQM.
29  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 23, 2018, 04:40:32 am
False representations concerning the origin, association, or endorsement of goods through the wrongful use of another's distinctive mark can indeed give rise to a "false association" claim. Take a look at § 43(a)(1)(A). I think that the real issue here is - assuming that F&P exceeded the scope of nominative fair use in their announcement - whether that association was actually false. (I suppose one could argue that F&P were not engaged in interstate commerce when using the "Star Control" mark, but that's usually a losing battle.) As rosepatel suggested, statements describing GOTP as "a true sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters" and "an independent effort with Stardock's blessing" might lead one to conclude that the representations were substantially true.


For reference  § 43(a)(1)(A): ( https://www.bitlaw.com/source/15usc/1125.html )
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(a) Civil action

(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which—

(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,


Hmm...  I agree that could be a bit sticking point.  Though the context of the rest of the section seems to in reference to mak vs. mark comparisons.  Even in the Additional Remedies, seems to be in reference to using a confusing mark that is similar to another mark.  And there's also the "willingly" requirement.

But looking at the Exclusions:
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(3) Exclusions

The following shall not be actionable as dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment under this subsection:

(A) Any fair use, including a nominative or descriptive fair use, or facilitation of such fair use, of a famous mark by another person other than as a designation of source for the person's own goods or services, including use in connection with—

(i) advertising or promotion that permits consumers to compare goods or services; or

(ii) identifying and parodying, criticizing, or commenting upon the famous mark owner or the goods or services of the famous mark owner.

(B) All forms of news reporting and news commentary.

(C) Any noncommercial use of a mark.

It was a sentence on a blog post, so I'm curious as to what all applies.  I would argue that A-ii applies in the fact that they were commenting upon the famous mark's good...  Star Control (R) 2 -- The Ur-Quan Masters.
30  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 22, 2018, 12:06:58 am
And...  THERE ARE NO PRODUCTS YET to misrepresent the source of.  There has been no sales lost by the confusion of the public looking at the trademark on product and not being able to determine its correct source.  Paul and Fred literally don't have a product and they didn't label their product with the Star Control trademark.  Stardock is the only company with anything resembling a Star Control trademark and they have plenty of products they have put it on exclusively.  Where is the confusion?

I find this argument weak. They were announcing a product. They associated their product to the trademark, even if they did not label it. Of course there are other arguments for this being okay, but saying they had no product and they didn't literally label it with the trademark (because it didn't exist yet) doesn't look like it would work, to me. Other facts of the case need to be brought in.

Like, if it was just that, then if Pepsi were to suddenly announce that they were going to make the new Coca-Cola, some time in the next few years, no, they didn't have it with them right then… well. That doesn't look good, but the argument you presented would apply.

I'll admit the not having a product is a weak component In that argument, but it would factor in trying to calculate the damages and recovery.  Makes it hard for to prove sales from confusion when there's no product for sale.  Also in that example, Pepsi would be confusing the source of the trademark for Coca-Cola.  Pepsi at that point would be directly implying they are the source for Coca-Cola.

With Fred and Paul's original announcement:  "...we are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II (R) -- The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursors (tm)."

They denoted that Star Control (R) is a trademark and put a more noted separator with "--" between it and the sub-title "The Ur-Quan Masters".  And the title they presented was "Ghost of the Precursors (tm)".  It wasn't  "Star Control (R) -- Ghost of the Precursors (tm)", but just "Ghost of the Precursors (tm)".  So effort was made to separate the trademark from the rest of the sentence and "Star Control II (R) -- The Ur-Quan Masters" is technically the title of the game, the name of it, hence a nominative use.  That's the point of nominative use, to allow fair use of the term to refer to the product, otherwise companies would be trademark trolling critics and competitors all the time.

And there's very simple edits that could be done and have been done to make the point of Stardock's trademark claim... Moot.  If a simple edit fixes the issue, how damaging or confusing could it be?  They could have still referenced the "Star Control" trademark by a simple period and a few words.  For example:  "...we are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II (R) -- The Ur-Quan Masters.  It will be separately called "Ghosts of the Precursors (tm)"."  How infringing can one sentence in a small blog post possibly be to Stardock's identity with the Star Control mark given the rest of their market presence?

How the post looks after edits under advisory of Stardock before the lawsuit that was filed two months after (12-08-17) the single blog post (10-06-17) :  https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters

What moot means in law:  https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/moot

So whatever confusion that may or may not have been caused by this announcement... was corrected.  And Stardock seems to have caused far more confusion highlighting the post via litigation.  They literally could have ignored it, continued on stamping their materials with the Star Control trademark and there would have been no confusion about who owns Stardock's "Star Control" trademark.  And the act of willingly correcting the announcement under advisement of Stardock and the lack of a direct misuse of the "Star Control" trademark (titling their product with "Star Control") at any other point shows no willing intent to infringe on Fred and Paul's part.

Frankly, Stardock has opened itself up to more harm that if it had just continued on like nothing happened.
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