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

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31  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 21, 2018, 08:59:02 pm
Had Paul and Fred simply titled their game as Ghosts of the Precursors and never referenced or used the Star Control name what Lakstoties says would probably be true.

The issue is they called it the Sequel to Star Control  without stating that SC is R Stardock, so now everyone links GotP with SC directly and there is a confusion in the market which is exactly what a Trademark is intended to prevent.

They DID title their game Ghost of the Precursors, that's the whole title.  They did mention Star Control, but it was in a nominative way.  They are the creators and current copyright holders to Star Control 1 and 2.  So, they were stating fact and acknowledged it was a trademarked term with the circle R symbol.

"Nominative use does not require that ownership of the trademark be acknowledged, for example by use of a sentence such as "UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group". Such statements may, however, be required by the terms of a license agreement between the parties, and they may be prudent (and courteous) as a way of preventing misunderstandings or allegations of passing off."

Also, referencing other products in direct competition of the trademark holder is nothing new, just take a look at generic medicines when they put on the label of the box to compare them to the trademarked product.

They did not misrepresent the source of Ghost of the Precursors, they are creating it.  They did not misrepresent the source of the Star Control mark, they did not mention it.  They did not misrepresent the source of their product by using the Star Control mark upon the their product...  Which doesn't exist yet.  There was no intent to misrepresent so far.  This is a screenshot of the original post before it was edited to fix complaints by Stardock, showing a willingness to clarify the situation:

Stardock has simply done more create confusion by even launching the claim in the first place.  They could have sit back waited a week and the announcement would have subsided to the background noise of the internet.

Ultimately, what damages could Stardock hope to collect through a trademark infringement claim like this?  If we look at the Recovery section of the Lanham Act, it does not show any way to collect damages for what was claimed by Stardock.

Most of what it talks about is a willful use of a counterfeit mark to misrepresent the source of  a product.  Willful intent has not been demonstrated.  The mark was not used on the product to misrepresent the source.  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?

That's the basis of trademarks.  To indicate the source of a good or service.  For Stardock to have a valid claim of trademark infringment, Paul and Fred would have to offer at least a service or product to take in money and present that service in such a manner to where the public could be reasonably confused to think it was Stardock instead of than Paul and Fred via using the "Star Control" trademark upon the service or product.  That what many trademark infringement cases are these days.

That has not remotely happened.  Fred and Paul made an announcement, that possibly Ghost of the Precursors could come into existence in the future and it would be based on the game they worked on called, Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters, which they have the copyrights to... hence the content of.
32  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 21, 2018, 06:02:27 pm
However, Brad also claims that since Stardock owns the Star Control trademark, there is simply no way for F&P to release GotP other than through entering into a licensing agreement with Stardock. If that is true, then the copyright disputes are barely relevant here.

Thankfully, that's not true.  Fred and Paul don't need a license contract to release Ghost of the Precursors.  The Star Control trademark, by definitions of what a trademark is and limitations of what a trademark can encompass, can't do that.  So long as Ghost of the Precursors is the title, they are safe.  Much in the same way The Ur-Quan Masters was clear of threat from Atari for all these years.  Trademark is and has been for many years, simply a mark on the product to indicate its source.  The court case of Kellogg v Nabisco spawned the Functionality Doctrine that was codified in the Lanham Act and further reinforced by multiple court cases over the years.  Simply put, trademark cannot protect anything that's considered a functional, value adding feature of the product it is on.

33  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 18, 2018, 12:20:43 am
The trademark covers the Thing that is sold  

No it doesn't. It goes on the thing. The same way "Aquafina" or "Dasani" go on bottles of water, and do not give PepsiCo or Coca-Cola any exclusive rights to use water. Trademark law does not suddenly start to care about the contents of a product because a product is a creative work. Copyright law does.

Indeed!  If fact, if you just look at the product range that Samsung and LG ALONE have... and the fact they use the same trademarks "Samsung" and "LG" on ALL of it, shows that the trademark doesn't care about the product itself...  just the fact it is ON the product.

I mean, seriously get a load of the Goods and Services section of one of Samsung's trademarks, it's insane all the things they stamp that mark on:
34  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 18, 2018, 12:04:03 am
Pretty sure the Star Control trademark is still on display in the splash screen when you launch UQM
No.  Download the game, load it up, and watch the intro for yourself.  It is in no way titled "Star Control".  It shows up and says plainly, "The Ur-Quan Masters"

Here's a picture of what immediately shows up upon start, just captured it myself for you:

Also trying to cancel the trademark is not the same thing as disputing what the trademark does.       They are wanting to prove the trademark is invalid.    If this happens then SD has no say whatso-ever about anything older than SC:O       if Fred and Paul cannot cancel the trademark then the game SCII would still be under StarDock's trademark.
Okay...  Yes, trying to cancel the trademark is not the same disputing what it does.  So, yes, they aren't disputing what trademark does because they are going off of the definition the USPTO, INTA, and most other business in the known world use.  No one else uses Stardock's warping of trademark law.  The "Star Control" trademark LITERALLY AND ONLY covers the mark itself, by the very definition from the USPTO itself, the organization that regulates these laws:

"A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others."

That's it.  The only thing a trademark is associated with IS THE COMPANY THAT USES IT.  That's what it is for.  It's something you stamp ON a product to let everyone know it is coming from your organization.

so my point that this doesn't change anything other than awareness from Atari days to now, still stands  until or unless Paul and Fred win their case.

If you've been going off of Stardock's definition...  The info from the sources will change EVERYTHING for you.  Holy hell, people.  It's NOT hard to find this info, really!  There's websites dedicated to it!  The USPTO even has cheesy, poorly acted videos to present it all.
35  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 17, 2018, 11:28:22 pm
I beg to differ.

The trademark for The X-men covers the various characters involved under the Xman label.

Okay...  Here's ONE of the oldest registrations for "X-Men":

In that federal registration...  Is there ANY information that relates to characters within ANY product.  Is there a list?  Is there an additional data field that shows what elements of products the trademark is related to?  If you are to receive federal protection for something, you have to not only inform the federal government what it is... You have to commit to a good faith effort to inform the public.  So... WHERE IS THAT INFORMATION?

Let's take a look at the specimen of use:

Interesting...  Does it show any of the characters consistently?  First, example shows Spiderman, but up in the corner there's an X-Men logo.  The next example on the next page, does it show any core elements within the product?  Or... Is it just literally logo, mark, icon, etc... ON THE PRODUCT ITSELF.

IN FACT, with the USPTO's own guideline to determine if the trademark is registrable or not there's an interesting clause:

"Marks that merely identify a character in a creative work, whether used in a series or in a single work, are not registrable."

And the USPTO's AND INTA's guidelines for the strength of a trademark show that more cognitively separate the trademark is FROM the products it is to be put on... MAKES IT BETTER.

USPTO Video explaining how to choose a mark:

International Trademark Association Fact Sheet for Trademark Strength:

l you want but not even Fred and Paul are disputing this.

Incorrect.  They are disputing this by seeking cancellation of the trademark.

So, you are incorrect.  You have gotten bad information.  Go to the United States Patent and Trademark info site.  Read the documentations and watch the videos:

And here's some more resources talking about trademarks and what infringement IS in the rest of the world:

Various trademark cases:

So... Show me the resources and examples that show Stardock's concept of trademark has ANY validity.  I'd like to see them.
36  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 17, 2018, 10:49:17 pm
It strikes me that very very little changed as far as UQM is concerned when SD bought the Trademark from Atari...  with the exception of knowledge and awareness.  Atari may not have even been aware that this page existed whereas Brad has posted quite a bit in the past few years.

Atari knew about it, but The Ur-Quan Masters was titled as such to avoid the "Star Control" trademark they owned.  The Ur-Quan Masters project never titled/brand their product with the "Star Control" trademark to create market confusion.  Atari could do nothing to stop it, hence they never did.

Even if the Trademark only covers the name of the end product or not, the open source project that UQM is modifying is Star Control and falls under the Trademark now owned by Stardock.
Trademark DOES NOT cover ANYTHING other than the mark itself.  Source code is copyrightable and is by Paul and Fred.  The Open Source license rides upon implied copyrights granted to Paul and Fred to allow others to use it in an agreed upon manner.

Atari could have/should have made the same oversight claims that Brad is now making.

They could have.  But, they didn't because they knew the laws better.

If you engage in commerce you are not protected as a fan project and could be shut down by the owner of the Trademark.

If you brand yourself and use the trademark ON your product, then yes.  You can be told to not use the confusing mark itself any further.
37  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 09, 2018, 04:11:10 am
This is interesting because as I recall there's actually precedent for this sort of thing in the trademark on "hobbit", but what you're saying here seems to suggest that's not a valid use of trademark? (Unless they're selling Bilbo and Frodo plushies or something similar.) And yet as far as I know the hobbit trademark has been held up several times.

That's actually more of a copyright issue due to the unique term "hobbit" in Tolkien's world.  I don't think it has actually ever gone to court, but many writers of tabletop role playing games evaded the possibility by avoiding "hobbit" and using "halfling" instead.
38  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 08, 2018, 10:22:29 am

To put it succinctly, Copyright protects what's in the box, and Trademark protects what's ON the box.

(That's crude, because for sure you might hear the Trademark a bunch of times in the game, and the box might have Copyrighted images on it.)

From what I've read, that pretty much summarizes it.  Trademark is literally the mark you put upon a product in trade.  It's suppose to be a product identification mark, that can use copyrighted material to compromise the mark itself.

Stardock is trying VERY hard to extend the Trademark to what's IN the box. Some of their arguments verge on absurd, IMO, but it's an ambiguous enough area of law that it's hard to completely rule it out.

I'm going to say this because after reading all shapes and forms of law and legal codes...   I don't know if Stardock really understands how Trademarks and Copyrights work at this point.  Because what they leverage and argue runs right in the face of every description and summary I find on many government and law school websites.  And their only response to questioning their stance is that non-lawyers shouldn't question them.

For example, they're now claiming (1) that Atari owned dozens of unregistered common law Trademarks (e.g.: Trademarks established by "use" and not by a paper application), and (2) that Atari's sale of the "Star Control Franchise" implies that they sold all those Trademarks to Stardock. That's in spite of the fact that Atari never used any of those terms in commerce (they are in the box, not on the box), and that's in spite of the one document that says they only sold the "STAR CONTROL" Trademark.

From everything I've read about trademarks, common law trademarks are NOT transferrable.  Only registered trademarks can be transferred.  Common law trademarks are just legal precedences that have to be maintained by active use as a trademark and typically don't survive transerrance to another company.

Even if that interpretation of the Trademarks is true, and I think I'm being kind when I call it a stretch, they're using those Trademarks to help protect stuff that's in the game. So owning "Spathi" gives you more than the power to sell a game called "Spathi" (which nobody has ever done, including Atari who they bought it from). They're saying the "Spathi" mark gives them the power to put Spathi in the game. And then they're going to copy elements of the Spathi characters, and go on the record that they're doing it, and hope that the judge thinks it's not plagiarism because they didn't copy it exactly. There's actually a ton of case law where people get in trouble for copying bits and pieces of someone else's work.

"How much Copyrighted material can we get away with copying?" is a legal minefield that very few reputable companies would test.

They are willfully and intentfully trying to subvert copyright with trademark at this point.  I don't know how else to explain this strange tactic.  None of the recent filings have been used as proper trademarks...  even after filing them. 

At this point, either Stardock's legal team isn't very good at IP lawyering (or they are seriously trolling the system hard) OR they are just taking Stardock's money upfront and proctoring whatever Stardock tells them to do, no matter what happens.
39  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: May 01, 2018, 10:29:51 pm
Here I think is the most important disagreement. Brad seems to think that because trademarks are names, all associated names are covered by trademark. Brad also seems to think trademark links content (e.g. Drengin Empire) to product (e.g. Galactic Civilizations). To the first, I think names are not trademarks unless they are used (in-commerce) to mark a product (or service). If nobody is selling or distributing a "Drengin" or a "Drengin brand <something>", Drengin is not being used as a trademark. To the second, I think that trademarks link content (e.g. the 4x game with that particular expression of Drengin etc. in it) to its source (e.g. Stardock). If another game came out and Stardock could show that gamers might be confused into believing it was being sold by Stardock (via being marked as Galactic Civilizations or similar words), that would be trademark infringement. If another game came out and Stardock could show that gamers might be confused into believing it was the same Drengin Empire, that would be copyright infringement.

That is correct from my understanding.  This video from the USPTO gives an overview:

Trademarks are brands and labels that mark the source of a good or service in trade. That's it.  They DO NOT denote anything about the exact content.  The only time content is brought up is during the transfer of the trademark to allow the ability for the goods and services under that trademark to maintain equivalent quality as before with the previous owner.  But that's the only time that is ever brought up.

The interesting thing that as zealous as Stardock is filing trademarks Star Control 1 and 2 alien race names... they've done NOTHING similar for their own Galactic Civilization races.  That would be something they would have more grounds to do, but they don't feel the need to do so?

And as far as I know from examining trademark, copyright, and patent law from a past delve into the board game and tabletop game industry...  Copyright protect the content of the product.  Trademark protects the brand from counterfeiting and fraudulent representation by other parties.  Patent protects mechanisms and processes.

So as it standard right now, someone could start using Drengin as a trademarked title for a computer game so long as the actual content of the game does not infringe Stardock's copyrights.  (Copyrights don't protect titles.)  So, you could make a terminal rouge-clone called Drengin, distribute it for free, then file for the trademark and have a good chance of getting it.
40  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 27, 2018, 03:20:44 pm
Brad asserts back in 2013 that he acquired "publishing rights for the original trilogy". Given the emails P&F posted with Accolade, it seems likely that Stardock did NOT actually acquire full publication rights, but I can see how they 100% believed they had those rights, and P&F missed a chance to correct them about this four years ago...

To bring up a point of discussion, technically, Stardock had the publishing rights when it came to the games on via the agreement.  So, within the vague email conversation that was had four years, there was nothing that Stardock said that P&F probably thought needed correcting.  So, while they did miss an opportunity, I wonder if it was one they knew they actually missed.
41  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New Trademark Filings on: April 25, 2018, 06:02:04 pm
These are story elements within the game, not the material used to label the product!

I think it's safe to say that Brad takes a much broader view on the utility of trademark, and a much narrower view on copyright.  He's been giving his views on a thread over in the Stardock forums.

It's also worth noting that he did not accept that the flash game Atari commissioned over a weekend was a token use of the "Star Control" trademark.

I saw that post...  That post really confused me more than anything about Stardock's stance and understanding of the situation.  For as much experience that has been claimed, that's a very strange view of the way the system works.
42  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New Trademark Filings on: April 25, 2018, 04:31:48 pm
Looks like Stardock has recently filed for trademarks on TAALO and DYNYARRI.  I suppose the Keel-Verezy will be next...

I get the very distinct feeling that as Stardock's writers are writing their alternative history for Star Control: Origins, they are filing trademarks for those unique names as they incorporate them.

This is such an abuse of the trademark system, especially for them to file DURING a lawsuit that contends whether or not they may have any grounds to file such trademarks.  (This isn't including the fact that NONE of these terms have been used to mark a product they have in trade.  These are story elements within the game, not the material used to label the product!)  I'm surprised that Paul and Fred's lawyers haven't ask for the court to impose an injunction on this practice.

This is bad faith attempts at trademark trolling by Stardock.  Because normally, you would establish the use in market... First... then file for the trademarks after some form of establishment.
43  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 23, 2018, 04:41:48 pm
Reply to Lakstoties:

Wow, you really are a doomsayer.

I just don't think any of that can happen.
I am quite the doomsayer.  I am often, thankfully, wrong, but I theorize the worst case scenario so people consider it and don't disregard it before it is too late.  Because, otherwise, it blindsides people and becomes all too real before anything can be done.  As ridiculous as the "settlement" proposal from Stardock was, it does showcase a nasty intent that was a possible outcome for this ongoing situation.  When it comes to law procedures, I have often seen that "If you are willing to foot the bill, there's a way."

Avoiding the copyright angle which I'll admit is far flung (but I can't completely eliminate from possibility), if Stardock gets half the trademark filings through, it will pretty much end the freedom of existence the project has.  Stardock will have points of origin to launch lawsuit after lawsuit, and effectively kill the project out of litigation fatigue alone.  United States legal system is pretty garbage if you have no money nor the ability to spend time to defend yourself (usually by depriving yourself of money from missing work).  So, even with a single trademark, Stardock could effectively shutdown the project.  You may argue that promises have been made to never use such against UQM...  But I prefer situation where the promise does not need to be made.  I prefer to ride in the car that doesn't have the guy with a stick of dynamite and lighter promising he won't light it.

Even if your worst case scenario happened the Streisand effect would be too much to overcome given how long the UQM project has been going.
In the greater scale of Stardock's business.  UQM shutting down probably wouldn't even affect a trickle of income.  Stardock could completely write off the UQM fanbase and still continue to make a hefty profit...  They just update their narrative on all their mediums and come up with a story about re-releasing a new and improved version...  that never comes to light.  Most the Stardock dedicated haven't even heard of the UQM project and probably wouldn't care, even if you sat them down and told them all about it.  You are a rarity Serosis.  Most, from what I've gathered, support Stardock's position regardless of valid arguments against it.  So there may be a little irritation, but many won't care after the release of Star Control: Origins.  Most folks just want another Stardock game, they don't care what happens in the background from their perspective.

Regardless, Brad's plan was to release the SC3 code to this very community once Origins was out of the way.
I bugged him... Still bugging him really, to show me the source and the ensuing exchange we had triggered the idea to release it.
That doesn't sound like a decision that one has if they wanted to stifle an open source community.

Here's the thing: Stardock could release the SC3 source code RIGHT NOW under an Open Source License.  They don't need trademarks at all (that's just what they keep on saying but it's not true at all), they have the copyrights to the material to release it under an Open Source license.  And until the SC3 source code is released, I can't believe anything proposed on that matter.

Stardock is a corporation at the end of the day, run by a very business driven person.  A corporation has one goal: to make money.  All can and will be sacrificed to meet that goal, eventually.  So, I, by principle, don't trust corporation promises nor the statements from those who have direct stake in the corporation.  Because when they are under the gun, where are they going to side?
44  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 23, 2018, 08:37:46 am
Stardock filing the trademark is a threat, pure and simple.  They didn't need to file it in the first place, and didn't for many very years after getting the Star Control trademark... So why now start filing all these trademarks? I can't foresee any good reasons.

One good reason, for Stardock, is that it ensures that P&F can't do anything to undermine Stardock ever again.
Which is pretty much the explanation that Brad gave when people asked.

How so?  What could P&F undermine before?  Initially, it seemed that Star Control: Origin would not overlap the original Star Control 1 and 2 territory.  Hence, so long as P&F stuck within that avenue and away from Star Control: Origins... there was nothing they were undermining.  Now, Stardock is attempting to trademark alien race names from the lore they originally said they were NOT going to touch.  So...  Who is undermining who?

If Brad really wanted to be the most hated man in all of gaming history he would attack UQM.
But it isn't going to happen.

You say that... But his present opinion of the forum is not very good at the moment.  And frankly, if Stardock could legally seize the project and release it on their own terms with no contest...  It makes the most business sense to do so, since they would have full control of the past lore to prop up their current project.

And in a worst case scenario even if he did attack we could just change the damn name to something else.
Incorrect.  Worst case scenario, the original copyrights are compromised and the project is DEAD.  The open source license would be found invalid and it would be considered a derivative work.  Hence the entire project would be considered a massive copyright infringement and forced off the Internet via DMCA Notice to the web hosting company for the website and SourceForge for the code.  No one would be able to mount up a legal defense and the project would die.  We are small potatoes to the rest of the Stardock fandom, it would be a perfectly acceptable loss of fanbase that 90% of the Stardock buying public would feel not a thing for.

There is not a situation where the rights to the UQM source reverts to Stardock so nothing there would ever have to change.
Unless the initial open source license is deemed invalid due to the copyrights being ruled differently.  Which given Stardock's attack vectors, that seems like something they are trying to do.  Here's the thing...  If you can't defend yourself legally by paying the price, it doesn't matter if you are in the right.
45  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 23, 2018, 04:10:34 am
I don't really know how trademarks work, but the fact that UQM has been around since 2002 should afford us some safety from exactly that happening.
That and P&F are the only people on the planet that can update or change the license. The Ur-Quan Masters is their project with a ton of help from the community.

Here's the thing... It doesn't matter if the UQM project is in the right.  It whether not the UQM project can afford a lawyer to fight back against any litigation.  The US court system is Pay to Play, and if you don't have the gold you gotta fold.  If the copyrights are affected by any ruling, the open source license will be null and void, since the Open Source license is a legal document on top of the copyrights to grant specific allowances.

Things could be put in place by Brad/Stardock that ensures UQM gets to stay what it is and the UQM trademark is only in relation to Stardock's Star Control.

So long as Stardock decides it should be the case, otherwise they can revoke it at any time.  The Ur-Quan Masters trademark can be used as a point for a litigation against UQM project.  P&F got sued initially due to mentioning Star Control in a nominative sense...  Can you imagine what Stardock could mount against the UQM if they had trademark to the very name of the project itself?

Stardock filing the trademark is a threat, pure and simple.  They didn't need to file it in the first place, and didn't for many very years after getting the Star Control trademark... So why now start filing all these trademarks?  I can't foresee any good reasons.
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