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

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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #615 on: April 22, 2018, 11:21:28 pm »

Paul & Fred claim that their IP rights include the copyrights to all creative material from "Star Control", and that their contract specifically included the alien names, images, stories, music, and ships as part of their IP.  If they win completely, Stardock will have to avoid using any of these things from the previous games.  It might have to rename "Super-Melee" to something else, [...]
From several comments all around I gathered, that the ship arena fight has already been renamed to "Fleet Battles" (or similar).


As old-time fan, I associate "Super-Melee" with the old Star Control games, top-down view, and as such would have issues if someone else than FF and PR would name it that way. I simply connect it to their name.
But I also can see how judges and a jury, who are not deep into the old games like me, would say "Super-Melee" is essentially connected to the brand name "Star Control". More so since SC3 also used that name (under a license, although it is debateable whether a license for this one single element would've been necessary).
In the end this is something I will not put money on or care about, because I will play the FFand PR game, no matter if the "Super-Melee" successor will be called "Ship vs Ship", "space arena", "Evade the planet!", "Boom, badaboom!", "Your chance to lick a blue space elf!", "Super-Melee", or "The Frungy Playing Field".... And the name would also not be a consideration in buying and playing Origins, or not.
I just want it in both games...


OTOH, "Fleet Battles" sound much like "all ships fight at the same time", a massive real-time multi-player battle.
Which sounds cool, but I simply do not know what Origins offers. And is not something I would expect in a Star Control game.
But then, we are 25,5 years down the road, and hardware and software made more than just gigantic leaps....
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Death 999
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #616 on: April 22, 2018, 11:35:22 pm »

More so since SC3 also used that name (under a license, although it is debateable whether a license for this one single element would've been necessary).

SC3 called it Hypermelee, not Supermelee.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #617 on: April 22, 2018, 11:59:49 pm »

Help me understand folks:
Does UQM project remains intact in all scenarios? Nobody has said anything about it, and that's one of my main concerns...

If Stardock wins, UQM project is under immediate threat.  Period.  If they are able to snag the "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark and claim copyrights to the original Star Control properties, the UQM project will basically be forced under the rule of Stardock to whatever whim they desire.  Stardock may claim otherwise, but there would be NOTHING to stop them from shutting down the project the second it no longer serves their end goals.  Stardock is a business run by people that are very business orientated.  The bottom line is the only thing that's ultimately important.  In fact, I would not be surprised if Stardock files litigation to seize the material of the UQM project and derivatives.  The Pages of Now and Forever will also be under threat for their domain name, too.

If P&F win, it will be business as usual and possibly more material they are uncovering for their legal defense will find its way to the project.

Stardock and P&F equal scenario, business as usual since Stardock will only ever be able to touch Star Control: Origins.  Which is fine... They can have that.  Just leave the originals and new works (Ghost of the Precursors) alone.

Cynic much?

The day they start attacking UQM is the day I completely denounce Stardock.

But Brad has assured me personally that it would never happen.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #618 on: April 23, 2018, 12:44:53 am »

Hey folks I read most of the past 40 pages but am still trying to grasp at something and maybe you could help me:

1. What is the "win" scenario for Stardock?
2. What is the "win" scenario for P&F?
3. Are there any in-between scenarios where neither "win" condition is granted or somehow both "win" or a gradient therein?

There's three ways to answer this: the legal claims, the settlement offers, or (hopefully informed) speculation.

THE LAWSUITS:

1. Stardock win: Stardock successfully defends their right to sell the original games, and Stardock own all Trademarks. This begins with the main Star Control Trademark, but even earns them the right to use the original aliens in Star Control Origins (though they'd still need to change those aliens to avoid copyright infringement). Paul and Fred stop referring to their game as a sequel to Star Control, and stop calling themselves the creators of Star Control. Moreover, Paul and Fred can't so much as mention Spathi, Orz, Arilou, or Ur Quan (including Ur Quan Masters) as those would be registered Trademarks of Stardock. Origins is released, and Paul and Fred's game have to make sure their game doesn't refer to any of the original aliens by name (although maybe they still use the old designs / lore).

2. P&F win: Stardock has to stop selling the original games, and even Star Control 3 needs to be a joint decision in terms of whether it's sold. P&F will control how SC1/2 are sold (which they have said the plan would be open source). P&F are allowed to talk about Star Control, at least in ways that they have been already ("we created Star Control", "we promised a sequel for years, and this is essentially it"). Both parties work on their games and release them. Probably under the planned titles, with a possibility that maybe Atari screwed up the Trademark renewal, and so the "Star Control" name would no longer be exclusively Stardock's.

3. The Court finds the middle: Honestly, each party's claims are nominally grounded in law, but it's unlikely that either of them get everything they want. I woudn't say a "wash" is more likely, but is a good example of one of several outcomes in the middle. In true a "wash", Stardock hangs onto the Star Control Trademark, but their new registrations (Ur Quan Masters, Spathi, Arilou) all fail. But also, the court recognizes that it's fair use of the Trademark to say that Paul and Fred were the creators of the game, along with a strong warning to not start putting Star Control on the actual box or marketing materials for the game when it comes time to sell it.The games can only be sold if they cooperate -- one side as the copyright holder (including partial in SC3), and the other side as the Trademark holder. Basically, nobody has done anything especially wrong, and they should go back to doing what they were doing before the lawsuit (after spending huge money and time on this lawsuit).

THE SETTLEMENTS:

1. Stardock win: Paul and Fred assign all intellectual property in the copyrights and trademarks to Stardock. Paul and Fred aren't allowed to make a game in the same genre for 5 years. Paul and Fred announce that they are "happy to pass the torch to a new generation of storyrtellers" and that Stardock's game can/will feature all of the original characters and aliens.

2. Paul and Fred win: Both games (eventually) come out. Stardock stops trying to Trademark the original aliens, and cannot use the original aliens / characters / lore. P&F's games are the only ones that feature those original aliens. Both parties have to take a big step back in referring to each other(e.g.: Paul and Fred talking about Star Control, and Stardock talking about consulting with Paul and Fred). All three of the original games are released as open source games.

3. The parties negotiate a middle:  Stardock has basically said they will never settle, implying that the above settlement proposal is now "take it or leave it". But there are legitimate pressures to settle that might change their mind. (There's a settlement conference next month, and while those need to be private, the court can absolutely penalize a party if there's evidence they didn't give it a good faith try.) And this isn't to say P&F's proposal is flawless or fair, but at least it tries to be.

There's an older letter from Stardock that they say they will never agree to now, but is at least compatible with P&F's proposal. Both proposals agree that P&F will be the only ones to use the classic characters and lore. Both parties agree that Stardock gets to call their game Star Control, while P&F will call their game something related to the original universe (e.g.: Ur Quan something something). Stardock wanted the two sides to talk about each other favorably, whereas P&F wants to at least not be negative. Stardock's "nice" proposal still insisted they will sell the original games, but that Stardock has at least verbally said the sales don't really matter, maybe they'd find a resolution to that.

SPECULATION:

Lawsuits really only end one of two ways: they settle / drop it, or they go all the way to court, let alone appeal. I've covered the middle ground in both situations. But just to speculate a little further, it might still lean more one way or another. Either because the court finds one side's case more compelling (but not completely), or because one side starts to feel the pressure and exhaustion of the situation and is willing to accept somewhat unfavorable terms. I think there's people who have talked about other potential issues, like what happens to the open source UQM if Stardock controls the Trademark, or what if Paul and Fred's game is vaporware, but I'll leave that to other people to speculate.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 01:00:13 am by rosepatel » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #619 on: April 23, 2018, 01:28:09 am »

The day they start attacking UQM is the day I completely denounce Stardock.

But Brad has assured me personally that it would never happen.
There is literally no reason to believe an assertion that it would never happen. Even if Brad himself would never do it, the fact that he could shut down UQM if he wanted to is a sword of Damocles hanging over the project. At any moment, he could change his mind (perhaps under pressure from a lawyer or something) and decide to shut it down after all. Or, he could sell his company to someone else who's less reasonable than him, someone who would object to the idea of an open-source project using their trademarks.

Basically, even supposing Brad's word is trustworthy (which I'm not going to make a judgement on here), there's no reason to trust him if he says UQM will never suffer due to Stardock holding trademarks for The Ur-Quan Masters and all the alien names. If he doesn't want UQM to suffer due to Stardock holding these trademarks, he should withdraw the trademark applications.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #620 on: April 23, 2018, 01:47:06 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.

But you're talking as if Stardock is literally the most evil corporation in existence. Which it isn't.
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.

It's still too early to be speculating on the most negative outcomes.

____

Not to mention it would be the most horrible decision for PR to start attacking the fans.
It's not gonna happen, even EA aren't that stupid.

It would turn this whole thing into the new Metallica vs. Napster.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 03:02:52 am by Serosis » Logged

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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #621 on: April 23, 2018, 03:26:20 am »

I would bet that the Trademark issue doesn't effect this community. For one, "Ur Quan Masters" doesn't mark any packaging or marketing for SC2 (as opposed to being in the game itself). For two, "Ur Quan Masters" is used to mark THIS project, which is an open source product created by Paul and Fred and the fans. For three, the PR issue would be a disaster for Stardock.

But considering how acrimonious the lawsuit has gotten, it's not a sure bet that cooler heads will prevail. One way it could play out: Stardock wins the Trademark over Paul and Fred's (inevitable) objections. And Stardock says they will conditionally allow this community to keep using the UQM mark, but wants promotion and links to Star Control: Origins and the Stardock website. Paul and Fred, the copyright holders of the UQM code, say that will let that happen over their dead bodies. So Stardock revokes the Trademark to the project, and blames Paul and Fred for refusing to play nice and letting Stardock use their rightful Trademark to promote their games. The pissing contest could easily spill over and continue.

I honestly don't think Stardock will get the Trademark though.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #622 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.

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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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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #623 on: April 23, 2018, 05:38:50 am »

There's a settlement conference next month, and while those need to be private, the court can absolutely penalize a party if there's evidence they didn't give it a good faith try.

Maybe, but I'm not so sure.  The whole Rule 408 thing seems to indicate that the events in settlement talks are strictly not allowed to influence any other part of the trial - the trial judge isn't even directly involved.  Would any litigation attorneys care to weigh in on the extent to which judges can pressure an uninterested party to settle?

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.

It does, but this was speculating on a total Stardock win.

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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.

The danger here is that Stardock is making some arguments that call into question P&F's rights in the original code and game assets.  If P&F are unable to establish that they had the authority to re-license that material, it could put the origin of the UQM project into question, at least theoretically.  It's unlikely to become a real problem, because that would further require one of the original copyright holders to actually take issue with the project.  But this again goes back to the maintainers of the project branches and how comfortable they are with such small but non-zero legal risks, and how exacting they want to be about the IP pedigree of the code.

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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.

If Stardock's new trademarks are approved, they might be able to make an irrevocable blanket license for non-commercial use that would put the project in the clear.  I know that can be done with copyrights, but I don't know if it works with trademarks, which have legal obligations to be defended.  This would be another question for a knowledgeable attorney.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #624 on: April 23, 2018, 05:42:48 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.

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.

And in a worst case scenario even if he did attack we could just change the damn name to something else.

Like "The Path of Now and Forever" or "The Eternal Doctrine" to keep the Ur-Quan relation.
There is not a situation where the rights to the UQM source reverts to Stardock so nothing there would ever have to change.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #625 on: April 23, 2018, 06:01:50 am »

If Stardock successfully trademarks all the species names, that's a problem for the UQM project as well, as we'd suddenly need special dispensation to legally use those names in game. Which yes, they are very likely to initially grant, if perhaps with some stipulations about promoting their game. But that outcome definitely threatens the longterm viability of the project if those trademarks are sold, Stardock is absorbed by a larger company or the CEO simply changes his mind.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #626 on: April 23, 2018, 06:17:27 am »

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.

The reason that this rings false to me is that up to that point, Brad had been promising that he wasn't going to use the races or ships from SC2 anyway, so those names were no threat to him whatsoever.  They only became a threat when he reversed that promise, purportedly in retaliation for P&F claiming that the "Star Control" trademark had lapsed back in the early 2000s.  

I don't feel that escalation was justified; Stardock was actively using that trademark to sue them, so it's only expected that P&F would try to call its validity into question.  And Brad seems like an experienced enough litigant that he should have been expecting such a move the moment he filed his suit - the potential lapse in the trademark had already been discussed on this forum when Brad bought it, in a thread in which he participated.

And in a worst case scenario even if he did attack we could just change the damn name to something else.

Like "The Path of Now and Forever" or "The Eternal Doctrine" to keep the Ur-Quan relation.
There is not a situation where the rights to the UQM source reverts to Stardock so nothing there would ever have to change.

That may be true of "The Ur-Quan Masters", but it would not be true of the alien names; stripping them out completely would be a massive undertaking, including replacing a bunch of the voice acting.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 06:19:08 am by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #627 on: April 23, 2018, 06:59:51 am »

Thanks folks, I think I have my answers.  Sad
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #628 on: April 23, 2018, 07:35:34 am »

But you're talking as if Stardock is literally the most evil corporation in existence. Which it isn't.
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.
I'm saying the very existence of the trademark is a potential threat, like a self-destruct button on the project. It doesn't really matter how much you trust Brad or Stardock. You don't give a self-destruct button to a single person (or entity); there's a reason why they always require at least two people to activate it. They may be trustworthy now, but can you be sure they'll be trustworthy always? People change, companies change, they could get bought out, all sorts of things could happen.

And while I've yet to encounter any reason to believe that Brad would go after the UQM project (given how he frequently extols his love of the old game), we have seen him change his stance on various matters, sometimes rather drastically if I understand the situation correctly. So even though he has promised not to destroy the UQM project, I'm not entirely convinced. I do think it's unlikely that he would do any thing to harm it, but I would far prefer a scenario where he's unable to do so. Why would you willingly hang the sword of Damocles?

Note: Like nearly everything else in this thread, I am not a lawyer. So don't assume anything I imply about the law is correct.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 07:38:34 am by CelticMinstrel » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #629 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?

Quote
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.

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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.

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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.
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