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News: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford want to continue the story they started when they created Star Control II — The Ur-Quan Masters. «Happy days and jubilation!» «But wait!» «There is something wrong here... something which makes my sheath retract and my talons ooze.» «Please, Captain, we need your help!»

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Author Topic: My take on Stardock  (Read 52661 times)
CelticMinstrel
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #480 on: April 13, 2018, 04:08:29 am »

I don’t share your appraisal of the value of the lore.
Really? I'm sorry to hear this. To be honest, it kind of decreases my interest in Star Control: Origins; I hadn't yet decided whether I wanted to obtain SCO. Now I start to wonder if someone who doesn't see the value in the lore could even produce something as good as the original Star Control 2.

Baldur’s Gate was an RPG but if it were sold, the value is in the trademark.
If the Baldur's Gate trademark were sold to one party and its copyright to another, then the former party will have been ripped off. The BG trademark is practically worthless without its lore.

Brands are valuable. Awareness is valuable.
You can hardly call something a brand if the things sharing the name aren't related. Star Control 2 and Star Control Origins barely qualify in my opinion. Obviously this has nothing to do with the law (I'm not a lawyer and know nothing about trademark law), it's just a personal qualitative evaluation.

we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.
It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

Stardock's Star Control universe will be the one that players of today know and associate with the brand Star Control.

Food for thought.
A bit of a frightening thought when considered in light of the OS/2 -> Windows version of GalCiv.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #481 on: April 13, 2018, 04:20:42 am »

we would still have ultimately gone with a different universe in any event for much the same reason why Star Trek rebooted its series (Kelvin timeline) in a different universe.
It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

I'll echo that; I was a big fan of the old Trek, but haven't watched a bit of it since they rebooted.  If they wanted to tell a new story, I wish they'd taken a risk (creatively and monetarily) and invented something genuinely new instead of running Trek through the recycler.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 05:47:23 am by Elestan » Logged
Serosis
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #482 on: April 13, 2018, 06:31:33 am »

It's interesting that you bring up the Star Trek reboot, because I consider that to be a mistake; the new Star Trek movies are Star Trek in name only.

Except that they aren't in name only when they attached Leonard Nimoy and the classic series cast to them.

The new Star Trek film franchise is in a different reality as explored when Spock and Nero's ships fell into an artificially created black hole.
We now follow this alternate version of the Enterprise's "original" crew. Some things are the same, some aren't, that's what happens in the Kelvin-verse.

Same with Discovery, even though I don't like it, it remains canon to the classic series but just adjacent in an alternate reality. Even much more so thanks to the Spore Drive.

Just because you may not regard it as canon doesn't mean that's factually the way it is when it all connects to the original shows in many different ways in-story and thematically.

So, really, Star Trek is just a bad example. It's convoluted but it's still jumping off the original canon.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #483 on: April 13, 2018, 07:07:25 am »

However, deciding that they wanted to stay independent was their prerogative.  And the trigger for them going hostile on you appears to have been your October 2017 email, where you claimed that the1988 agreement was still valid, meaning that you were saying that they had no right to develop their game without your permission.

I'd just ask you to take a minute, and realize how threatening that email must have seemed to them.  Regardless of your offering to be permissive about it, it still meant that you were asserting that you had final control over something that they believed they had owned for 16 years.  While that doesn't excuse any trademark infringement they might have then committed, from my read of the emails, that email was the first shot fired in this war, and it's what kicked off the cycle of subsequent escalations.

One other ramification of that email that I don't think has been explicitly noted so far:  If your assertion that the 1988 agreement is live holds up, then the entire UQM project is illegitimate.  Paul&Fred could not have legally released the code and art to the community if Accolade (then Infogrames) still held an exclusive license to it.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 03:11:24 pm by Elestan » Logged
Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #484 on: April 13, 2018, 06:44:25 pm »

Not really.   It's been far too long to do anything about that.

Here's my IMNAL view on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity)

Accolade/Atari failed to act.  UQM is here to stay no matter what.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #485 on: April 13, 2018, 07:30:05 pm »

Not really.   It's been far too long to do anything about that.

Here's my IMNAL view on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity)

Accolade/Atari failed to act.  UQM is here to stay no matter what.

Probably...but I'm not entirely sure.  My IANAL concern is that the Petrella decision mostly did away with Laches as applied to copyright.  What I'm not sure about is whether this question would actually fall under that decision, since it wouldn't be Paul enforcing his copyright, but rather Stardock enforcing its exclusive license for the copyright, which would seem to fall under contract law, not copyright law.

Even if Laches could apply, that defense relies on a "reasonableness" standard that isn't entirely clear-cut, so I'm not sure if I'd want to rely on it in the absence of a more definitive ruling on the issue. Perhaps we'll get some more clarity by the time this case is over.

However, even if Laches doesn't apply to any copyright claims, it seems like it could still apply to Stardock's trademark claims, since trademark law (from my non-lawyer read) lacks the statutory claims period relied upon in Petrella (and later in SCA Hygiene, for patents).
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 11:20:55 pm by Elestan » Logged
Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #486 on: April 13, 2018, 10:44:00 pm »

Well in any event, UQM is here to stay.
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PRH
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #487 on: April 13, 2018, 11:48:43 pm »

And moving back to an earlier discussion...

Quote
Depends on how you define legal constraints (I mean that literally, our trademark is our trademark obviously).

As a fan of UQM, I would want Fred and Paul to be able to do the following things without having to ask for anyone else's permission:

1. Develop a sequel to UQM.
2. Use their lore without any retcons or alterations being forced on them, such as the races' names.

You might ask why it is such a big deal for me, as a person unaffiliated with Fred or Paul, that they should be able to do it without asking for your permission. Well, it's a matter of trust. While you do seem to treat the Star Control universe with more care than Accolade did with SC3 and StarCon, you are basically asking us to trust you to give F&P full creative freedom and not take that freedom away at any point in the future, even though it is fully in your power to do so. That takes a lot of trust. And while none of us here has any real power to influence your decisions on this matter, this is one of the reasons many of us will be rooting for F&P in this conflict.

Then there's the question of the "Star Control multiverse". If you recall, it's one of the reasons F&P stated for "getting angry" at you in their initial blog post about this legal conflict:

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Despite what Stardock's Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our games’ universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Control®: Origins. (Note: We really don’t like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

I said earlier that the idea of an "alternate past" Star Control universe is a fun idea to entertain, the same way it could be fun to read a Star Control fanfic with that premise. But there is one key difference between fan fiction and officially released material (aside from the commercial/non-commercial distinction, obviously). Officially released material is canon, while fan fiction is not. So by asserting the existence of a "Star Control multiverse" where the Ur-Quan universe created by F&P is just one of many timelines, while Origins is an alternate version of the same universe (while F&P had no plans to make it that way), you are still kind of messing with F&P's canon. I'm not saying this from a legal point of view (I'm not qualified to make any legal conclusions), but from that of a lore fan.

Finally, there's the topic of confusion. If you plan to use races called the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in your games, wouldn't that create confusion with F&P's sequel? How is an average fan going to make sense of two competing games created by two different companies using 20+ races with the exact same names?

And by the way, you used some rather strong language about Fred and Paul before, such as saying they were "mugging" you (admittedly, their PR firm is guilty of the same thing against you, calling you a "thief"). Why do you put it that way? What kind of threat do you think they pose to you or your games, and why?
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 01:13:51 am by PRH » Logged
Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #488 on: April 14, 2018, 01:23:33 am »

Lot of good and interesting questions, PRH.

I don't have a lot of good answers because much of it would require knowing the future. Smiley

What I can say is that Stardock owns the Star Control multiverse and that multiverse contains the Ur-Quan, Orz, Yehat, Pkunk, etc.  

I honestly couldn't tell you what Paul and Fred own.  And by that, I mean, I don't think I should speak on their behalf on that.  

In another thread, Paul said he was scanning high resolution images of the artwork created by others that they in turn licensed to be included in SC2. I don't know what label Paul and Fred would want to use for their combined creatives.  For brevity, let's call it the Ur-Quan universe.  They own that lore and artistic expressions found within.  And obviously, we do not.

Quote
And by the way, you used some rather strong language about Fred and Paul before, such as saying they were "mugging" you.

As for my descriptions, I have not suggested that Paul and Fred mugged anyone.  Rather, I strongly object when someone tries to play moral equivalence games with phrases like "Well, it takes two to have a dispute" which is akin to implying that the mugger and the muggee are equally at fault.  The analogy being, moral equivalence is a bad argument.

Stardock very much would like to see sequels to UQM made by Paul and Fred and we would like to see them done without retcons or alterations.  That's been our position for many years.

However, as you quote:
Quote
Despite what Stardock's Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our games’ universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Control®: Origins. (Note: We really don’t like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

and then state yourself:

Quote
Finally, there's the topic of confusion. If you plan to use races called the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in your games, wouldn't that create confusion with F&P's sequel? How is an average fan going to make sense of two competing games created by two different companies using 20+ races with the exact same names?

This is a conundrum.  The Star Control games will continue to have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.  They won't be in Star Control: Origins due to it taking place in 2088 but they are out there.  Obviously, the issue of confusion has to be considered.   These races are associated strongly with Star Control.  I'm not sure how easily that can be addressed if Paul and Fred want to use them if they don't want to associate them with the Star Control multiverse.  That is why we have trademarks, to avoid consumer confusion.

I wish I could tell you how it would turn out.  I just don't know.


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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #489 on: April 14, 2018, 01:56:11 am »

This is a conundrum.  The Star Control games will continue to have the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in them.  They won't be in Star Control: Origins due to it taking place in 2088 but they are out there.  Obviously, the issue of confusion has to be considered.   These races are associated strongly with Star Control.  I'm not sure how easily that can be addressed if Paul and Fred want to use them if they don't want to associate them with the Star Control multiverse.  That is why we have trademarks, to avoid consumer confusion.

I wish I could tell you how it would turn out.  I just don't know.

Well, it seems like there are three possible outcomes on this point:

  • Stardock is permitted to claim a trademark the SC2 race names (by common law via the original SC2),  Paul and Fred probably abandon GotP, because they're not going to change the names, and it seems unlikely that they'd license them after this much bad blood between you.
  • Paul is allowed to claim a trademark on the SC2 race names (by virtue of common law via UQM after Accolade abandoned those marks), or P&F's lawyer finds a way that copyright could apply to the names (maybe the use of them in combination is sufficiently creative?).  Stardock leaves the SC2 race names out of its games, and Paul & Fred make GotP.
  • Neither of the above.  Stardock puts races with the SC2 names in its games, making sure that they are different enough not to infringe Paul's copyright.  Paul and Fred make GotP, and both sides just have to accept whatever confusion results.

Personally, I'm skeptical about the first; it just seems unlikely that a trademark claim could be made on the race names after UQM has been using them for so long.  The second seems like it could be a bit of a long shot too.  So if I were a betting man (and I'm not), I'd probably bet on the third outcome.

Of course, if Stardock wins the 1988 agreement argument, it automatically wins this one too.

Still not-a-lawyer, of course.
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #490 on: April 14, 2018, 02:36:10 am »


I can't speak for what Paul and Fred will do but any IP attorney can walk you through what's going to happen.  Paul and Fred are welcome to try to oppose the trademarks if they want of course but in the end, Stardock will have those trademarks.   I would imagine their legal counsel has already walked them through this. 



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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #491 on: April 14, 2018, 02:53:05 am »

I can't speak for what Paul and Fred will do but any IP attorney can walk you through what's going to happen.  Paul and Fred are welcome to try to oppose the trademarks if they want of course but in the end, Stardock will have those trademarks.   I would imagine their legal counsel has already walked them through this.

Well, if P&F's counsel already understands why Stardock will inevitably get the trademarks, then there's no reason not to explain it to us here, so that we can appreciate the strength of Stardock's case.  Right?  :-)
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #492 on: April 14, 2018, 02:57:45 am »

You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing. 

There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics. 
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #493 on: April 14, 2018, 03:06:44 am »

You can find your answers through Google.  This isn't even remotely a complicated thing. 

There's even YouTube videos that will walk you through the basics.

Sorry, but I'm skeptical.  Not that there isn't plenty of information on trademark, but rather that there is something directly applicable to the question of what happens to the common law trademarks in a product that ceases to be sold, is re-released by its copyright owner after the applicable IP license expired, uses those trademarks for a decade uncontested by any sales of the original product, and then has the entity that bought the primary (registered) trademark on the product attempt to enforce the common law trademarks as well.

I mean, there's a lot out there on the Internet, but if you've found something that directly addresses this question, I'd love to see it.
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #494 on: April 14, 2018, 03:09:38 am »

If you can’t be bothered to look up this stuff, why should I spend time walking you through it? 

No offense, Elastan but I couldn’t care less if you’re skeptical or not. 
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