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

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bum783
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #570 on: April 17, 2018, 10:07:17 pm »

It would be great if the whole thing were just called off.
P&F get to make Ghosts using a license so they can call it "Star Control", Origins can do whatever the hell it wants without interference from P&F, the fans collaborate to recreate UQM in Origins, happy times for all.

Dare to dream
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PRH
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #571 on: April 18, 2018, 08:38:52 pm »

Right. So Brad seems to say that since Stardock owns the Star Control trademark, it also automatically owns all names for all the unique characters that have ever appeared in products that were released under that trademark, even if the copyright to the lore of SC1 and SC2 is owned by Fred and Paul. Is that true? Because if it is, then it's yet another proof of how F&P did not realize the full value of the SC trademark and did not buy it from Stardock when they had the chance. And it also means that all hope of F&P being able to use their characters' names independently of Stardock is gone forever - there is literally no way for them to use those names except by entering into a license agreement with Stardock. I wonder what the terms of that license agreement would be, just out of curiosity. And of course, F&P still need to provide the exact evidence that shows what part of the SC IP they own.

Of course, if the above is not true, then F&P need to oppose Stardock's registration of the trademarks for the classic SC races as soon as possible.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 08:47:51 pm by PRH » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #572 on: April 18, 2018, 09:08:51 pm »

Right. So Brad seems to say that since Stardock owns the Star Control trademark, it also automatically owns all names for all the unique characters that have ever appeared in products that were released under that trademark, even if the copyright to the lore of SC1 and SC2 is owned by Fred and Paul. Is that true? Because if it is, then it's yet another proof of how F&P did not realize the full value of the SC trademark and did not buy it from Stardock when they had the chance. And it also means that all hope of F&P being able to use their characters' names independently of Stardock is gone forever - there is literally no way for them to use those names except by entering into a license agreement with Stardock. I wonder what the terms of that license agreement would be, just out of curiosity. And of course, F&P still need to provide the exact evidence that shows what part of the SC IP they own.

Of course, if the above is not true, then F&P need to oppose Stardock's registration of the trademarks for the classic SC races as soon as possible.

Yeah, IP law doesn't work that way. Trademarks are not recursive despite what Stardock may claim. F&P and by extension the UQM community has priority of use for all the named contained within the games. IP case law is pretty clear on that.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #573 on: April 18, 2018, 09:29:22 pm »

Right. So Brad seems to say that since Stardock owns the Star Control trademark, it also automatically owns all names for all the unique characters that have ever appeared in products that were released under that trademark, even if the copyright to the lore of SC1 and SC2 is owned by Fred and Paul. Is that true?

Each mark is separate; they don't get all the others just because they have the "Star Control" mark.  Rather, they have to register and defend each of them independently (though the argument for most or all of the alien names would be identical).  And there are a bunch of questions that will have to be examined in court and/or the USPTO, including:

  • Did the trademarks lapse due to lack of use?
  • Did the UQM project co-opt those marks while they weren't being used?
  • Are the race names really part of the games' product identity?
  • Was Atari's transfer of the trademark's without any license to the copyright legitimate?
  • Did Accolade represent to P&F that they were allowed to use those names?

...and I'm sure there are others.  Brad projects a lot of confidence, but that's only to be expected from a litigant during settlement negotiations.  Which is to say, don't read anything into it one way or the other.

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Of course, if the above is not true, then F&P need to oppose Stardock's registration of the trademarks for the classic SC races as soon as possible.

I would assume that P&F are opposing all of Stardock's new registrations.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #574 on: April 18, 2018, 09:37:14 pm »

And it also means that all hope of F&P being able to use their characters' names independently of Stardock is gone forever - there is literally no way for them to use those names except by entering into a license agreement with Stardock. I wonder what the terms of that license agreement would be, just out of curiosity.
Pulling a bit out of context, but then there's an answer I wanted to quote for that:
Short answer is that they will need to either license them or rename them.  I'd prefer a free license.
But then, this may be a tactic to lure FF and PR to accept the trademark registrations (by failing to act). Which will have other implications long-term, especially if the Stardock changes ownership....

Still, I wanted to remind the readers of a previous answer. Although I would not hold it against Stardock if FF and PR (or someone working for them) would support publications creating very negative opinions about Stardock and/or Frogboy if the proposed trms would change.
But he may also have been thinking about attaching other conditions to a free license. Like working within the Origins framework. Or non-commercially. ...
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 09:44:33 pm by Krulle » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #575 on: April 19, 2018, 06:20:36 am »

Was Atari's transfer of the trademark's without any license to the copyright legitimate?

Atari/Accolade held the trademark separate from the copyright for quite some time, so clearly the two can be "sold separately". I think a better question is: can Stardock actually *use* the trademark, if they don't license any of the copyrighted content?

When I brought up the idea of "assignment of goodwill", I was actually trying to make a point in Stardock's favor: Atari was asserting that this sale gave Stardock sufficient assets as to make a proper Star Control game, otherwise the sale would have been invalid.

It also seems that "assignment of goodwill" has become much less legally important in the last couple decades - https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1555&context=facscholar seemed like a pretty good overview on the issue.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #576 on: April 19, 2018, 07:34:21 am »

Standard disclaimer:  I Am Not  A Lawyer

Atari/Accolade held the trademark separate from the copyright for quite some time, so clearly the two can be "sold separately".  I think a better question is: can Stardock actually *use* the trademark, if they don't license any of the copyrighted content?

They can be separated from each other, but that's not the same as saying that they can be sold separately.  The "assignment in gross" test appears to only be triggered when a trademark is assigned, so a company can create its own mix of trademarks and other IP, and then sell off or lose the license to some of the copyrights or patents.  It's just that when they try to sell the trademark  - and the assignee then tries to enforce it - that the person it's being enforced on can try to invoke this rule to get the trademark invalidated.

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When I brought up the idea of "assignment of goodwill", I was actually trying to make a point in Stardock's favor: Atari was asserting that this sale gave Stardock sufficient assets as to make a proper Star Control game, otherwise the sale would have been invalid.

So Atari can assert that, but I don't think it's their decision to make.  Atari's creditors no doubt wanted to see all these trademarks sold for as much as possible, but it seems like this is a question that would only be decided in court; I don't think the bankruptcy judge does a detailed analysis of the goodwill assets at the time of the sale.  If the trademark assignment did happen to be invalid, I think Stardock would just be out of luck; that's the risk you take when you buy something at a bankruptcy auction.

Quote
It also seems that "assignment of goodwill" has become much less legally important in the last couple decades - https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1555&context=facscholar seemed like a pretty good overview on the issue.

I'm not sure I agree; that paper is an advocacy piece arguing in favor of doing away with the goodwill test, but it seems in large part to be lamenting the fact that while other countries have greatly weakened this requirement, the United States has not done so - or at least not to the same extent as elsewhere.  I didn't notice it cite any specific U.S. case law weakening the goodwill rule, though it might have; it was over 70 pages long, and I only skimmed it.

Pepsico v. Grapette seems to be the origin of this case law, and it actually sounds kind of familiar:  Grapette wanted to sell soft drinks, and wanted a trademark.  So it went to a bankruptcy auction, and bought a trademark that had been used to sell a cola-flavored beverage.  But the court ruled the sale invalid, because Grapette hadn't acquired the formula or machinery needed to make the original cola beverage, and was instead trying to use it to sell a pepper-flavored beverage.

So, based just on this precedent, the question would appear to be:  Is a Star Control game made without using Paul's IP more or less different from the pre-existing Star Control games, than a pepper soft drink is from a cola soft drink?

Of course, that's an 8th Circuit precedent from 1969, so they could do things differently in the 9th Circuit, and there could be newer case law that's changed things since then.  If anyone finds some, please let me know.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #577 on: April 19, 2018, 02:28:37 pm »

Stardock acquired both the trademark and the copyright to Star Control 3 in which Accolade is listed as the sole author.  That is all of the IP that existed as far as the federal court is concerned.

What IP Paul and Fred actually have is unknown.

The examples you provided above are not applicable here anyway as the rationale is to prevent someone from acquiring a trademark to use for something unrelated.   But consider the implications of your argument, it would make the case that Stardock absolutely must include all the aliens. You said earlier you didnít want this but now argue, in effect, not having them would weaken our claim.  

The new Star Control game certainly fits into the various uses that the Star Control games of the past. A ScI Fi video game developed by the people who own both the trademark and copyright.

Itís pretty disappointing to see people who claim to be fans grasping at straws in the hopes of stopping a new Star Control game. You guys keep wrongly assuming Paul and Fred have a whole bunch of valuable IP.  I used to think that too.  

But the bottom line is that 100% of the registered Star Control IP was transferred to Stardock. Copyright and trademark. Paul, Fred, Riku, Dan, Erol, etc. may have various common law rights but itís unknown and wouldnít prevent a new Star a Control game.

You should watch the new Lost in Space series on Netflix through the eyes of this discussion.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 02:33:41 pm by Frogboy » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #578 on: April 19, 2018, 03:43:05 pm »

You should watch the new Lost in Space series on Netflix through the eyes of this discussion.

what?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 05:48:42 pm by Death 999 » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #579 on: April 19, 2018, 04:01:10 pm »

Stardock acquired both the trademark and the copyright to Star Control 3 in which Accolade is listed as the sole author.  That is all of the IP that existed as far as the federal court is concerned.

What IP Paul and Fred actually have is unknown.

Even SC3's manual states that:

Quote
Star Control 3 is based upon characters created and used under license from Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford.

While it may be a common misconception that Fred and Paul did the whole work on SC1 and SC2 without anyone else being involved, most of us probably know it isn't the case. Your own article on starcontrol.com about how SC2 had an all-star team working on it is very informative, and Fred and Paul don't deny it either (see this thread). That isn't what we're arguing about, though. I thought even you agreed that F&P own the copyright to the story and characters of SC1 and SC2. Are you taking that back now?

And I especially want to address this:

Itís pretty disappointing to see people who claim to be fans grasping at straws in the hopes of stopping a new Star Control game. You guys keep wrongly assuming Paul and Fred have a whole bunch of valuable IP.  I used to think that too.  

I do not want to "stop" any Star Control game (including Origins and any of its sequels). I do not want to prevent it from being released or being successful commercially. What I want is to be sure that Fred and Paul's sequel is released with it keeping all the original names for its races (Spathi, Ur-Quan, Arilou, etc.) without any interference from Stardock. That is all that I want.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 04:07:30 pm by PRH » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #580 on: April 19, 2018, 04:30:09 pm »

I thought even you agreed that F&P own the copyright to the story and characters of SC1 and SC2. Are you taking that back now?

His lawyers are in their answer to the counter-claim (April 16, 2018).
Original Counter Claim:  https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/17/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/
Answer to Counter Claim:  https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6239751/38/stardock-systems-inc-v-paul-reiche-iii/

Paragraph 44 Counter-claim:  "Over the years since their various releases, Reiche, Ford, and Reiche and Fordís Star Control Games themselves have acquired a valuable fame, reputation and goodwill among the purchasing public."

Answer to Paragraph 44:  "Stardock denies Reicheís and Fordís suggested possession and ownership of Star Control, Star Control II, including The Ur-Quan Masters, and Reicheís Preexisting Characters used in Star Control 3. Stardock admits that the Classic Star Control Games have become popular over the last couple of decades in the video game community and have acquired a reputation and goodwill among the purchasing public. Stardock lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the truth of any and all other allegations asserted in Paragraph 44 of the Counterclaim, and on that basis denies such allegations."

Paragraph 102 Counter-Claim:  "Reiche and Ford are the owners of all copyrights to Reiche and Fordís Star Control Games, and particularly the Reiche and Ford Registered Copyrights."

Answer to Paragraph 102:  "Stardock denies the allegations in Paragraph 102 of the Counterclaim."


Reading it over, Stardock does not concede to grant even Star Control 1 or 2 copyrights to Fred and Paul.  The most humoring part to me is the Seventh ("On information and belief, Defendantsí copyright claims are barred because they are not the rightful owner of the alleged copyright."), Fifteenth ("Defendantsí copyright claims are barred by the doctrine of fair use."), and Sixteenth Affirmative ("Defendantsí trademark claims are barred by the doctrine of fair use.") Denfenses.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #581 on: April 19, 2018, 04:58:15 pm »

Stardock acquired both the trademark and the copyright to Star Control 3 in which Accolade is listed as the sole author.  That is all of the IP that existed as far as the federal court is concerned.

What IP Paul and Fred actually have is unknown.

The examples you provided above are not applicable here anyway as the rationale is to prevent someone from acquiring a trademark to use for something unrelated.   But consider the implications of your argument, it would make the case that Stardock absolutely must include all the aliens. You said earlier you didnít want this but now argue, in effect, not having them would weaken our claim.  

The new Star Control game certainly fits into the various uses that the Star Control games of the past. A ScI Fi video game developed by the people who own both the trademark and copyright.

Itís pretty disappointing to see people who claim to be fans grasping at straws in the hopes of stopping a new Star Control game. You guys keep wrongly assuming Paul and Fred have a whole bunch of valuable IP.  I used to think that too.  

But the bottom line is that 100% of the registered Star Control IP was transferred to Stardock. Copyright and trademark. Paul, Fred, Riku, Dan, Erol, etc. may have various common law rights but itís unknown and wouldnít prevent a new Star a Control game.

You should watch the new Lost in Space series on Netflix through the eyes of this discussion.

The 1988 agreement clearly states that all work and DERIVATIVE work reverts in the case of bankruptcy or lack of sales. You yourself have admitted that the 1988 contract lapsed and it pretty clearly states what happens when it does. The  agreement makes it pretty clear you bought a lemon.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #582 on: April 19, 2018, 05:06:36 pm »

Quote
Even SC3's manual states that...

There is a very large gulf between having unspecified licensed characters and what Elestan was trying to argue.  I really wish Elestan would just hire an actual IP attorney to walk him through this rather than play pretend Internet lawyer complete with legal conclusions based on basic misunderstanding of the law.

The point I was making is that Stardock acquired copyrights and trademarks to the Star Control franchise.  The argument that the two weren't sold together is moot as they were (and even if nothing had been registered, the trademark would have been sufficient provided we were making a video game).

Now with regard to Paul and Fred's game:

I personally still want them to make their follow-up to the Ur-Quan Masters story.  But given their behavior these past several months, it's clear that this will need to be worked out so that their efforts don't create confusion.   One party holds the Star Control IP.  That's Stardock.   Paul and Fred may own certain creatives that may or may not be protected under copyright. On the other hand, the parts most fans remember the most may actually be held by other individuals. *Frumple*.

Up until they started this nonsense, we were prepared to be very generous to help facilitate an effort for them to continue the Ur-Quan Masters story. Everyone here should know that.  I was the one who made the initial Ghosts of the Precursors forum post here.

I would hope that the fan community doesn't want to see this kind of mess happen again right?

To quote Paul regarding how things should be handled:
"That separation should fall along our respective rights, Stardock having purchased the Star Control trademarks and Fred and I owning all the IP rights to the works we created."

If they want to create a game that people are going to associate with Star Control they need to work with us to avoid consumer confusion.  

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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #583 on: April 19, 2018, 05:08:49 pm »

Stardock acquired both the trademark and the copyright to Star Control 3 in which Accolade is listed as the sole author.  That is all of the IP that existed as far as the federal court is concerned.

What IP Paul and Fred actually have is unknown.

The examples you provided above are not applicable here anyway as the rationale is to prevent someone from acquiring a trademark to use for something unrelated.   But consider the implications of your argument, it would make the case that Stardock absolutely must include all the aliens. You said earlier you didnít want this but now argue, in effect, not having them would weaken our claim.  

The new Star Control game certainly fits into the various uses that the Star Control games of the past. A ScI Fi video game developed by the people who own both the trademark and copyright.

Itís pretty disappointing to see people who claim to be fans grasping at straws in the hopes of stopping a new Star Control game. You guys keep wrongly assuming Paul and Fred have a whole bunch of valuable IP.  I used to think that too.  

But the bottom line is that 100% of the registered Star Control IP was transferred to Stardock. Copyright and trademark. Paul, Fred, Riku, Dan, Erol, etc. may have various common law rights but itís unknown and wouldnít prevent a new Star a Control game.

You should watch the new Lost in Space series on Netflix through the eyes of this discussion.

The 1988 agreement clearly states that all work and DERIVATIVE work reverts in the case of bankruptcy or lack of sales. You yourself have admitted that the 1988 contract lapsed and it pretty clearly states what happens when it does. The  agreement makes it pretty clear you bought a lemon.

First, no, I have not "admitted" the 1988 agreement has expired.  I have said that we have operated as if it has because we haven't relied on it for Star Control: Origins.

Perhaps you should read the 1988 agreement more closely on what reverts to them and what doesn't.  You have to own something in the first place for something to revert to you by definition.  

In addition, one needs to specify what their work is.   As time has gone on and more investigation has taken place, it's not real clear there is any "work" that they created that would be usable in a new Star Control game.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 05:13:23 pm by Frogboy » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #584 on: April 19, 2018, 05:50:40 pm »

Stardock acquired both the trademark and the copyright to Star Control 3 in which Accolade is listed as the sole author.  That is all of the IP that existed as far as the federal court is concerned.

What IP Paul and Fred actually have is unknown.

The examples you provided above are not applicable here anyway as the rationale is to prevent someone from acquiring a trademark to use for something unrelated.   But consider the implications of your argument, it would make the case that Stardock absolutely must include all the aliens. You said earlier you didnít want this but now argue, in effect, not having them would weaken our claim.  

The new Star Control game certainly fits into the various uses that the Star Control games of the past. A ScI Fi video game developed by the people who own both the trademark and copyright.

Itís pretty disappointing to see people who claim to be fans grasping at straws in the hopes of stopping a new Star Control game. You guys keep wrongly assuming Paul and Fred have a whole bunch of valuable IP.  I used to think that too.  

But the bottom line is that 100% of the registered Star Control IP was transferred to Stardock. Copyright and trademark. Paul, Fred, Riku, Dan, Erol, etc. may have various common law rights but itís unknown and wouldnít prevent a new Star a Control game.

You should watch the new Lost in Space series on Netflix through the eyes of this discussion.

The 1988 agreement clearly states that all work and DERIVATIVE work reverts in the case of bankruptcy or lack of sales. You yourself have admitted that the 1988 contract lapsed and it pretty clearly states what happens when it does. The  agreement makes it pretty clear you bought a lemon.

First, no, I have not "admitted" the 1988 agreement has expired.  I have said that we have operated as if it has because we haven't relied on it for Star Control: Origins.

Perhaps you should read the 1988 agreement more closely on what reverts to them and what doesn't.  You have to own something in the first place for something to revert to you by definition.  

In addition, one needs to specify what their work is.   As time has gone on and more investigation has taken place, it's not real clear there is any "work" that they created that would be usable in a new Star Control game.

Well the Relevant sections are copied here here and here. Per the agreement the 'work' includes all of Star Control 1 and 'As yet Unspecified' (Star Control 2) according to the contract. I think it's pretty clear.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 05:55:47 pm by huhlig » Logged
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