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

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Mormont
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #690 on: April 26, 2018, 08:49:48 pm »

Well that was back in 2017 before everything went down.

I'm sure Stardock can promote it because the content used will be licensed under GPL and Creative Commons.
Which means we'll have to be diligent in making sure that the respective licenses are distributed with the content we provide or P&F can have a slap at us


But Stardock can't promote it as being a part of their release since that would violate the non-commercial use portion of the CC.
They could only do a simple blog post pointing out the free, non-commercial, fan-mod.
Well, pointing to a non-commercial mod for your own commercial product even in a short blog post (as opposed to just modding it in on your own) seems to be toeing the line on commercial promotion - people sometimes buy games because of mods, after all. With that said, that's just my impression and I can't speak to exactly how the legalities of the license(s) would shake out in that situation - it might be yet another complicated legal snafu. But regardless, I think requiring Stardock to look the other way on mods using previous SC content might be a good way to compromise on fan mods if they settle.

I still hope for a settlement, even if doesn't look very likely right now.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:01:30 pm by Mormont » Logged
Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #691 on: April 26, 2018, 08:58:08 pm »

I can't go into exact details because of the NDA, but there will be a fan created UQM & Kessari Universe in Origins eventually.

So, I agree with much of what you said, but I'd suggest that the tone of certainty here is perhaps a bit too strong.  This mainly goes to an observation I've had about the things both sides have been saying (or not saying).  Since the litigation started, Paul and Fred appear to have avoided making any statements about GotP being released, or what's going to be in it, and I think that's appropriate; if the litigation goes against them, they might not be able to follow through.  Brad, in contrast, has made numerous assertions about what UQM elements he's going to put in Stardock's games, and how "If any future games come out that continue the UQM story, it will happen under Stardock's supervision or not at all." (Reply #540)  While he certainly has the right to say such things, talking that way about a matter under litigation comes across to me as unpleasantly arrogant.  I think it would be more civil if both sides showed that they recognized that there were issues under dispute, and avoided making statements that pre-suppose the outcome.  

EDIT: It occurs to me that I shouldn't give a pass to statements made by P&F's PR firm; I know it made some statements that I felt were arrogant, but I'm not sure when the last such statement was made.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:04:36 pm by Elestan » Logged
Mormont
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #692 on: April 26, 2018, 09:04:41 pm »

Quote
I think it would be more civil if both sides showed that they recognized that there were issues under dispute, and avoided making statements that pre-suppose the outcome.  
Incidentally, I've now seen four non-affiliated lawyers comment on this. One leaned toward Stardock, one toward Fred and Paul, two basically neutral. Take that for what it's worth.

(there may have been a fifth who seemed either neutral or leaning toward Paul and Fred, but he didn't say much so I won't count him).
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:06:47 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #693 on: April 26, 2018, 11:59:12 pm »

I don't personally think there's anything wrong with either of the anniversary announcements. They don't seem particularly commercial.

Stardock was at least publicly saying that they weren't going to use any of the copyrighted content in Origins. I've still seen lots of companies make blog posts with screenshots that say "this was a game that inspired us". Courts aren't going to go around shutting down everyone who posts a screenshot.

Similarly, P&F called their game "Ghost of the Precursors" and not Star Control anything. I've still seen lots of game professionals comfortably celebrate the anniversary of games they worked on, even if they played a minor role. Even if they don't own any IP in it as a lowly programmer. Box art and all. Courts aren't shutting that down either.

Here's the thing. Stardock sued P&F because they tied their Star Control anniversary announcement to this new spinoff, and argues that consumers have been thus misled about IP that they don't actually own. By the same token, it would be a problem to promote your Steam pre-orders and fleet battles beta by posting images and characters that you don't actually own. So if we're talking about using someone else's IP to make a misleading commercial statement, then neither party is under scrutiny, or both are. (I lean towards the former, but the lawsuits obviously lean towards the latter.)

That's even ignoring the fact that Stardock used their announcement to literally sell SC1-3 on Steam, without permission from someone who owns two-and-a-piece of those copyrights.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 12:01:29 am by rosepatel » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #694 on: April 27, 2018, 04:16:19 am »

Similarly, P&F called their game "Ghost of the Precursors" and not Star Control anything. I've still seen lots of game professionals comfortably celebrate the anniversary of games they worked on, even if they played a minor role. Even if they don't own any IP in it as a lowly programmer. Box art and all. Courts aren't shutting that down either.

They called it "Ghost of the Precurors, a Star Control 2 sequel", which is very much Star Control something.

"We are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II" goes well past "celebrating an anniversary". Announcing a commercial sequel to someone else's trademark seems like a really blatant violation of trademark. Do you think I could get away with writing a direct sequel to Harry Potter?

(that said, I think the actual damage was much less than Stardock asserts - P&F were clearly in the wrong to misuse the trademark, but at the time it was mild enough that Stardock just rolled with it and went "huzzah, we're also happy to see that sequel get made", and at this point the announcement has been edited not to violate trademarks)

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That's even ignoring the fact that Stardock used their announcement to literally sell SC1-3 on Steam, without permission

Stardock asserts that the rights to sell SC1-3 are part of what they purchased. Given that Accolade made the same mistake when it put the games up on GOG.com, it seems fairly plausible to believe that Stardock was given inaccurate/outdated information.

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...
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #695 on: April 27, 2018, 09:07:48 am »

"We are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II" goes well past "celebrating an anniversary". Announcing a commercial sequel to someone else's trademark seems like a really blatant violation of trademark. Do you think I could get away with writing a direct sequel to Harry Potter?

You couldn't.  But this seems more like Time Warner, who owns the trademark to "Harry Potter" in printed media telling J.K. Rowling, who owns the copyright to all the novels, that she's not allowed to announce a "sequel" to "Harry Potter" without its permission.  That doesn't feel nearly as clear-cut.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #696 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 GOG.com via the GOG.com 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.
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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #697 on: April 27, 2018, 10:23:28 pm »

"We are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II" goes well past "celebrating an anniversary". Announcing a commercial sequel to someone else's trademark seems like a really blatant violation of trademark. Do you think I could get away with writing a direct sequel to Harry Potter?

You couldn't.  But this seems more like Time Warner, who owns the trademark to "Harry Potter" in printed media telling J.K. Rowling, who owns the copyright to all the novels, that she's not allowed to announce a "sequel" to "Harry Potter" without its permission.  That doesn't feel nearly as clear-cut.
Miss Rowling is British, so she could disregard any US American trademark registrations, as long as she does not publish there.
The trademark in Europe is also owned by Warner (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/000935593). For recordings, and printed stuff.
According to the German Wikipedia about Miss Rowling, she kept the publishing rights, even for the USoA, when she did her contract with Time Warner. I did not spot that remark in the English wikipedia.
So it may well be that Warner has the trademark, but that she has an irrevocable license for printed stuff anyway, but I simply do not know anything about her agreements (except that she kept quite a broad range of unusual rights, like a veto forany actor/actress . It may force her to talk with Warner first, though, if she ever publishes a new book.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #698 on: April 29, 2018, 08:17:52 pm »

I find another sorry thing about this IP struggle, is that what interested me most about Origins were the things it might do differently, particularly in terms of game play. Maintaining continuity with someone else story line never seemed important.

Stardock has a lot of strategy game experience and SC1 (like Archon) was a mix of action and strategy. That SC2 had to trade out that strategy element to make room for the RPG element is quite understandable given its production constraints. SC3 may have tried to reintroduce the strategy element from SC1 and botched it but SC3 botched everything; it was a failure of execution in every aspect. So the prospect of seeing Origins become an action-strategy-RPG is interesting to me. That Brad talked so much about Starflight, a game which covered the planet exploration aspects of a space exploration RPG in greater detail than SC2 could is interesting to me.

But these things have nothing to do with maintaining a hold on Star Control IP. Other recent games in this "genre" (such as Spore, No Man's Sky and Mass Effect) did not fail or prevail due to their creating and using original IPs. It all came down to how interesting their game play innovations were or were not and how well they executed their story potential or did not.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #699 on: April 30, 2018, 10:09:32 pm »

Brad, in contrast, has made numerous assertions about what UQM elements he's going to put in Stardock's games, and how "If any future games come out that continue the UQM story, it will happen under Stardock's supervision or not at all." (Reply #540)

Yeah, I've read that too. That's just the conclusion, though, I think that the most alarming statements Brad made are in his previous post:

Quote
In commercial software, the trademark is all that matters.

What would the copyright to Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 do for us? I didn't even bother copyrighting it.  The art, source code, etc. are worthless today.  

What stops someone from making a new game with the Drengin Empire, Arceans? Not the copyright. The trademark.  The trademark to Galactic Civilizations ensures that the Drengin Empire won't show up in another game.

People in this debate have demonstrated they have no idea what a trademark is.  They think it's about a name.  They're to protect consumers from confusion.  If another game came out and claimed to have the Drengin Empire and we could show that gamers might be confused into believing that game was related to Galactic Civilizations that would be trademark infringement.

If what Brad says here is true, then I just fail to see the smallest speck of rational motivation in any of Fred and Paul's actions against Stardock. There is literally nothing they could gain out of all this, while they (and by extension, the UQM fan community) have nearly everything to lose. Then again, it wasn't F&P who started the lawsuit, so maybe they just didn't expect that their actions were going to have such consequences. So here are some explanations there could be for this:

1. Brad's accusations against F&P are true, and F&P knew that they had no right to do what they were doing, but they did it anyway hoping that Stardock (and Brad personally, since he claims to have been F&P's fanboy for a long time) would cave in to their demands. Plus, as Brad also claims, F&P would steal some of the playerbase from Stardock thanks to their "smear campaign". However, this is extremely petty and underhanded, and it's simply not worth putting the future of the UQM universe at risk over this. I just hope that this is not true.

2. F&P are just that legally incompetent and they genuinely didn't realize what Stardock's ownership of the Star Control trademark meant. The fact that they released UQM as a freeware open-source project clearly indicates that F&P thought they had the right to do so, and so does their claim that GOG had to sign a separate contract with them personally in order to continue distributing the classic games. However, I highly doubt that they're that incompetent, since they've been in the game development business longer than Stardock has even existed.

3. Brad intentionally makes it seem that Stardock's legal advantage is that overwhelming (as other posters here have suggested), and in reality their position is much weaker. This is also consistent with F&P's actions with the UQM project and GOG, and I really hope that this is really the case, but I also see that it's not wise to underestimate Stardock (although nothing we do here will have any impact on the lawsuit's outcome, anyway).
« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 10:23:53 pm by PRH » Logged
Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #700 on: April 30, 2018, 10:50:00 pm »

3. Brad intentionally makes it seem that Stardock's legal advantage is that overwhelming.

Another eye-catching quote from that thread was reply #634 where he said that
Quote from: Frogboy
Stardock, like Atari before it, could shut down UQM at any time if that was what it wanted.

Without commenting on the strength of the legal positions (I'm not qualified), I do agree with the start of your #3 assessment:  I think that that Brad is trying to take a posture of aggressive confidence going into the formal court negotiations, and his statements need to be viewed through that lens.  More generally, I think that anything said by anyone actively involved in litigation must be assumed to have an element of posturing in it, and should be viewed with appropriate skepticism.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #701 on: May 01, 2018, 06:02:27 am »

I'm not qualified either, but that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion.

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In commercial software, the trademark is all that matters.

I disagree entirely. Copyright is also important. Frequently the two are aligned so the distinction never comes up. Somewhat related; in a text search of Stardock's complaint against P&F, I find 54 instances of 'trademark', and 54 of 'copyright'.

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What would the copyright to Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 do for us? I didn't even bother copyrighting it.  The art, source code, etc. are worthless today.  

I don't have an opinion on the value, but it has copyright automatically. It belongs to whoever created it, or their employer if employed at the time, or whoever it was or has since been contracted to.

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What stops someone from making a new game with the Drengin Empire, Arceans? Not the copyright. The trademark.  The trademark to Galactic Civilizations ensures that the Drengin Empire won't show up in another game.

Again, disagree. I see nothing at all that stops someone making such a game at all if their Drengin or Arceans are sufficiently dissimilar from Stardock's. This is exactly what Stardock are doing with Arilou, etc. On the other hand, I think putting Drengin and Arcean together in a space game already looks suspiciously similar to certain existing works.

Quote
People in this debate have demonstrated they have no idea what a trademark is.  They think it's about a name.  They're to protect consumers from confusion.  If another game came out and claimed to have the Drengin Empire and we could show that gamers might be confused into believing that game was related to Galactic Civilizations that would be trademark infringement.

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.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 06:51:36 am by WibbleNZ » Logged
Death 999
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #702 on: May 01, 2018, 07:33:00 pm »

I'm really unsure about that last part.
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Lakstoties
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #703 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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cIBcl7dD4w#action=share

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.
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rosepatel
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #704 on: May 01, 2018, 10:33:38 pm »

Similarly, P&F called their game "Ghost of the Precursors" and not Star Control anything. I've still seen lots of game professionals comfortably celebrate the anniversary of games they worked on, even if they played a minor role. Even if they don't own any IP in it as a lowly programmer. Box art and all. Courts aren't shutting that down either.

They called it "Ghost of the Precurors, a Star Control 2 sequel", which is very much Star Control something.

"We are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II" goes well past "celebrating an anniversary". Announcing a commercial sequel to someone else's trademark seems like a really blatant violation of trademark. Do you think I could get away with writing a direct sequel to Harry Potter?

You missed my distinction. They didn't call the game Star Control. They used Star Control in reference to announcing the game.

That's an important distinction, since most Trademark infringement cases revolve around someone actually selling a product with the Trademark on it. Paul and Fred didn't sell anything, let alone say that's what the product was called. They crept up to a line, and it's going to be up to a judge to figure out if they crossed it.

Stardock is for sure trumpeting their rights in the Trademark. But it really is just a mark in trade. It's not complete exclusive use of a phrase, let alone the copyrighted art/story/software that accompanies that phrase.

The Harry Potter example is a bad one, because you're not JK Rowling. This is a unique legal battle between two bonafide rightholders.

Here's a better example. Paramount Pictures suing Mario Puzo to keep him from releasing a follow up to the Godfather novels. One IP holder versus another.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/feb/22/godfather-sequel-paramount-pictures-book

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/paramount-mario-puzo-estate-settle-406160

This Godfather example should show a few important things. One is that most of these cases settle. Another is that the law on split-IP tends to be ambiguous BECAUSE so many lawsuits between two bonafide IP owners are settled, probably because they are so uncertain about what a judge would actually decide. And the third, and most relevant to your reply, is that the original copyright holder always has a lot of rights in the thing they created, including saying they created it, and creating/announcing all kinds of derivative works.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 10:44:06 pm by rosepatel » Logged
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