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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: Stardock Litigation Discussion  (Read 33943 times)
Serosis
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #345 on: September 23, 2018, 07:35:29 pm »

i have played the game from what i have gotten into they nicked the entire sc2 script and cut it up and rearranged it, replaced the aliens, and set it back in time. PR & FF are going to a legal Christmas with this

Stunning summary. You bring the script to life good sir.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #346 on: September 23, 2018, 11:04:58 pm »

Once this is all over I'd shoulder a hefty bar tab to get some off the record conversation with the people from Nixon-Peabody. That is not some bush-league law firm and I can only imagine the [screams internally] inner-monologue going on over there. That response doesn't even address some of the arguments from the last filing.

I doubt NP cares at all about the outcome of the litigation or Stardock's consumer goodwill. I imagine they dislike Brad. He seems like a demanding client and his vanity litigation doesn't raise interesting issues. Probably their only concern besides getting paid is papering all of their warnings to Brad and forcing him to provide all instructions in writing.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2018, 11:07:24 pm by Denning » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #347 on: September 24, 2018, 12:56:17 am »

i have played the game from what i have gotten into they nicked the entire sc2 script and cut it up and rearranged it, replaced the aliens, and set it back in time. PR & FF are going to a legal Christmas with this

Stunning summary. You bring the script to life good sir.

Yes i know <3 i try my best Embarrassed but yes many parts of it give you a sense of Déjà vu
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #348 on: September 24, 2018, 03:04:32 am »

The strangest thing about this is the claim that F&P didn't create the SC2 universe - sure, they had help. But not the main creators? Please.
I remember a patch update note from the original game (unfindable now, I searched - the sc2 patch is long gone), which stated that accolade tried to find F&P after the game was released for two months, but they'd just 'gone away'. Then, they came back and gave a patch which fixed all sorts of stuff and introduced somewhere between 5-10 new types of worlds, and a bunch of other stuff. They really did 'make' that game.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #349 on: September 24, 2018, 04:44:28 pm »

It was in a text file bundled with the game
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Ariloulawleelay
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #350 on: September 25, 2018, 01:20:19 am »

My own, much less legally savvy summary of the whole situation: http://crimsoncorporation.org/reasons/

I'm not trying to speak for the community, but the Stardock Q+A has an obvious bias, and the UQM wiki has tried to remain neutral. I wanted a resource I could point people at to give a solid summary of why I've found Stardock's behavior so shameful, and why I won't be buying Star Control: Origins.


I try to look at the dispute in terms of discrete analogies.

The bigger moral questions - was it wrong for Stardock to appropriate SC2's hitherto unique depictions of hyperspace and rainbow worlds? - don't really factor into my thinking.

I say all that because I don't really see your Case Against Stardock as "less legally savvy;" it's an approach from a different angle, but a no less meaningful one. Thank you for sharing it with us. Ideally, once all of the facts are known, the path of law and the path of justice will converge. Perhaps that will even happen here.

As far as the "new" legal material you linked to goes, I was struck by how... familiar some of the correspondence was.

Quote
[We own] the rights to the title Star Control, and you[, PaulReiche,] own the rights to the classic background material created for Star Control and Star Control 2. This has created confusion.... To help everyone get maximum value out of Star Control, we would like to unify the Star Control license and make a deal where you get a cut of everything...whether it uses the classic background material or not....

We want to include the classic Star Control background as part of the back story in the new [Star Control] game. As we did in Star Control 3, we would also create additional new background material and continue to expand the Star Control universe....

[We get] different advantages from using the Star Control name and the classic background in the new game. In the first place, the name has recognition value with the buyers, press, and consumers. In a crowded market, these busy people might give the game a second look because the remember the name fondly from previous games. In the second place, the classic background has some recognition value with the consumers and press who were fans of the previous games. This can help us generate good word of mouth from a dedicated consumer base.

However [we] already own the rights to the name Star Control. We can get positive name recognition whether we use the classic background material or not. Thus, or main reason to license the classic background material from you is to help create a good initial impression of our game among the Star Control fan base. And our game must be popular far beyond the Star Control fan base to be successful.

Personally, I like the classic background material. I want to watch the future actions of classic races like the Spathi and the Ur-Quan. I think Star Control fans will also enjoy the game more if we can continue to tell these stories.

Quote
I know the [dev] team would like to meet you and Fred, and we would love to show off the new stuff that we're working on.... You could come down late morning, meet the team, share some lunch....

One could be forgiven for thinking that these emails were from Stardock regarding SCO rather than from Accolade regarding SC4. The same goes for PaulReiche's responses:

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Fred and I created Star Control and we own it - its themes, settings, plot lines, characters, its "essence" as an entity unique from any other science-fiction game. SC3 was created with our permission under the terms of our Agreement with Accolade.

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I appreciate your affection for the material and your team's faith in Star Control. This means a great deal to us, as does our games' ongoing fandom. Nonetheless, we think it[']s a better idea for you and your team to move on to an entirely new fiction and style of game, either under the trademark Star Control or an entirely new line.... [T]he Star Control universe has value significant in excess of what you can offer us, and some day we'd like to explore those opportunities.

Unlike the more modern back-and-forth, this exchange resulted in a licensing deal - Addendum No. 3 - wherein the Publisher paid F&P in order to incorporate the classic background material into Starcon. The letters also seem to confirm that the Addendum was intended as a novation with respect to lapsed Sequel rights, as Accolade admitted to needing a license to "make sure Accolade can plan on using the [classic] material in future projects." George MacDonald, speaking on behalf of Accolade, explained that:

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If we don't publish anything with the classic background for three years, the license lapses.
If we don't publish anything with the classic background for three years, we offer to negotiate in good faith to license the Star Control trademark to Toys for Bob when you want to use it.

Quote
If Accolade ever withholds publication of new Star Control products for 3 years, then we [lose] our chain of options and promise to negotiate in good faith so that you can license the Star Control trademark from us.

It also looks as though Accolade drafted Addendum No. 3 and sent executed copies to PaulReiche for his signature. In an attempt to appear legally savvy, I will note that this usually means that any ambiguities in Addendum No. 3 should be construed in favor of F&P.

It is interesting to me, from a litigation standpoint, that had this lawsuit been filed 20 years ago as Accolade v. Reiche, George and Steve would have been key witnesses for the plaintiff. Accolade's entire case likely would have been built around their anticipated testimony. And since Stardock owns, at most, the same rights once owned by Accolade, their testimony could be just as valuable today. (Like much of the testimony and many of the documents from back then, it also might be incontrovertible from Stardock's perspective.) But did Stardock even know that these witnesses existed until reading the discovery responses? Do George and Steve feel any loyalty towards Stardock? Any affinity with F&P?

In the same vein, if Stardock does start laying off members of the dev team, I would take that as a sign that it is throwing in the towel. The last thing Stardock needs is a new crop of potentially hostile witnesses who can explain exactly which elements of SCO are based on prior installments.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #351 on: September 25, 2018, 02:13:00 pm »

One question for Ariloulawleelay: are these proposals to strike the opposition's declarations just standard legal procedure, as a way of jockeying for as much advantage as possible?

And like I said before, it's really hard to believe everyone involved with the Star Control IP for decades completely misunderstood the legal rights and/or was hoodwinked by Reiche/Ford's cunning schemes (Accolade I'm sure knew quite a bit about SC2's internal development process and who worked on it). Which is what Stardock's narrative requires.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 02:14:50 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #352 on: September 26, 2018, 01:20:54 am »

i came across this searching background information on brad wardell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY1Zk7TiPec

to sum it up

"do you, brad wardell, have a license or show us a license, that you own star control?" yes or no?
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #353 on: September 26, 2018, 02:16:23 am »

i came across this searching background information on brad wardell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY1Zk7TiPec

to sum it up

"do you, brad wardell, have a license or show us a license, that you own star control?" yes or no?

Although I'm not Brad Wardell, this question is easy to answer – although the answer depends on what you mean by "owning Star Control".

If you mean the trademark, then yes, Stardock does own it, although F&P seek to invalidate it in their counterclaim, since they allege that the trademark was renewed fraudulently back when Atari owned it.

If you mean the copyright, then Stardock owns the copyright to SC3 (except the characters licensed by F&P), and obviously SCO (unless F&P prove that some content in SCO infringes on their copyright). Stardock also apparently owns the copyright to the printed materials that accompanied SC1 and SC2, such as the game manuals and the printed starmap for SC2. Stardock does not own the copyright to SC1 and SC2 themselves, although in their complaint they seek to invalidate F&P's copyrights to the games, since they argue that it was Accolade who developed them, and F&P were simply contractors who held no special claim to the copyright.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 02:31:40 am by PRH » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #354 on: September 26, 2018, 02:29:07 am »

thank you for the update...man this is such a mess...
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #355 on: September 26, 2018, 03:18:20 am »

It gets extra weird because Stardock is claiming that the "Star Control" mark includes "anything the public connects with  Star Control", so (again, according to Stardock), Paul & Fred can't have any aliens called "Orz" or "Arilou" in a space-adventure game, because it would confuse the public.

Stardock also claims that the 1988 agreement is somehow still in effect, despite a clause that terminated it after 3 years without sales, and terminate again upon bankruptcy actions, and a third clause that required Paul & Fred to sign off on any reassignment of the license.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #356 on: September 26, 2018, 03:40:08 am »

Stardock also claims that the 1988 agreement is somehow still in effect, despite a clause that terminated it after 3 years without sales, and terminate again upon bankruptcy actions, and a third clause that required Paul & Fred to sign off on any reassignment of the license.

As we both know, Stardock's claims go further now. They now claim that the 1988 agreement has never been valid to begin with, since, according to Stardock, F&P did not own the copyright they were licensing.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #357 on: September 26, 2018, 02:53:43 pm »

As we both know, Stardock's claims go further now. They now claim that the 1988 agreement has never been valid to begin with, since, according to Stardock, F&P did not own the copyright they were licensing.

One problem I see with that argument is that §9.2 of the 1988 agreement says:
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To the best of Developer's knowledge, the Work is the property of Developer [...] Developer shall be responsible for all costs arising from legal actions which question or dispute such rights of ownership.
(emphasis added)

The emphasized phrase is probably why Stardock's lawyers are accusing Paul of committing a knowing fraud, because if it was just an honest oversight, the contract isn't breached at all.

And to me (though I'm still not a lawyer), this section would seem to indicate that the parties had already considered the possibility of flaws in Paul's IP claims, and had agreed that if any such flaws existed, they would not negate the contract entirely, but rather would simply make Paul bear the cost of dealing with them.  Indeed, I can't think of why Accolade would want such issues to negate the contract completely, since that would leave them with no license to Paul's work at all.

So IMHO, the implication of other contributors having potentially retained some of the copyrights is that Paul would need to defend Stardock from any suit they might bring.  But since they've now assigned their copyrights to Paul, that is a moot point.

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #358 on: September 26, 2018, 03:29:23 pm »

Problem is, now the legal successor of the publisher causes the legal action, which according to the contract term, the developer must pay for.
So, the developers must bear the costs of the litigant, and of the defendant in this specific case (where the litigant is the legal successor of the publisher, and the defendant the developer), the way I read these clauses.

Quote from: 1988 agreement, paragraph 9.2: Rights of Ownership
To the best of Developer's knowledge, the Work is the property of Developer [...]
 Developer shall be responsible for all costs arising from legal actions which question or dispute such rights of ownership.
(emphasis added)

The way Stardock works seems to be a misuse of this clause. No matter if Stardock wins or loses this specific allegation, if the emphasized sentence is allowed by the judge, this will drain the funds of PR and FF even faster.

But I am not a lawyer, and therefore I do not know of precedent cases that disallow such a misuse of contract language.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 03:34:26 pm by Krulle » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #359 on: September 26, 2018, 03:53:04 pm »

Problem is, now the legal successor of the publisher causes the legal action, which according to the contract term, the developer must pay for.
[...]But I am not a lawyer, and therefore I do not know of precedent cases that disallow such a misuse of contract language.

I see where you're coming from, but I have a lot of trouble believing that a court would read this as allowing Stardock to claim that Paul needs to protect it from its own actions, when the clause was pretty clearly written with third parties in mind.
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