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

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Author Topic: Stardock Litigation Discussion  (Read 49824 times)
SC3 Did Nothing Wrong
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #90 on: August 10, 2018, 08:00:17 pm »

Wouldn't it be closer to a new Final Fantasy game where the universe and story are different different from other Final Fantasies but some characters (cd. Cid) make appearances but are not the same as Cid's from other Final Fantasy games.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #91 on: August 10, 2018, 08:35:08 pm »

But FF has no continuity except for FFT-2 and FFX-2. So none of the Cids are the same anyway. So all that's common is the label and a tendency towards being mechanically inclined, esp. regards things that fly but not exclusively. This is quite different from Arilou and Chenjesu.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 08:37:05 pm by Death 999 » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #92 on: August 11, 2018, 12:52:00 am »

Wouldn't it be closer to a new Final Fantasy game where the universe and story are different different from other Final Fantasies but some characters (cd. Cid) make appearances but are not the same as Cid's from other Final Fantasy games.

SCO is more akin to the 2009 Star Trek reboot but without all the "old faces".
It isn't using the few classic races as a crutch but more as a pleasant how-do-you-do.

Think alternate universe. The classic aliens still exist, but they are in drastically different situations.

Like, the Ur-Quan could be somewhere out there in the SCO Universe, but there never was a Sentient Mileu and they never met the Dnyarri. That's the kind of alternate universe this is.
Making a mountain of a mole hill here with the use of classic races.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 12:54:59 am by Serosis » Logged

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #93 on: August 11, 2018, 02:12:43 am »

Making a mountain of a mole hill here with the use of classic races.

If only Stardock saw it that way.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #94 on: August 11, 2018, 02:48:42 am »

1. Re: the gotp announcement debacle - When calling gotp the "true sequel" to star control 2 (not simply star control as stardock keep asserting), it seems most likely to me that P&F were referring to supplanting the star control 3 storyline as canon. Their later revisions of the text to now call it the "direct sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters" seems to support this. Stardock are very hung up on this announcement thing, and assert that it was done maliciously, especially the "true sequel" wording.
The onus is on Stardock to support the assertion of maliciousness, right? Common sense tells me that P&F should just cede this point as an honest slipup, but what are the ramifications of that?

Once things are in litigation, neither party tends to concede things when they could force the other side to try to prove them.  But your assessment roughly matches mine; I think P&F probably made a couple of honest mistakes in their initial announcements;

* They used the SC2 box cover image in it.
* They used the phrase "Star Control II®" in their announcement, but forgot to add the fine print phrase "Star Control is a registered trademark of Stardock Systems Inc."

They fairly quickly remedied these, so I see no evidence that they were a deliberate trademark infringement.  However, Stardock appears to want to try to maximize the pressure on P&F by trying to color their actions as deliberately malicious and fraudulent.

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2. Stardock asserts that they need/want to register all the original alien names to strengthen their Star Control trademark. Could it be argued that they are really weakening it?

I don't think they're weakening it further, unless P&F actually succeed in getting it cancelled.  Even then, Stardock can just claim a fresh trademark; nobody else is trying to make a game called "Star Control" right now.

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On the legal side, can this be meaningfully compared to domain squatting?

Vaguely, perhaps.  The body of law is entirely different, and the precept that you can't just claim identifiers without using them holds much more strongly with trademarks.

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I see that the trademark applications were filed in March. What do the courts typically think about filing for trademarks on things that are subject to ongoing litigation?

My understanding is that at some point in the trademark opposition process, P&F will tell the TM office "These trademark are the subject of ongoing litigation", and the TM office will put them all on hold until the court rules.

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3. Does all the PR spin that Stardock produces serve any legal function at all?

I don't think so.  I think the issue is that Stardock has pursued such a scorched-earth legal strategy that unless it manages to make P&F into villains, much of the gaming public isn't going to buy that it was justified.

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Is there actually a jury deciding this case in the end, that may be swayed by this stuff?

I would expect any juror who has read anything about this case to be disqualified, so no.

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Or is this just damage control to try to keep their litigation from harming the sales of SC:O?

This.

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4. I have noticed that Brad used to go around posting that he was using people's forum posts as "evidence". Is there any merit to this, or is it just a scare tactic?


Well, evidence of actual brand confusion caused by P&F's statements is one factor that goes into the legal calculations, so it's not completely specious, but they seem to have already picked their exhibit (it was a post from RPGCodex).  I think it was mostly a scare tactic.

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Which party, if any, are we hurting by having these discussions?

Legally, I don't think forum discussions matter much at all, but they can factor in the general gaming community's opinion over who is being (un)reasonable, and that could influence future sales.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #95 on: August 11, 2018, 03:02:16 am »

So, this structurally sounds like me writing a book inspired by the Harry Potter novels, just set in a parallell dimension, where a lot of the same characters make (cameo) appearances. Except Harry Potter doesn't wear glasses for whatever reason. And I trademark Hagrid, because it's important to this brand I'm building. 

Or is that a false equivalence?

That seems reasonably close to me.  Stardock is probably trying to change the characters more than that, so maybe Hagrid is villainous or something.

Wouldn't it be closer to a new Final Fantasy game where the universe and story are different different from other Final Fantasies but some characters (cd. Cid) make appearances but are not the same as Cid's from other Final Fantasy games.

Not really, because aren't the copyrights and trademarks for the FF franchise all owned by Enix?  If so, they've got total control, and can do whatever they want.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #96 on: August 11, 2018, 04:30:46 am »

So, this structurally sounds like me writing a book inspired by the Harry Potter novels, just set in a parallell dimension, where a lot of the same characters make (cameo) appearances. Except Harry Potter doesn't wear glasses for whatever reason. And I trademark Hagrid, because it's important to this brand I'm building.  

Or is that a false equivalence?

That seems reasonably close to me.  Stardock is probably trying to change the characters more than that, so maybe Hagrid is villainous or something.

I already gave a reasonable comparison from the perspective of someone who has already played the full game.

Alternate Universes/Timelines are in effect here.
It is a reboot into a completely different timeline a la Star Trek 2009 without resorting to piggybacking on the classic characters.
I.E. New captain, new commander, new aliens, new story, new sector, new starmap, new flagship, new melee, new planets, new minerals, new creatures, and new versions of the classic races when they cameo.

Is it really that hard to wrap the thought around that these races would exist in alternate universes/timelines?

Nobody here watches Stargate, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Rick & Morty, Back to the Future, Red Dwarf, etc, etc, etc?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 04:33:11 am by Serosis » Logged

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #97 on: August 11, 2018, 05:10:59 am »

Is it really that hard to wrap the thought around that these races would exist in alternate universes/timelines?

Nobody here watches Stargate, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Rick & Morty, Back to the Future, Red Dwarf, etc, etc, etc?

Coincidentally, I just got done re-watching SG:Atlantis.

The alternate universes/timelines isn't confusing, but it seems to me that any attempt by Stardock to say that they are in an "alternate" variant of the classic SC setting is still a copyright violation.  Without a license, they just don't have the right to claim to connect their game to that setting in any way.  They should just say "This is a new universe, with new aliens and characters", and be done with it.  What do they gain by insisting on that connection, other than hostilities with P&F?

It isn't using the few classic races as a crutch but more as a pleasant how-do-you-do.

I would say that forcing those races into the game may not be a crutch, but doing it against their creators' wishes certainly isn't a "pleasant how-do-you-do"; it's more of a spiteful gesture made for dubious legal purposes.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #98 on: August 11, 2018, 09:22:49 am »

I saw it more as P&F slyly saying that Stardock isn't doing "genuine" Star Control because it doesn't have this laundry list of aliens, so Stardock retorted with a couple of cameos.
I agree it's a hot mess but it can just as easily be explained in-universe.

I wouldn't know how a jury or a court will think of it but I believe that the aliens (name & designs) are connected to the Star Control "brand", so to speak, but they are also connected to the UQM "brand".
My opinion is both Stardock and P&F should be able to have the right to their respective versions.

Stardock is bending over backwards to redesign them, so why not let them?

P&F can keep the designs as they are in UQM and refresh them for their sequel.

The only trouble I can foresee is that the trademarks would force P&F to not be able to use the alien names in promotions or advertising if they decide to not license them from Stardock.
I would love for P&F to find a loophole and "stick it to the man" as it were. Something that they've been good at since they've started.

I've speculated that it would be ironic if they would make their sequel in the SCO engine as a paid mod on Steam. Kind of a way to just shove it right up Stardock's tail-pipe in plain sight.
Full price, bingo-bango, UQM2 in SCO. It would be friggin' hilarious.

I know it would never happen, but the thought of it tickles me.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #99 on: August 11, 2018, 12:13:10 pm »

Except the guys at Stardock are right out saying that their trademarks on all the names prevents P&F from making a new game with any of the names in.

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Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:00 PM
Paul & Fred can make something similar to Fwiffo. But they don't own the name Fwiffo.
They never did.
Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:01 PM
They could actually just use a different name and use the same lore.
But names are protected under trademarks.

Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:03 PM
You can't make your own Captain Picard in your story.
Just as P&F can't use Fwiffo because they don't own the name.
They were offered the trademark.

Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:03 PM
And had multiple opportunities to work with Stardock.
They chose to get lawyers involved.

THEY chose to get lawyers involved! (even though we sued them first...)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 12:16:46 pm by Boerta » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #100 on: August 11, 2018, 12:18:56 pm »

I wouldn't know how a jury or a court will think of it but I believe that the aliens (name & designs) are connected to the Star Control "brand", so to speak, but they are also connected to the UQM "brand".

There's no official connection when it comes to federal law.  There's nothng under the "Star Control" mark's federal registration that shows any kind of connection.  Anything of that nature is Stardock's horrific portrayl of how federal trademark law works.  The tradeamark registration simply covers the mark itself... nothing more.

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My opinion is both Stardock and P&F should be able to have the right to their respective versions.

Stardock is bending over backwards to redesign them, so why not let them?

Copyright law.  And Stardock isn't bending backwards over to redesign them... they're just trying to see how close they can get in an attempt to subvert the law.  If they had any honest intent to avoid issues...  They WOULD NOT be using the same names and use all the major atttributes in their designs.  They have shown the ability to design their own... why design them so closely to the original concepts and have them so possibly derivative?

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The only trouble I can foresee is that the trademarks would force P&F to not be able to use the alien names in promotions or advertising if they decide to not license them from Stardock.

Paul and Fred DO NOT have to license anything from Stardock.  Again, another misrepresentation of the law from Stardock.  Stardock CANNOT use their supposed trademark filings as a means of limitation of freedom of expression.  Period.  That would be a First Amendment violation.  As per the Rogers Test.  The aliens are creatively significant to their work.  Even if the marks get past the trademark office, they only protect the labeling OUTSIDE and ON a product not the discussion of what COMPROMISES and is IN the product itself.

Again, Stardock is completely and absolutely wrong in their shown demonstration of the trademark law.  They are basically filing a mass of frivilous claims to financially fatigue their opponent.  They are blatantly abusing trademark law in a twisted attempt to override copyright law.

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I would love for P&F to find a loophole and "stick it to the man" as it were. Something that they've been good at since they've started.

They don't need to find a loophole.  They are protected by the laws normally.  Stardock is trying to twist it.

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I've speculated that it would be ironic if they would make their sequel in the SCO engine as a paid mod on Steam. Kind of a way to just shove it right up Stardock's tail-pipe in plain sight.
Full price, bingo-bango, UQM2 in SCO. It would be friggin' hilarious.

I know it would never happen, but the thought of it tickles me.

Why would they ever need to use Stardock's product to make their own?  That's not shoving up Stardock's tail-pipe...  That would be near capitulation and exactly what Stardock wanted in the first place apart from complete control.


DO NOT believe Stardock's use of law...  They are WRONG.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #101 on: August 11, 2018, 05:33:51 pm »

I saw it more as P&F slyly saying that Stardock isn't doing "genuine" Star Control because it doesn't have this laundry list of aliens, so Stardock retorted with a couple of cameos.

I don't think that's quite right.  At most, P&F are suggesting that the lack of those aliens means that SC:O isn't a genuine sequel to SC2.  And to a great degree, they're right:  If I heard that SC:O was a sequel to SC2, and bought it on that basis, I would be very disappointed, because I'd be looking to find out about what Zelnick, Talana, and Fwiffo did after destroying the Sa-Matra.

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I wouldn't know how a jury or a court will think of it but I believe that the aliens (name & designs) are connected to the Star Control "brand", so to speak, but they are also connected to the UQM "brand".
My opinion is both Stardock and P&F should be able to have the right to their respective versions

I'm reasonably confident that Stardock's trademark claims on the alien names are flawed enough that they won't be able to to stop P&F from using them.  The YouTuberLaw guy seemed to think that they were just a legal pressure tactic, by which I presume he means a way to increase the legal fees on both sides in the hope of running P&F out of money.

I'm less confident as to whether P&F's copyright claims can block Stardock's use of the aliens.  That's a jury question, and juries are unpredictable.  Moreover, Stardock is (of course) starting with the races where they have the best chance of winning.  I'm guessing that if they win on the Arilou and Chenjesu, they'll start trying to push the boundary by gradually introducing the other races, knowing that even if using the Spathi would be infringing, P&F would need to start the litigation process all over again to stop them.

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I've speculated that it would be ironic if they would make their sequel in the SCO engine as a paid mod on Steam. Kind of a way to just shove it right up Stardock's tail-pipe in plain sight.
Full price, bingo-bango, UQM2 in SCO. It would be friggin' hilarious.

No, that would be monumentally stupid:  It would entangle P&F's IP with Stardock's even further, make them reliant on Stardock for their underlying technology, and help to drive the sales of a company that's making them take the money they had saved to make GotP and give it to lawyers instead.  As Lak observed, that wouldn't be "shoving it right up Stardock's tail-pipe"; that would be handing Brad almost everything he wanted on a silver platter.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #102 on: August 11, 2018, 05:36:12 pm »

Is there actually a jury deciding this case in the end, that may be swayed by this stuff?
My understanding is that, when a jury is selected, they specifically try to get people who don't know anything about the case, to avoid bias due to emotional investment. I don't know whether this case would be decided by jury, but if it is, they probably won't be swayed by this stuff.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #103 on: August 11, 2018, 06:06:09 pm »

Except the guys at Stardock are right out saying that their trademarks on all the names prevents P&F from making a new game with any of the names in.

That's the thing...they don't have trademarks on all the names.  They are claiming to have trademarks on all the names, but that doesn't mean a thing until either the trademark office or a court validates their claim.  

Quote from: SchismNavigator
They could actually just use a different name and use the same lore. But names are protected under trademarks.

Just because names are protected under trademark does not mean that every name qualifies for that protection.

Quote from: Boerta
Quote from: SchismNavigator
They were offered the trademark. And had multiple opportunities to work with Stardock. They chose to get lawyers involved.

THEY chose to get lawyers involved! (even though we sued them first...)

Yes, Stardock often chooses their phrasing carefully to allow them to paint a veneer of truth over a misleading statement.  P&F's DMCA seems to have been the first formal legal demand made.  But it wasn't the first recorded involvement by a lawyer; that would be Stardock's filing for a trademark on SUPER-MELEE in October.  So it's clear that Stardock already had lawyers involved at that point.  

Moreover, even Stardock's claim that they sued in response to P&F's DMCA is highly suspect.  The best I can tell (and if anyone can get me a date certain that would be great), P&F sent their DMCA on Monday December 4.  Stardock filed their lawsuit on Friday December 8.  Now, I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps a lawyer here could weigh in, but is it even plausible to think that a 90 page complaint could be prepared and filed within four days?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 06:33:24 pm by Elestan » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #104 on: August 12, 2018, 12:12:21 am »


Quote

Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:03 PM
And had multiple opportunities to work with Stardock.
They chose to get lawyers involved.

THEY chose to get lawyers involved! (even though we sued them first...)

Not that there's anything wrong with that, right?

I have never really understood this argument, perhaps because it's not really legally meaningful (and thus beyond my comprehension). But, as I understand it, on October 7th, Frogboy emailed Fred to say that, among other things, Stardock: (i) had discussed the dispute at length with Stardock's own legal counsel; (ii) will not interfere with F&P's then-unnamed sequel; and (iii) would put F&P's attorney in contact with Stardock's law firm.

Over the next few days, F&P both: (a) announced GOTP, possibly rushing before point (ii) could be withdrawn; and (b) directed their attorney to avail himself of offer (iii), which he did through a decidedly non-assertive letter. If it's true that "this is the first time lawyers have been involved," then we might surmise that Frogboy was bluffing in point (i), but I don't see how that makes F&P's relative timing nefarious.



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Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:03 PM
You can't make your own Captain Picard in your story.
Just as P&F can't use Fwiffo because they don't own the name.
They were offered the trademark.

I find Stardock's decision to invoke Star Trek here confusing. Most references to well-known IP are somewhat inapposite, if only because most franchises' trademarks and copyrights are not split up they way that Star Control's are. But there was a junior user who wanted to make (and raise money for) his own Star Trek film, which featured both named alien species and individuals from the Star Trek canon. Despite CBS and Paramount having numerous registered trademarks for many of the names in question, the inevitable lawsuit sounded in copyright, not trademark.1 So while it may be true that I can't make my own Captain Picard in my story, the owner of Picard's copyright might be able to, even without the trademark.2



Quote

Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:00 PM
Paul & Fred can make something similar to Fwiffo. But they don't own the name Fwiffo.
They never did.
Schism NavigatorLast Monday at 7:01 PM
They could actually just use a different name and use the same lore.
But names are protected under trademarks.

It's not clear from this that the author fully understands Stardock's position regarding F&P's copyrights.

Reading the exhibits to the SAC, it appears to me that Stardock is not particularly concerned that F&P are preparing to invoke the Malcolm X / Innocence of Muslims / Dota 2 line of cases and argue that F&P were the creative force behind Star Control and never intended to share. I am curious to see how Stardock will distinguish SC2...

---

[1] The parties settled on the eve of trial, allowing the fan film to proceed.

[2] Ignoring for now that all of the Human and Syreen captains' names (and at least one Androsynth captain's name) honor similar sci-fi legends.
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