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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 37275 times)
rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #585 on: June 08, 2019, 06:32:55 am »

Anyone wanna place bets about what the terms were, before the terms leak?

Pretty much betting on status quo. Copyrights in SC1 and SC2 safe with P&F. Trademark and original copyrightable elements of SC3 with Stardock. Stardock withdraws all Trademark applications for the SC2 alien names. Stardock doesn't sell the classic games on Steam or GOG.
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tingkagol
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #586 on: June 08, 2019, 06:52:47 am »

Wow. What an uneventful close to this rollercoaster chapter.
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PRH
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #587 on: June 08, 2019, 06:59:28 am »

Anyone wanna place bets about what the terms were, before the terms leak?

Pretty much betting on status quo. Copyrights in SC1 and SC2 safe with P&F. Trademark and original copyrightable elements of SC3 with Stardock. Stardock withdraws all Trademark applications for the SC2 alien names. Stardock doesn't sell the classic games on Steam or GOG.

This is exactly the outcome I'm hoping for. Let's hope that's what it is, and not F&P giving up everything.
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tingkagol
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #588 on: June 08, 2019, 11:09:00 am »

This is exactly the outcome I'm hoping for. Let's hope that's what it is, and not F&P giving up everything.
I'd laugh if that were the case (giving up all copyrights). Not because I think that's what they deserve, but because it's ridiculous.

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PRH
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #589 on: June 08, 2019, 12:12:14 pm »

I'd laugh if that were the case (giving up all copyrights). Not because I think that's what they deserve, but because it's ridiculous.

Yeah, and since Stardock has always presented this as primarily a trademark case, I imagine they'd deny they ever wanted the SC1/SC2 copyrights. However, I wonder what the situation will be with the trademarks to "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Super-Melee", and the SC1/SC2 alien names, and Stardock's attempts to associate the SCO universe with that of SC1/SC2 (since they claimed that their ownership of the Star Control trademark gave them the right to claim that these two universes are part of the same multiverse).
« Last Edit: June 08, 2019, 12:14:25 pm by PRH » Logged
rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #590 on: June 08, 2019, 09:10:17 pm »

I'm sure the parties are going to say SOMETHING. It just might be heavily scripted and edited for confidentiality. The early silence has me thinking that confidentiality was indeed worked into the settlement agreement, and that they're going to both be on a tight script when we finally hear something.

If that's the case, we might never know the details of the settlement. But things to watch for.

  • Which Trademark applications get dropped? Which Trademark oppositions get dropped?
  • Does SCO get edited to reduce the SC2 similarities? Does SCO get edited to add MORE overt SC2 similarities?
  • How do further Star Control / Ur Quan spinoffs get announced by each party?
  • Do the classic games go on sale? Do they go open source? (This is the most likely area where money changes hands. And we might never hear about it.)
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Serosis
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #591 on: June 09, 2019, 03:01:55 am »

  • Do the classic games go on sale? Do they go open source? (This is the most likely area where money changes hands. And we might never hear about it.)

The only one that can be open sourced is already open source.
The code to SC1, SC2 DOS, and SC3 are lost.

Only the SC2 3DO code survived to become The Ur-Quan Masters.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #592 on: June 09, 2019, 04:14:49 am »

And... the Dogar and Kazon blog has just been wiped clean, save for a new post (with a new picture, by the way, which wasn't featured in SC2). The new post is extremely ambiguous, and tells the fans to expect an announcement on E3.

What I can assume so far based on the post is:
- GotP has been canceled, and a new project will be announced in its stead (or GotP has just been renamed).
- Stardock may have got a license to the SC1/SC2 copyrights, and F&P/Frungy may have got a license to the Star Control trademark (or some other trademarks, if they also went to Stardock).

Brad Wardell has also announced a sequel to SCO due in 2020.

In any case, we'll know what exactly all of this means for SC and UQM next week.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 07:27:20 am by PRH » Logged
Death 999
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #593 on: June 09, 2019, 09:51:52 pm »

What I can assume so far based on the post is:
- Stardock may have got a license to the SC1/SC2 copyrights, and F&P/Frungy may have got a license to the Star Control trademark (or some other trademarks, if they also went to Stardock).

You're right to characterize that as an assumption rather than a conclusion since I don't see any support for it.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #594 on: June 10, 2019, 06:20:33 pm »

Note, in the announcement that's left online, they stuck a "TM" to "The Ur-Quan Masters".
I think that is telling, but not knowing whether UQM is not a trademark of Stardock (worst case), or whether F&P acquired the rights to the application to protect the UQM OpenSource project.

There's so much good stuff happening in the world of Star Control.  We can't wait to talk about it next week. People are going to be shocked (in a good way) we think.
Sounds like more messages will be coming.
Announced is another Stardock Star Control game for 2020.
The rest we'll see later, when it gets clearer.
In the reply posts, questions do get asked, one being if the settlement means good things.
Brad Wardell: For everyone. Yes.
Random person: even for Fred and Paul?
Brad's reply: I think so.  The details will start coming out this week so you can decide for yourself.  I am hopeful that people will see this as a win-win.


But the new image not being from the SC universe/boxes/... does little to give me rest.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 06:42:35 pm by Krulle » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #595 on: June 10, 2019, 08:10:20 pm »

Anyone wanna place bets about what the terms were, before the terms leak?

I am normally loath to engage in rank speculation, but I am also too much of a contrarian to let this go. Consider GOG: they had separate counsel from Stardock, a separate contract with R/F, and were not even part of the May 24th stipulation. We have every reason to think that R/F could have settled the case against Stardock but continued litigating against GOG.

Though there might not have been all that much litigating left to do -- the parties had reached the end of fact witness discovery, R/F had survived a motion to dismiss, and there was no indication that a counterclaim (by GOG, against R/F) was forthcoming. Yet R/F let GOG walk away without ever filing a responsive pleading ... why?

My assumption is that either GOG paid R/F to settle their claims; or that someone -- Stardock? a malpractice carrier? -- paid R/F's attorney fees, leaving R/F with no loss for GOG to indemnify.


Pretty much betting on status quo. Copyrights in SC1 and SC2 safe with P&F. Trademark and original copyrightable elements of SC3 with Stardock. Stardock withdraws all Trademark applications for the SC2 alien names. Stardock doesn't sell the classic games on Steam or GOG.

I think that the response given by R/F when approached by Stardock about SCO was very similar to the response given by R/F when they were approached by Accolade about SC4. "No" was meant to be their initial position, not their final answer; R/F were willing to let Stardock use their materials, for the right price. Stardock would have known this had Atari shared the SC4 materials, but alas, Stardock was only purchasing SC3, so SC3 was all that Stardock got. This is an assumption, again, but if Stardock had never seen Addendum No. 3 (regarding SC4) or the emails with GOG (regarding SC2), Stardock's reasonable response to R/F's refusal -- a friendly attempt to delineate the parties' IP rights -- may have been seen by R/F as an attempt by a new publisher to reopen an IP dispute which R/F had already resolved in writing (twice!). (Not that this explains Stardock giving R/F the OK to go ahead with GOTP on 7 Oct 2017, and then complaining that R/F announced GOTP two days later.)

Consider Stardock's position as of May 14th, when these direct settlement negotiations were getting underway. R/F had just prevailed on two contested motions, bringing their overall record to 5-0. Every time there was a close legal issue, R/F came out on top. Since that email was sent, R/F should be feeling much more confident of their legal position.

Putting aside the more fantastical elements of Stardock's complaint -- that R/F were not the creators of SC1 and SC2; that UQM downloads were counterfeits tricking consumers into thinking that they were playing Stardock's game -- what was Stardock accusing R/F of doing wrong at this point? Maybe there had been a "Playmate of the Year"-type argument that the original GOTP Announcement should not have included a copy of the SC2 PC box art, but that would require that we be generous and assume that any liability premised on the Announcement survived Stardock's signal-boosting campaign, and that the parties' course-of-conduct and the box art's ownership/licensing status permitted Stardock to make such a claim. Either way, by May 20th, Stardock had all-but disavowed this line of attack. What was left?

Defensively, Stardock's situation was even worse. A good argument here could have protected SCO from DMCA claims, or gotten some of the "armchair lawyers" off of Stardock's back. Yet, despite countless opportunities both in and out of the courtroom, Stardock never presented any kind of convincing explanation of why it was in the (legal) right. Unless, of course, you agree that my forthcoming, Westeros-based computer game does not need to be licensed, as it could not possibly infringe on the copyright of a book, written on paper in 1996. And that my new Spider-Man comic also does not violate anyone's copyright, as it takes place on Earth-6091, a totally original part of the Spiderverse: you have never met this Peter Parker before.

Further, in attempting to defend SCO from allegations of plagiarism, Stardock copied the author of Sixty Years Later: Coming Through the Rye by suddenly insisting that SCO was not a prequel and by obscuring/removing appropriated character names. Without regard as to how that would have played out in court, this approach risked setting Stardock up for a class-action consumer fraud claim. (Imagine a casual, albeit litigious SC2 fan who read that SCO would be a prequel, saw the Classic characters on Stardock's website, and then purchased a bundle: spending her time and money expecting to return to the fictional reality of SC2, only to discover that she had been tricked.) The best way to avoid the possibility of a second lawsuit and ensure that the SCO framework remains open for future sequels and/or licensed universes? Pay R/F for a license.

Finally, consider the timing. The Electronic Entertainment Expo starts tomorrow. It has been bad enough that Stardock has not been able to promote SCO in interviews without being asked about the lawsuit, now the lawsuit risked interfering with a new crop of games (not to mention Stardock's promotion of unlicensed mods of existing games). A confidential settlement agreement would put an end to that problem. Stardock had expected this lawsuit to be resolved before SCO launched -- now Stardock needed it to be resolved ASAP, at any cost. My assumption is that the code wheel came up KOWTOW: Stardock paid R/F for the rights to use the Classic materials to the extent Stardock has already used them.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #596 on: June 10, 2019, 10:22:27 pm »

A "Patent/Trademark report" is now listed as the latest document on the case's docket on CourtListener, though it's not available for download yet. That document may tell us a lot about the terms of the settlement.

And Stardock has just resumed selling the classic Star Control games on Steam.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 10:25:56 pm by PRH » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #597 on: June 10, 2019, 11:03:14 pm »

Star Control 1 and 2 has popped back up on Steam. Same listing as before, with Stardock as the publisher. Some are taking this as a bad sign, but I think it's more likely they've just hashed out an agreement on P&F's piece of the pie. If this is the case, it's probably helpful, as it reinforces their IP rights (which can become weaker when something is no longer monetized).

Some are speculating that Stardock has gotten the copyright to the old games, but this is certainly not the case, as he clarified his new game is set in the SCO-verse. Meanwhile both of their joint statements clearly spell out Ur Quan Masters as if it's a separate IP, and I think that's the clear implication.

Which means that basically, Stardock wasted 15 months and millions of dollars to end up with exactly the offer he had in hand in March 2018, had he just negotiated in good faith back then. What a waste.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 11:05:47 pm by Frogacuda » Logged
rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #598 on: June 11, 2019, 01:24:10 am »

I'm really not sure at this point. I really doubt that Stardock would let the terms of the settlement go public unless it was a win for them. Which likely means they've now seized some of the SC2 aliens for their game, gained some kind of financial interest in P&F's new game, or both.
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Elestan
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #599 on: June 11, 2019, 03:14:18 am »

I think that the response given by R/F when approached by Stardock about SCO was very similar to the response given by R/F when they were approached by Accolade about SC4. "No" was meant to be their initial position, not their final answer; R/F were willing to let Stardock use their materials, for the right price.

I am skeptical of this.  Paul's emails to Brad (ca. Sep. 2013) do not suggest to me that he is inviting an offer; they seem like flat refusals, full-stop:

Quote from: PaulReiche
Fred and I are just not comfortable handing over our world to be developed by others.  We’ve been discussing this for almost 20 years and we’ve always regarded a return to Star Control as our dream project – something we’d work on as soon as we found the opportunity.  I know this will be a disappointment for you and your team, but Fred and I still have a Star Control plan and we’re not ready to give it up yet.

It's worth noting that at the time the SC4 contract was signed, the sales term of the original (exclusive) 1988 contract was still active (per P&F's countercomplaint, the royalties did not drop below the $1000 trigger point until years later).  Consequently, Accolade had a much stronger negotiating position than Atari would a decade or more later, after that agreement had expired.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 03:51:30 am by Elestan » Logged
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