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

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Serosis
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #600 on: June 11, 2019, 07:30:25 am »

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.

Interesting bit to note is that the games went back up without the UQM subtitle.

Pure speculation here:
Mayhaps the TM changed hands because P&F use the the UQM trademark on their blog post but yet is removed from the Stardock distributed SC1+2 bundle.

Archive Link: https://web.archive.org/web/20180303064522/http://store.steampowered.com/app/358920/Star_Control_The_UrQuan_Masters/
Current Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/358920/

D&K Blog Post: https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2019/6/8/unexpected-message-from-space

Archive link thanks to Elestan over on the Discord server.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #601 on: June 11, 2019, 09:36:51 am »

Sounds like the Star Control trademark remains with Stardock, but the UQM trademark application changes hands to F&P and the UQM Open Source project.
The other trademark applications will likely be pulled/stopped/withdrawn.

I wonder how much the attorneys can bill now. (And to whom.) But likely I'll never get to know the answer.

But I am happy, that the worst of this mess seems to be over, and that now both sides can focus on their respective projects and get going.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #602 on: June 11, 2019, 01:44:11 pm »

Sounds like the Star Control trademark remains with Stardock, but the UQM trademark application changes hands to F&P and the UQM Open Source project.
The other trademark applications will likely be pulled/stopped/withdrawn.

The Frungy and Frungy Games marks went to F&P, we already know that much.

I wonder how much the attorneys can bill now. (And to whom.) But likely I'll never get to know the answer.

The judge's final order said that all parties pay their own attorney fees, unless specified otherwise in the settlement agreement (and, according to Brad, the settlement terms are going to go public very soon).
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #603 on: June 11, 2019, 04:58:44 pm »

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.

I agree -- as such, things are not looking great for my bet here. However, as Stardock has long held that R/F has no copyright interests whatsoever in SC1, SC2 and SC3, that the settlement should affect those games' availability at all is a concession to R/F.


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.

Just to be clear, my wager is on the former. Stardock would have little incentive to settle in a way which would leave it open to another lawsuit, so I suspect that Stardock's past sales of the Classic games (and the purportedly derivative SCO, for that matter) have been legitimized and Stardock's use of R/F's characters -- including, without limitation, the Ur-Quan, the Orz, the Yehat, the Spathi, the Syreen, the Arilou Lalee'lay, the Chenjesu, the Melnorme (f/k/a Mael-Num), the Precursors, Commander Hayes, and the Earthling Cruiser -- and other IP has been retroactively licensed by R/F.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #604 on: June 11, 2019, 05:10:08 pm »

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.

I appreciate your point; I saw it as a difference in style rather than in substance, but you may well be correct.

Quote from: PaulReiche
"[W]e think it[']s a better idea for [Accolade] to move on to an entirely new fiction and style of game, either under the trademark Star Control or an entirely new line. Personally, Fred and I would prefer the latter, but it's entirely up to you, and your team.

Such a split would benefit Fred and myself, because we believe that over the long haul the Star Control universe has value significantly in excess of what you can offer us, and some day we'd like to explore those opportunities. By accepting your proposed deal, we would lose this chance forever.

Thank you, George [MacDonald, Senior Producer at Accolade], for your ongoing support of Star Control, and please express our thanks to the SC4 team as well. I hope that the new vistas which open up in the absence of the SC universe represent to your team an exciting challenge and creative opportunity, and not a bummer.

It took less than a month for the parties to agree on a framework which became Addendum No. 3.


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.

From what I recall, a large component of Accolade's strength in the 1997-98 negotiations was that SC3 had performed so poorly -- despite a decidedly more Solomonic approach than that of Stardock, Accolade simply couldn't justify paying R/F what the two thought Star Control was worth (either for a license, or for the copyrights themselves). The end result was that Addendum No. 3 gave R/F less cash, but more rights to the underlying IP.

The real question: will we see Ra-Gar in a future game? And, if so, whose??
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #605 on: June 11, 2019, 08:20:54 pm »

Keeping in mind we're about to find out very very soon... I'll speculate just for the sake of the entertaining discussion.

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.

Just to be clear, my wager is on the former. Stardock would have little incentive to settle in a way which would leave it open to another lawsuit, so I suspect that Stardock's past sales of the Classic games (and the purportedly derivative SCO, for that matter) have been legitimized and Stardock's use of R/F's characters -- including, without limitation, the Ur-Quan, the Orz, the Yehat, the Spathi, the Syreen, the Arilou Lalee'lay, the Chenjesu, the Melnorme (f/k/a Mael-Num), the Precursors, Commander Hayes, and the Earthling Cruiser -- and other IP has been retroactively licensed by R/F.

This is my bet too. I imagine the negotiations going something like this:


Paul and Fred want all the SC2 similarities gone from Stardock's games. That Stardock is in the legal wrong.

Brad says that there are no SC2 similarities. That it's a matter of interpretation. That P&F are in the legal wrong.

Paul and Fred say their main goal is to protect their universe, so that they can have control over their own story.

Brad says his goal is the same. He doesn't want any more DMCA threats over Star Control: Origins.

Paul and Fred say they can't promise that, because they don't know what Stardock is going to add.

Brad says he doesn't need to overtly add the Orz or the Ur Quan. But that precursors/observers/etc. are fair game. And it's too late to remove them now.

Paul and Fred begrudgingly accept the similarities to SC2's hyperspace, let alone precursors, the melnorme, and the arilou. Need assurances it stops there.

Brad agrees to go (barely) much further with SCO's similarities to SC2, as long as P&F don't sue for existing similarities.

Paul and Fred agree not to sue, if Stardock can stand by their promise, and allow P&F to review Stardock's game and DLC to make sure they keep their word.

Brad says that effectively means that P&F will give SC:O their seal of approval, and are effectively consultants on the project.

Paul and Fred shuffle around uncomfortably. But have no other substantial objections.

And that creates the license: Stardock pays P&F a small licensing fee. Stardock can include precursors, observers, and info-brokers, and other superficial similarities between aliens and lore (Rainbow Worlds, Tzo Crystals, dimensions "above" and "below", SC2-style hyperspace, Commander Hayes, etc.).

Stardock throws Paul and Fred in the credits for SCO, and pushes it to every media outlet that will mention it.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 08:23:07 pm by rosepatel » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #606 on: June 11, 2019, 10:20:22 pm »

Another interesting thing I just happened upon is that "Star Control I & II" on the Steam page is no longer part of the "Star Control Franchise" grouping.
Star Control 3 still is and has also dropped the "Kessari Quadrant" subtitle.

You can see it on their store pages, the breadcrumb links just above the screenshots:

SC1&2: https://store.steampowered.com/app/358920/Star_Control_I__II/
SC3: https://store.steampowered.com/app/358930/Star_Control_III/

Maybe it's something, maybe it isn't.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #607 on: June 12, 2019, 02:07:41 am »

Ars Technica has details on the settlement: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/06/stardock-and-star-control-creators-settle-lawsuits-with-mead-and-honey/
And Paul and Fred comments on the process and settlement: https://www.dogarandkazon.com/blog/2019/6/11/the-only-way-to-win-is

Paul bypassed the lawyers and started off by talking to Brad about bees and mead. (As a part of the settlement, Brad must provide honey to Paul, who in turn will make it into mead and provide mead to Brad.)

No money changing hands. All the trademark disputes, creator disputes, copyright disputes, etc, are dropped. The SCO universe will continue as the Star Control franchise, while the P & F games will be in the Ur-Quan Masters franchise. Origins will continue, and Paul will contribute some writing to a future game (he says he'll create some alien races for Stardock). Ghosts of the Precursors will be developed but under another name. Stardock can continue to sell the SC games and will split royalties equally with P & F. (This agreement appears to include SC 3, which is a bit of a concession to P & F if one assumes anyone ever purchases it again.) Valve and GOG portions of the suit are settled, too.

This forum might like this paragraph from the Dogar and Kazon site:
Quote
Stardock, and Brad in particular, is supportive of Paul and Fred owning the Ur-Quan Masters trademark.  All of us are committed to support the current UQM team and project, including their having a free, perpetual right to use the Ur-Quan Masters trademark for their amazing fan-powered recreation of the original game.

Paul also says he played SCO for 50 hours and enjoyed it. I am guessing this endorsement was not required by the settlement. Paul seems like a wonderful human being.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #608 on: June 12, 2019, 02:17:32 am »

P&F have posted a summary of the settlement terms

Key highlights include:

* Stardock will create new games in the Star Control franchise.  
* Paul & Fred will create new games in the Ur-Quan Masters franchise.  
* To help differentiate the two franchises Paul volunteered to create a few new alien races for Origins.
* Brad offered to help Fred and Paul with technology.
* Both sides recognize each other’s copyrights and will not challenge them in the future.
* Stardock is dropping all trademark registration of the alien names and won't use the described aliens without permission from Paul & Fred.
* Star Control, Star Control II, and Star Control III will be coming back for sale by Stardock so that fans of all ages can enjoy the classic games in their original form.  Paul and Fred will split royalties equally with Stardock.
* Both sides will support the current UQM team and project.
* Stardock accepts that Paul & Fred are the creators of Star Control and Star Control II.
* Paul and Fred will be changing the name "Ghosts of the Precursors" to something "a little less generic".
* A significant exchange of honey and mead.

All in all, this looks pretty good.  Technically, the UQM core team could have a stronger claim to the UQM trademark than P&F have, but Serge indicated a while ago that he was willing to subordinate his claim to Paul's, and I think we can trust Paul not to get litigious with it.  :-)  Between that and the race trademarks being dropped, UQM and its clones should be safe from attack.  P&F's universe is exclusively theirs, and renaming GotP at this point is a fairly minor concession.

One thing not mentioned is the status of the1988 agreement; it would be good to know if Stardock conceded that it was terminated.  It would also be nice to confirm that there wasn't any licensing of Stardock's trademarks.  It doesn't sound like there was, but any such licensing by P&F could set a precedent that could impact UQM.

"Brad offered to help F&P with technology" is an interesting item.  That Brad would like to see the original aliens brought to the SC:O engine is no surprise (he's wanted that from the beginning), but I have to wonder if P&F want to risk mingling their IP with Stardock's.  Their newfound rapport is great, but it might be tempting fate.

In any case, congratulations to the parties for finally settling the dispute; hopefully we'll start seeing and talking a lot more about games, and a lot less about lawsuits.  I suppose I may have to demonstrate that I'm still capable of talking about the latter.

When all is said and done, Stardock appears to be coming out of the litigation with a few custom races from Paul and some mead.  I suspect this will go down as some of the most expensive mead in the history of the computer game industry.

EDIT: Two other clauses are mentioned in the ArsTechnica article:
* "there are a few caveats around the Arilou" - It sounds like Paul agreed to let Brad have the Arilou in SC:O.
* "The agreement also includes some stipulation that Ford & Reiche go into a quiet period for a while"

I'm not thrilled by these - especially the idea that P&F might not be able to speak freely.  But if it only pertains to announcements about their game, and is for a limited time, I'm not overly concerned.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 05:09:18 am by Elestan » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #609 on: June 12, 2019, 04:17:17 am »

It is clear that Paul is the real hero in this. Brad Wardell is mentally ill and not going to accept any scenario that he feels is a defeat or a concession. Paul realized this and gave Brad the necessary encouragement and pretense of friendship and flattery that he needed to extricate himself from the mess he created while still framing it as a "win."

In reality, of course, this is only a win for the lawyers. The settlement does not seem substantially different from the March 2018 settlement offer (with a couple of frivolous niceties thrown in), which itself doesn't seem all that different than the defacto understanding before any of this began.

So essentially Brad cost himself and his victims millions of dollars and wasted years of everyone's time that could have gone into making bigger, better games, because he refused to negotiate in good faith. But now he's running victory laps because Paul said he likes his game and his bees are cool.

Much respect for Paul for getting that done.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #610 on: June 12, 2019, 05:44:00 am »

Well, it ended like it began, a bit absurd, a bit sad, and with way too much effort from the people that did the least wrong.

Maybe we'll get some commemorative mead bottlings out of it though. I'd probably put in for a Fragrant Frungy Private Label.

One thing not mentioned is the status of the1988 agreement; it would be good to know if Stardock conceded that it was terminated.  

That's probably moot if the settlement really prevents everyone from ever re-litigating this as I can't imagine what other party would have a standing to argue about it at this point. But at least for me, seeing firm answers to some of the more bizarre legal questions would have been enlightening.

So essentially Brad cost himself and his victims millions of dollars and wasted years of everyone's time that could have gone into making bigger, better games, because he refused to negotiate in good faith. But now he's running victory laps because Paul said he likes his game and his bees are cool.

Worth noting for the next time you're dealing with your Flat Earther second-uncle-not-far-enough-removed. You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 05:46:45 am by orzophile » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #611 on: June 12, 2019, 06:14:23 am »

Paul and Fred agree not to sue, if Stardock can stand by their promise, and allow P&F to review Stardock's game and DLC to make sure they keep their word.

Brad says that effectively means that P&F will give SC:O their seal of approval, and are effectively consultants on the project.

Paul and Fred shuffle around uncomfortably. But have no other substantial objections.

And that creates the license: Stardock pays P&F a small licensing fee. Stardock can include precursors, observers, and info-brokers, and other superficial similarities between aliens and lore (Rainbow Worlds, Tzo Crystals, dimensions "above" and "below", SC2-style hyperspace, Commander Hayes, etc.).

Stardock throws Paul and Fred in the credits for SCO, and pushes it to every media outlet that will mention it.[/i]

Just quoting myself here and giving myself a pat on the back, and also pointing out the second last statement where I missed the real solutoin. It doesn't seem that Stardock gets some SC2 races. It seems Stardock, instead, gets Paul to fully consult on the creation of new races.

Stardock begged Paul and Fred to work with stardock for years, then sued P&F, until P&F offered to work with Stardock. It's a pretty shitty tactic that it succeeded.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #612 on: June 12, 2019, 08:01:55 am »

One thing not mentioned is the status of the1988 agreement; it would be good to know if Stardock conceded that it was terminated.  It would also be nice to confirm that there wasn't any licensing of Stardock's trademarks.  It doesn't sound like there was, but any such licensing by P&F could set a precedent that could impact UQM.

Although it's not explicitly mentioned, the settlement terms make it pretty clear that the 1988 agreement is dead and buried. For one, it is clearly spelled out that Stardock won't be using any classic aliens in its games without permission from F&P. If the 1988 agreement was still active, Stardock would need no such permission. And the new agreement between F&P and Stardock to sell the classic games sounds very much like the 2011 Reiche-GOG-Atari agreement.

As for the trademarks, what is there for Stardock to license to F&P? F&P already have the UQM and Frungy trademarks, and Stardock has dropped all trademark applications for the classic alien names. The Star Control and UQM franchises are now officially confirmed to go their separate ways.

I'm personally a little bit disappointed that SC1 and SC3 have gone commercial again rather than open-source, and that F&P have agreed not to talk about he UQM sequel for a while to make room for Stardock's announcements, but other than that, I'm very happy with the outcome. It's only too bad that it took so long for them (especially Stardock) to agree to those terms.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #613 on: June 12, 2019, 08:39:19 am »

As for the trademarks, what is there for Stardock to license to F&P? F&P already have the UQM and Frungy trademarks, and Stardock has dropped all trademark applications for the classic alien names. The Star Control and UQM franchises are now officially confirmed to go their separate ways.

Brad had, at times, argued the position that anything that could cause consumer confusion - such as sharing a universe with the prior Star Control games - required licensing the Star Control trademark.  That seemed too expansive an interpretation to me, and I doubted it would hold up if tested, but it would be nice to see it properly buried.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #614 on: June 12, 2019, 08:55:53 am »

I'm personally a little bit disappointed that SC1 and SC3 have gone commercial again rather than open-source.

The source code for those two don't exist anymore, well, at least for SC1.
Brad says he still hasn't been able to find the source code for SC3 and it's looking like it also may have been lost.
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