Sequels strife

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Mormont
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Mormont » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:17 am

Eth wrote:Stardock’s claim, that the Star Control trademark has fame and respect accrued to it, is absurd. We all saw the release of Star Control 3. It was obvious where StarCon was going. I am not a Star Control fan; I’m a fan of Paul and Fred’s games. I played the hell out of Archon The Unholy War, and Skylanders. Of course there were collaborators on Star Control II. That doesn‘t mean that Paul and Fred aren’t the primary authors of that game.

This lawsuit has likely doomed SC Origins one way or another. Either Stardock will lose the rights to the SC trademark, or they will have torpedoed the chances fans had for the Paul and Fred authored SC2 sequel the fans have wanted for the last 25 years, incurring those fans’ wrath.
Well, there's a good chance it'll settle, though certainly is still very bad PR for Stardock. I agree Stardock's case is absurd but the trademark expiring seems to be one of F&P's weaker points (NAL), so that would probably be one item dropped in a settlement. I would guess Stardock keeps the trademark but F&P get some fair use allowance.

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Draxas
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Draxas » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:59 am

This still feels like it's all about money to me. While the whole "goodwill and fame" thing definitely seems to point to the amount of hype Ghosts generated here in our little community with just a nebulous announcement, the amount of claims and the demands for damages (treble damages is no joke if awarded, and would easily wipe out any entity not a corporation. With Paul and Fred being named as individual defendants rather than TFB, it means they are the targets, not their company) are mostly pointing to the ongoing dispute over who is getting paid from SC1 and 2. The problem is the repurcussions if Stardock wins this suit (ignoring how much merit their claims have), because that would make them sole owners of all of the Star Control IP. If that should happen, I guarantee that within days anyone and any projects associated with UQM will rapidly be receiving Cease and Desist orders, because those threaten the validity of Stardock's new copyrights.

Regardless of anything else, though, I think Eth is definitely right about what this is going to do to SCO (if they can even call it that once this suit is done). Win or lose, SCO is either going to undergo some fairly dramatic changes or get outright scrapped in the aftermath. Seems to me like Stardock had way more to lose here, but maybe that GOG money was worth scuttling their new game over. ::)-smf

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vok3
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:15 pm

Draxas wrote: With Paul and Fred being named as individual defendants rather than TFB, it means they are the targets, not their company)
TFB is not involved in Ghosts - Paul Reiche & Fred Ford have said so themselves. So this is entirely logical.
Win or lose, SCO is either going to undergo some fairly dramatic changes or get outright scrapped in the aftermath.
There's zero evidence for that. We're talking about a 25-year-old singleton hit (I love SC1 but I can admit it wasn't nearly the same level of success). That's minimal market effect on a new game now. SCO will get reviewed and discussed and word-of-mouthed (good or bad) mostly the same as any game would be; the SC2-specific market just isn't big enough to affect that (we could wish otherwise but 25 years with no real sequel speaks for itself), and the issues at play legally here explicitly exclude everything that Stardock has done with SCO - they made a point of leaving out all the SC2 IP anyway.

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Death 999
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Death 999 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:06 pm

I think the point was, it would either have to stop being Star Control, or they would suddenly get access to all the races in SC3.

But there's no reason the courts have to go all one way or the other. I pretty much expect this monetary bonfire to result in a vaguely sensible outcome other than the whole monetary bonfire part.

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Draxas
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Draxas » Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:16 am

Not just SC3, this suit is trying to declare all of the Star Control IP as property of Accolade, and by extension, Stardock after the twisting maze of acquisitions and sales. That's what the claims of Fred and Paul not being the actual creators of the games are all about. If the court agrees, every bit of the collective SC lore, all of the races and ships, they are all suddenly available to Stardock to use at their sole discretion.

As for the point that SC is just not that popular a series, well, yeah! It just isn't, and as much as we love it it's hard to deny. Not that many people remember either game outside of the little corner of the internet represented by this site and UQMF. That says something about the validity of the claims of "fame and goodwill" being put forth in this suit, but that is neither here nor there. The point really is that SCO will either become an "actual" SC game if Stardock wins, as the IP now belongs to them and them alone (and they would be fools not to utilize that), or it will cease to be a Star Control game even in name only, as the trademark and any other claims Stardock had will have been lost. I don't know how much bad press and/or brand damage it would take to get the game axed, but I assume there was some point financially in trying to associate it with SC in the first place rather than just making a new IP from whole cloth. I am forced to assume it was us (meaning the entirety of the SC fanbase, meager though it may be), though that seems like not nearly enough to matter. So why go to these lengths at all? There must be some part of the picture we can't see, and probably never will.

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:44 am

The name simply is easy, short, and catchy.
Difficult to create names like thatnow, where a lot of names are simply blocked by TM owners....


Star Wars, Star Control... both names implicit wars in space (between stars).
Most other names I can think of do not imply military, and wars....

you'd got to use space, like space navy, space wats, space fight,



Otherwise I can agree with your analysis.

From the mail exchange attached to the court papers, Stardock allegedly payed between 300k and 400k for the stuff they bought.
The IP they bought ain't worth much, the copyright to SC3neither, the old distribution rights for SC and SC2 neither, the GOG contract neither.

So, it's marketing. Being the real successor to the SC2 game, which features is all list of "most favourite classics".
And now FF and PR3 'pissed' on that marketing, by announcing the "real sequel" tothe Ur-Quan Masters.
Man, am I happy they announced it as UQM sequel, not as SC2 sequel..... (or they changed the post).

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Rhonin » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:46 pm

krulle wrote:Man, am I happy they announced it as UQM sequel, not as SC2 sequel..... (or they changed the post).
Actually they did, look at exhibit H in Stardock's complaint, it's the original post of the announcement for Ghosts.

And then there's this.
We have a follow-up to the news that a Star Control game called Ghosts of the Precursors is being developed by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, aka Toys for Bob. Because Stardock owns the current rights to the series and is developing a new installment, we took the description of this as a "passion project" from the developers of the first two Star Control games to mean it is not an official installment in the series. It turns out that's not correct, as they say their newly revealed game is a direct sequel to Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters. Here's the statement of Fred and Bob, which raises some questions of its own, but sets the record straight:

"We have never had a business relationship with Stardock and are creating independently a direct sequel to our 1992 game, Star Control® II -- The Ur-Quan Masters. We are doing this outside of Toys for Bob (per the Gamasutra article) as a passion project."

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:34 pm

Dang. I missed that detail (and I did not go backto the printouts before I posted).

Yes, in that case, IMHO, they've been linking themselves to the goodwill hanging on the brand name Star Control. Even if they created all the goodwill attached to the TM.

I'll see how it plays out. Origins does not have any of the goodwill. Actually, after the desaster of ICOM/ Kessari-Quadrant, non-same-programmer-sequels actually have a negative goodwill for me.
(not as if I wouldn't buy other sequls. I'm simply interested to see how others would continue the story.)


This post is very opinion heavy. And it is solely mine. Any findings in this post are the result of my personal decision, and may actually not be a valid finding after all. I simply do not have the complete picture, and therefore may have come to a faulty conclusion.

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:38 pm

Draxas wrote:SCO ... will cease to be a Star Control game even in name only,
Was it ever?

What defines Star Control? The obvious answer is, the Ur-Quan Hierarchy and the Free Stars with all the bright-colored spaceships and distinctive alien characters. An alternative answer would be a setting that FEELS like the Ur-Quan Hierarchy and the Free Stars, with bright-colored spaceships and distinctive alien characters. SC2 fans always wanted the first. SCO was never going to be that.
I assume there was some point financially in trying to associate it with SC in the first place rather than just making a new IP from whole cloth.
This is a good point and one thing that has never been clear to me about Stardock's decision to make the purchase. Obviously the real value is in tying any further work directly in with the Ur-Quan, and Stardock has said from the start they're not doing that. One could conclude they think there is enough value in the Star Control style, separate from the Ur-Quan setting specifically, to make it worth an effort. I wouldn't rule out that they're correct.

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Mormont
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Mormont » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:55 pm

Not a lawyer, but saying it's a sequel to a game they made, fully own the IP for, and have long been closely associated with in the public eye seems defensible as fair use. (The analogy some have given on Disney getting mad if Lucas tried to make a sequel to Star Wars, by the way, is flawed because Disney owns much more than the trademark - Lucas's ownership of the IP now is limited at most). Stardock's argument that they didn't "create" SC2 looks like an attempt to delegitimize any such defense by dissociating them from it as much as possible.
The point really is that SCO will either become an "actual" SC game if Stardock wins, as the IP now belongs to them and them alone (and they would be fools not to utilize that), or it will cease to be a Star Control game even in name only, as the trademark and any other claims Stardock had will have been lost.
This is assuming the ruling will go all-or-nothing one way or the other. It is more likely a settlement will be reached. Here's a guess how it might pan out:
  • Stardock has the trademark.
  • Fred and Paul can use the trademark, but within some sort of lawyerly limitations - like maybe they can say Ghosts is a sequel to Star Control 2 but can't directly associate Ghosts or themselves with "Star Control" as a whole and have to always note who owns the trademark.
  • F&P have copyright and distribution rights to SC1/2 and exclusive rights to everything within the games. Possibly they make SC1 freeware as they hinted in the past. Stardock has no license.
  • Stardock has to remove some images or names resembling material in SC1/2 from Origins, but perhaps gets to claim others as homage.
  • Stardock has distribution rights to SC3 but need a license on Reiche's material within the game to sell it; perhaps the settlement gives them one with no royalty or a minor token one.
  • Stardock gets publishing rights to the acclaimed "Interbellum" Star Control novel. Reiche and Ford are required to write a cover blurb for it.
  • Both sides agree not to speak ill of each other in the future.
(One of those is a joke.)
I assume there was some point financially in trying to associate it with SC in the first place rather than just making a new IP from whole cloth.
By Reiche and Ford's account, Wardell repeatedly begged them for years to get a license to their universe even after Origins' development started and may have even demanded use of their ships based on an interpretation of the 1988 contract. Also by their version of things, Wardell first mentioned suing before Ghosts was even officially announced. Likely they have e-mails to back this up.
Last edited by Mormont on Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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