Sequels strife

Ahh, vague omens and mysterious portents. Tangled webs of fate intertwined with the branches of destiny, blown by the capricious winds of happenstance. News, news....uh, actually there is some news!

Moderator: ZFP Peacekeepers

User avatar
Maloo Oture
Ilwrath torturer
Posts: 460
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:21 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Maloo Oture » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:46 pm

Wardell,

I know you peruse these forums. I can't speak for anyone else, but by making this about anything other than the fans, you have lost me as a potential buyer of your games. I am wholly disappointed in the way this has panned out and as a true fan of many years, I hope that means something.

User avatar
Alvarin
ZFP Peacekeeper
Posts: 2042
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:12 am
Location: Israel

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Alvarin » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:10 pm

To be angry is to punish yourself for the errors of others.

krulle
Ilwrath spawn
Posts: 392
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:10 pm

Inserting sources is a bit of a hassleon this device.
So please excuse the lack in most cases....

[url=https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred]Q&A regarding SC and PR and FF[/url], Stardock forums wrote: Q: What are the issues in dispute?

A: Paul and Fred have been promoting their new game, Ghosts of the Precursors as an official sequel to Star Control. This creates confusion in the market as to the origin of Star Control games which is why we have trademark laws.

In retaliation, Paul and Fred began objecting to the sale of the DOS games being sold online, despite the fact that they’ve been for sale online since before we acquired Star Control from Atari. Their contention is that the licensing agreement for their characters and lore has expired thus terminating the right to sell and distribute the old DOS games.
They objected to the distribution on Steam, which had been initiated by Stardock without permission from FF and PR.
Source=https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/b ... e-how-come
They only objected to GoG afterwards, becuase that way GoG would have to terminate the Stardock agreement as well, thus the games would not be for sale anywhere.

My take: usual steps. Someone starts redistributing your work? You make damned sure you get payed, and they get to know you know that they seem to be cheating you.
I've only seen Stardocks assertion that Ff and PR get royalities. With GoG they did get it directly from GoG. With steam that would not have happened. All the money would've gone through Stardock.

Also, having all distribution paths down helps in finding one new contract valid for all paths.

Also, FF and PR always used the terminology "direct sequel", instead of "official sequel".
Minor difference in wording, but with quite some content difference...
source: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/b ... h-fighters
I'll leave the interpretation of the meaning of the differnce up to judges. Beacause it may depend from case to case...

[url=https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred]Q&A regarding SC and PR and FF[/url], Stardock forums wrote:Q: Why did Stardock file the initial lawsuit against Paul and Fred?

A: We had no choice after Paul and Fred filed DMCA claims against the distribution not only of Star Control 1 and 2 but also Star Control 3 which they admit they had no involvement. The DMCA claims were reversed, but it was clear that our ability to create more experiences in the Star Control multiverse for fans would be at risk if their false claims remained unchallenged.
[url=https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred]Q&A regarding SC and PR and FF[/url], Stardock forums wrote: Q: Why did Stardock go after Paul and Fred when it seems you had a friendly relationship to start?

A: We didn’t “go after” Paul and Fred - we were left with no choice once they filed false DMCA claims against the Star Control games, even the one they admit they had nothing to do with. We had been trying for months to work out an amicable co-existence agreement.
Well, if the games are sold in a package, you take the whole package down when you file DMCA notices against a part of it...

[url=https://forums.starcontrol.com/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred]Q&A regarding SC and PR and FF[/url], Stardock forums wrote:Q: Why is this happening now? [UPDATE]

A: We don't know. The order of events is as follows:
[...]
16. Stardock's attorneys file a suit against Paul and Fred for trademark infringement and other causes of action. (December)
17. Paul and Fred's attorney requests multiple time extensions to respond, use that time to secretly do press interviews, hire a PR firm. (2018)
18. Paul and Fred's attorney files a lawsuit against Stardock alleging copyright infringement and other causes of action. (Feburary).
19. Paul and Fred's PR firm releases a press release to the wire services accusing Stardock's CEO, Brad Wardell, of copyright theft despite not being a party to the suit.
Point 17 is entirely unproven, and 3months to reply including the Christmas perios, does seem rather usual and not excessive, IMHO...
And a CEO of a company suing someone is, IMHO, always directly a party. Nothing in that company can be done without at least implicit approval of the CEO.

Point 17 was what really upset me in this list...


Anyway, so far mainly a public listing of what happened, but does not help the case of Stardock, IMHO.


BTW, if FF and PR are not the copyright holders, but each contributing member is, I want to se Stardocks permissions from all the other Copyright creators that they agree to a new redistribution by Stardock.
And while it may have been unhandy by Reiche and Ford to not have objected to the content of the mail in exhibit E, 16 October 2013, it is not implicit that a lack of objection leads to agreement with the content of the mail. This seems like a push of the boundary too. A defense along the lines of "But we honestly thought we alone had the right to, and would not need anybodies permission to do so. We even said so to the other party, and they did implicitly agree!".
The way I read it, having the hindsight knowledge of the complaint, it feels to me like a set up step by step.I became much more wary of Stardock through the complaint and the exhibits.

And Stardock "documenting" the creation of StarControl, while not having been involved back then, and likely not having much more than the licensing agreement between Atari and FF/PR is... interesting..... They do not know the agreements between the "designers" and the content creators" (graphic artists, musicians)....
I'm pretty sure FF, PR are trying to collect some feedback from back then..

User avatar
vok3
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:16 pm

krulle wrote:Point 17 is entirely unproven, and 3months to reply including the Christmas perios, does seem rather usual and not excessive, IMHO...
Stardock has been pretty careful about only making statements they can back up with evidence in this whole thing. Every single time there's been something I thought was questionable, it has turned out there was evidence backing them up. As for the 3 months to reply, I happen to be aware of a specific counterexample illustrating that it is indeed unusual - Crytek filed suit against Cloud Imperium (Chris Roberts & Star Citizen) in mid-December; very similar timeframe. CIG had a deadline of I think 21 days to file a motion to dismiss, which they did; Crytek then filed a response to the MtD. The hearing on the MtD was scheduled for early February; the judge decided that oral arguments weren't going to be necessary and there was enough evidence to make a decision (very likely meaning the MtD gets denied and the case proceeds to discovery or settlement). I believe the Star Control dispute is also in federal court, so it should be following the same type of schedule - except it hasn't been.
And a CEO of a company suing someone is, IMHO, always directly a party.
Your HO means diddly squat in a court of law.
Anyway, so far mainly a public listing of what happened, but does not help the case of Stardock, IMHO.
On the contrary. It lays out the very extensive time period during which Stardock has been communicating its understanding of its rights and intentions to Paul Reiche & Fred Ford and that Paul Reiche & Fred Ford have failed over the majority of that time to object to anything Stardock has been doing. That alone is going to make Stardock's case easier; it's a long standing principle of law that acting as though you don't have a right when you have plenty of opportunity to assert it tends to mean you've renounced any claim to it.
BTW, if FF and PR are not the copyright holders, but each contributing member is, I want to se Stardocks permissions from all the other Copyright creators that they agree to a new redistribution by Stardock.
You really should understand Stardock's argument before you start criticizing it. Stardock's claim is that part of what they purchased from Atari is a license that already covers all that.

I don't really understand why Stardock feels it is important to claim that Paul Reiche and Fred Ford are not legally the creators of Star Control, but I am not a lawyer. In terms of plain everyday conversation, I think it's fairly clear they are, but the legal implications and requirements seem to be different.
And while it may have been unhandy by Reiche and Ford to not have objected to the content of the mail in exhibit E, 16 October 2013, it is not implicit that a lack of objection leads to agreement with the content of the mail.
On the contrary, that is exactly what it implies to a court. Whether courts SHOULD draw that conclusion is a separate question; the fact is they do. You really should be careful about forming opinions on this sort of thing if those opinions are going to be exactly contrary to what actually happens.

krulle
Ilwrath spawn
Posts: 392
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:45 pm

I also do not live under anglo-saxon court jurisprudence.

I know for certain, that in my home countries this is not the case, especially if the "talk" is as informal as that mail exchange (using only first names, and very short letters). I know I wouldhave wanted to reply, but then I am in a case myself, and I know I did not reply every single time to all details, because of life and work.
I did not have the time or energy to react.

It did not matter, all "implcits" the other party derived from that got squashed...
Clearly.

But if it had been a fifty-fifty case, it may have become a deciding factor.


edit found this (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?top ... 4#msg71104) post on the UQM forums, establishing that Raiche does have some licensing agreement for SC3.
The discussions also include very clear statements that Stardock does not own any content of SC2 in any form, and a short reasoning why FF and PR did not compete for the brand name.
Last edited by krulle on Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
vok3
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:06 pm

I'd never claim anglo-saxon courts are entirely sensible. I'm just saying, this is how they work.

I also don't think a court would expect someone to repeatedly object to any and all little details. But the court would be looking for someone to say at least once - preferably fairly early on, once the other party's pattern of behavior became clear: "Hey, just so you know, you aren't actually allowed to do that. We still retain rights X, Y, and Z, as you'll see if you check contract M." That's what Paul Reiche and Fred Ford didn't do for nearly five years.

I'd really like to know why they didn't. I think they could have made a case - just by supplying the contract stuff included in their own lawsuit, if they had sent that over to Stardock back in 2013-2014 with a comment "by the way, our understanding based on these documents is such and so, can we get you to agree on that?" - it would have been way easier to work something out.

I hope they still can.

krulle
Ilwrath spawn
Posts: 392
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:15 pm

If the contract is clear (which Stardock always pointed out to NOT being), the discussion will be over before anyone can point to these mails.

But the complete discussion entails more than just this IP topic.

It's a pity the publication I saw of FF and PR counterclaim did not include the original and amendments...
MaybeI'll ever get to see that, but then this is basically core business stuff, hence confidential.

In total, I will still wait for the outcome, and will still not be able to solve the issues.


BTW:
[url=http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=5463.msg71121#msg71121]Frogboy (Stardock) on UQM forums[/url], 24 July 2013 wrote:Hi guys!

Brad from Stardock here.

We have connected with Paul and Fred. Fingers crossed but things look hopeful. The copyright to Star Control 1/2 is owned by Paul Rieche [sic] directly, not Toys for Bob so I think there is reason to think that they might be able to participate in the creation of a new Star Control game.
They knew and acknowledged that all some crucial copyright is with Paul Reiche directly.
Last edited by krulle on Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mormont
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:44 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Mormont » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:05 pm

On the contrary. It lays out the very extensive time period during which Stardock has been communicating its understanding of its rights and intentions to Paul Reiche & Fred Ford and that Paul Reiche & Fred Ford have failed over the majority of that time to object to anything Stardock has been doing. That alone is going to make Stardock's case easier; it's a long standing principle of law that acting as though you don't have a right when you have plenty of opportunity to assert it tends to mean you've renounced any claim to it.
.....
On the contrary, that is exactly what it implies to a court. Whether courts SHOULD draw that conclusion is a separate question; the fact is they do. You really should be careful about forming opinions on this sort of thing if those opinions are going to be exactly contrary to what actually happens.
Stardock keeps pointing to this, but it's only one small set of e-mails out of years of correspondence and on its own it's merely ambiguous. By the account Fred and Paul give in their complaint, though, Wardell repeatedly begged them for a license to their universe and they repeatedly said no, implying that they both agreed he didn't have one. He also acknowledged they had the copyright, both publicly and privately. They almost certainly have e-mails to back this up - it's one thing to give dodgy interpretations and half-truths in a legal document, another thing to straight-up lie about e-mails with direct quotes and specific dates. Also by their account, he was aware they had a distribution agreement with GOG well before 2017 and accepted it.
He...asked “to release an update to Star Control 1/2 under the existing agreement (50/50) split [presumably referring to GOG] if we can get your permission for the 25th anniversary.”
"Under the existing agreement", "If we can get your permission." On top of that there is their account of the discussion with Atari, which shows they believed themselves to have exclusive ownership and license outside the trademark and were willing to protest when they thought it was being broken. And of course the documents themselves are very important, which look pretty difficult to read in Stardock's favor.
I also don't think a court would expect someone to repeatedly object to any and all little details. But the court would be looking for someone to say at least once - preferably fairly early on, once the other party's pattern of behavior became clear: "Hey, just so you know, you aren't actually allowed to do that. We still retain rights X, Y, and Z, as you'll see if you check contract M." That's what Paul Reiche and Fred Ford didn't do for nearly five years.
Well first of all, they seem to have not really found Wardell's actions objectionable for the first few years - at worst the occasional misleading public statement. And by their account, they did explain their rights to Stardock on other occasions. Maybe I'm guessing too much as a non-lawyer, but if their communications as a whole matchs Fred and Paul's version, this one exchange is probably of minor importance. Of course we don't have the e-mails to know for sure exactly how things went and which side they actually favor, only the handful in Stardock's exhibit. It's quite possible they will always remain confidential - I think that can be a condition of settlements, which I expect there will be one.



krulle wrote:It's a pity the publication I saw of FF and PR counterclaim did not include the original and amendments...
MaybeI'll ever get to see that, but then this is basically core business stuff, hence confidential.

In total, I will still wait for the outcome, and will still not be able to solve the issues.
I'm not sure what version you saw, but their complaint does include the legal documents (starts at page 31). To this non-lawyer, they pretty strongly favor Fred and Paul's side.




On Stardock's timeline: it obviously has some truth in it. However, Fred and Paul's version suggests that it omits some major facts (yes, I realize theirs is probably also selective). Such as that Wardell mentioned litigation before Ghosts was announced. By the way, this is a pretty low blow:
17. Paul and Fred's attorney requests multiple time extensions to respond, use that time to secretly do press interviews, hire a PR firm. (2018)
They released a short press release and far as I know, did one (not plural) interview by phone. How long does Stardock think that took?

User avatar
vok3
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:00 am

Mormont wrote:Stardock keeps pointing to this, but it's only one small set of e-mails out of years of correspondence and on its own it's merely ambiguous. By the account Fred and Paul give in their complaint, though, Wardell repeatedly begged them for a license to their universe and they repeatedly said no, implying that they both agreed he didn't have one. He also acknowledged they had the copyright, both publicly and privately.
I don't see much of a contradiction here. Stardock hasn't been making stuff in their universe, which is completely consistent with all that. The floating Dreadnought and Eluder models in one of the convo screenshots could definitely count as a violation, but it's a pretty small one - the sort of thing that wouldn't come up if both parties were on good terms (and if one party thought they were on good terms with the other they could justify doing that as a gesture of respect). Stardock DOES claim to have the rights to sell, distribute, and market the games, and has been saying so repeatedly going back to 2013. That's different from making new content using the IP; and the DMCA takedown is directly acting against those sale and distribution rights. So having a lawsuit show up immediately afterward is a fairly logical result.
Stardock's timeline obviously has some truth in it. However, Fred and Paul's version suggests that it omits some major facts (yes, I realize theirs is probably also selective). Such as that Wardell mentioned litigation before Ghosts was announced.
Does this mean point 86 in the countersuit? I'm really curious as to what the specific wording there was.
Well first of all, they didn't really find Wardell's actions objectionable for the first few years. And by their account, they did explain their rights to Stardock.
Here again we're getting into he said/he said stuff, because from what I've seen of Stardock's side of the story, it sounds like Stardock asked for evidence supporting that claim and didn't get it, and it didn't jibe with the other stuff they'd gotten from Atari.
I'm not sure what version you saw, but their complaint does include the legal documents (starts at page 31). To this non-lawyer, they pretty strongly favor Fred and Paul's side.
What I see here is: first, a pattern of behavior on the part of Brad Wardell to really desperately try to get them on board along with the SC1/2 IP - which is totally understandable, frankly - along with repeated clear statements that he can't actually use it without their permission. Second, a complaint that Stardock is selling and distributing the games. That seems to be the key underlying point where things got ugly. Stardock seems totally convinced that they can do it and that what they bought applies to all three games. If the court finds that the claims that all the rights reverted to Paul Reiche back in 2000 or so is justifiable, and that the characterization of Brad Wardell accepting that the "Star Control Franchise" consists just of SC3 is accurate, then it is very possible that Paul Reiche does have all the rights, the DMCA takedown was justified, and Stardock bought a bag of nothing.

There's other claims that directly contradict things Stardock has said. Those will get resolved when all the relevant facts get dragged out in court.

What this might all come down to is the definition of "Star Control Franchise" and how clearly the definition was front and center. I won't presume to guess how the court will decide, I could see it going either way.

User avatar
Mormont
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:44 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Mormont » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:32 am

Does this mean point 86 in the countersuit? I'm really curious as to what the specific wording there was.
Me too. Whether we'll ever find out, who knows.
I don't see much of a contradiction here. Stardock hasn't been making stuff in their universe, which is completely consistent with all that.
Wardell actually was claiming fairly recently that Stardock had an exclusive license to make whatever they wanted with the IP and were simply choosing not to, though Stardock seems to have backed off it now. I think one of Fred and Paul's aims is to get a definitive statement that no one else has any right to continue the Ur-quan universe. The convo screen is perhaps arguable as homage, maybe with some tweaks to make the ships not completely identical. Less defensible is their use of SC2 aliens in promotional art.
vok3 wrote:There's other claims that directly contradict things Stardock has said. Those will get resolved when all the relevant facts get dragged out in court.

What this might all come down to is the definition of "Star Control Franchise" and how clearly the definition was front and center. I won't presume to guess how the court will decide, I could see it going either way.
Well, I keep saying this but I do expect it to settle. Fred and Paul want to make their game and Stardock can't like the way the suit makes them look, not to mention the money drain on both sides. Stardock's biggest complaint seems to be the use of the trademark - probably they can find some lawyerly way to compromise where Fred and Paul can use the name within limits. For example, maybe they can see say "a sequel to Star Control (tm) 2 " but not "the official sequel." Or "the official sequel to Ur-quan Masters from the creators of Star Control (tm) 2." (I don't think the "creators" argument is going to hold up at all - even if that point can be legally defended in a technical sense, Fred and Paul were not using it any legal context)

As for the old games...Stardock really doesn't have that much to gain by keeping them up. It could well be that they decide no one can distribute them. But maybe Fred and Paul get the SC1 source if Stardock does have it?

Post Reply