He didn't even need to figure it out on his own; P&F told him they had plans shortly after he bought the trademark, From those same emails:Spaceport wrote: ↑Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:33 pmSo Brad figured out, on his own, that F&P might be planning their own sequel, which he expressed support for before the public announcement and without any direct confirmation from F&P.
Brad has more recently tried to say that he assumed P&F would wait until Stardock was done with the franchise before putting their plans into motion, implying that it was somehow unreasonable for them to act earlier than that. But I see nothing in the email chain to suggest that he had a reasonable basis for that assumption.Paul Reiche on Sep 16, 2013 wrote: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.
And that wasn't the first baseless assumption he appears to have made. As near as I can tell, this all started when he bought the trademark under the apparent assumption that P&F would either jump at the chance to work with him, or would at least license their copyrights to him. But he didn't actually ask their opinion about it until he'd already blown $400k of his company's money on the trademark. When they turned him down, he seemed to realize that he'd bought a lemon, and tried to effectively back out of the purchase by selling it to them.
Ultimately, he asks no fewer than seven times for them to give him a license, and never really seems to get the hint that they aren't obligated to play along just because he got himself in a bind.