The Third Doctrinal War -- Stardock, Reiche/Ford, and Star Control

Whoah man, that does explain the radio silence :( sounds they were crushed… even if they won. Eerily relevant to the topic of this thread, though.

As I wrote a while ago, this has caused damage on my consideration… it’s a bit a “third strike, you’re out” for me. I’ll be less likely to engage with Stardock in the future.

Edit: cheers to @Adam_B for the helpful tip

This isn’t the thread for this but for accuracy: the last post on our site marks the launch of our last Sins DLC “Outlaw Sector” which came 2 years after the trademark post. I didn’t bother posting anything, but we also won in Canada. Finally, I’m not sure about radio silence unless you mean product announcements. I’m active almost everyday on the Sins steam forums and I’ve been putting out plenty of code updates (including one last week). As for new products, I’m working on multiple projects, there just isn’t anything public. Silence on the new products has nothing to do with the trademark lawsuits, Stardock, or any external factor - its purely an internal matter. Sorry for the sidetrack.

Hey man, I’m super glad to be wrong. I was just going off the Ironclad Games site.

Super excited to see whatever’s next, unless it’s something boring like B2B internet auto marketing services. In which case I’d be happy for you getting paid, but not really interested in consuming your product ;)

NP, I’m excited too!

Just to be clear:

If Stardock wants to use the space ships from Star Control I/II it has to have permission of the copyright holders which would not include Accolade/Stardock.

If the 1988 agreement was active, then Stardock would have the right to do that under a royalty percent that would be too high to use hence a request to create a specific license.

If the 1988 agreement has expired, then Stardock can’t use the spaceships without a new license.

There is no “screw you” here because Stardock can’t use the space ships or, for instance, the Orz, as depicted in Star Control II.

Contrary to some of the imagined correspondence I’ve seen here, I think there were like 4 such requests over a period of 5 years trying to find a way to license the space ships and/or Orz.

But what this means, as a practical matter, is that the Orz, for example, cannot be in the new Star Control games (IANAL) because, IMO, they are too well defined. Not in terms of art even, but even if you changed the Orz to look totally different, a species called Orz that started saying “We are frumple” would be too risky to try to put into a commercial game (again IMO).

So even with a registered trademark on the Orz, as a game designer, I don’t see a way to use them in game because of the issues I listed above.

The bottom line, if Stardock has a species called the Orz, it would have to be so different that it would be, IMO, worthless in game without a copyright license.

But that doesn’t mean that Paul and Fred can use them either. The Orz are strongly associated with Star Control. There’s an endless series of exhibits that show this. Every time Star Control comes up and someone says we are happy campers a lawyer smiles. The only way they can use the Orz in commerce is with Stardock’s permission.

Now, if you look back through the various emails, you will find that the Orz was an alien that we wanted to get a specific license to use. Paul and Fred’s refusal meant no Orz now and presumably, no Orz ever after. But at the same time, we don’t have to let them use the Orz either.

As long as Paul and Fred are trying to cancel the Star Control trademark, you can be assured that Stardock will respond aggressively by locking down any and all trademarkable items associated with Star Control. I realize some of you have an issue with this but that is the nature of the beast.

Personally, I’d rather have an amicable settlement where everyone is happy or at least, equally unhappy.

[Y]ou can be assured that Stardock will respond aggressively by locking down any and all trademarkable items associated with Star Control.

I’d like to know when Stardock plans on demanding that The Ur-Quan Masters stop being distributed. Or are you just going to not defend the purported trademark vigorously in that case?

As long are you are literally personally suing them using that trademark obviously they will continue to argue the trademark is invalid. You brought it on yourself. Stop trying to make it seem like they made you do all this. Take some responsibility for your actions. Don’t try to play the victim because they are doing the first and most obvious thing in defense to the lawsuit you initiated.

Why do you think all this excuse making and victim playing does anything but reinforce the negative feelings your actions have created? If the excuses didn’t go over well the first time, why would they go over well the 20th time?

UQM isn’t being used in commerce. As long as that doesn’t change, there’s no issue.

I’m not personally suing anyone. Frankly, Thrag, I could really care less what you think. It is pretty clear to me that you don’t understand the topic that is being discussed. I just read your posts for the entertainment value.

Your company is suing P&F personally. You know this. Don’t play coy.

I see that all you have are insults. I’m sure people seeing this behavior on your part will no doubt temper their bad feelings about the episode.

I’m watching you guys back and forth live.

Should I have brought popcorn? :S

I’m sorry, I thought you said something earlier about “Welcome to the Internet”. I didn’t realize you were now very fragile.

I brought enough for both of us. ;)

Really? Okay then. You keep being you and keep on behaving in ways that alienate people for no good reason or discernible benefit to yourself. Continue to not even think for a second about the consequences of your words and actions.

IANAL either, but I’m pretty sure that’s irrelevant (otherwise, I’d be watching new episodes of Star Trek Continues). You should explicitly grant them permission (however that works) for some good will.

EDIT: I remembered, that’s a bad example because of donations. UQM might want some, though.

I disagree with this analysis, and frankly your lawyer probably does too, if they’re being honest and know much about trademark law. But I guess it’s good for the gaming community as a whole if you fail to vigorously enforce your purported trademark, so please keep on that path.

That is the story of my life. ;)

This I agree with. I will see about providing some sort of blanket license to them (not Star Trek continues but UQM).

If it goes to trial, and the judge issues a ruling on the merits of the IP ownership that shows how P&F were wrong and Stardock was right, it would improve my opinion of Stardock, but if Stardock is shown to have made baseless claims about P&F being willful fraudsters, that’s still going to weigh my opinion down quite a bit. And if Stardock were to win by running P&F out of money and forcing them to capitulate before trial, that would be about the worst possible result as to my opinion of the company. Not that I think Brad is going to lose a lot of sleep over my opinion, of course. :-)

P&F re-registered their copyright to SC2 in April, after obtaining copyright assignments from most of the other SC2 team members. Given how Stardock is trumpeting the (admittedly unprofessional sounding) email exchange between P&F’s lawyer and the copyright office during their first registration, one can infer from Stardock’s lack of commentary that the second one probably went more smoothly.

How did the word ‘Orz’ acquire the secondary meaning necessary for it to be considered an indicator of the source of a good, as opposed to just a descriptor for a fictional race?

Well, at least you’re acknowledging that it’s part of an “aggressive” legal strategy. But why resort to such clearly unpopular measures? If you are confident that your “Star Control” trademark is incontestable, you could just let their attempt fail, as the judge would surely throw it out. Taking aggressive measures like this in response just makes it look like you’re grasping for leverage to try to make P&F back down before their claim reaches court.

Moreover, even if P&F do cancel the original trademark, how does that harm you, really? You can file (and have actually already filed) a new one on “Star Control” that would fully protect SC:O and any future games you create. The only difference is that it would technically be a new “Star Control” product line instead of a continuation of the old one. Is that difference really worth the mountain of ill-will these tactics are generating?

As do I. There are plenty of examples of non-commercial open-source projects owning trademarks. There is even case law saying that unincorporated associations of individuals can own trademarks.

I seem to recall getting scoffed at when I proposed such a blanket license on the Stardock forums a few months ago. I’m glad to hear that you might reconsider.

Do let us know if he follows through. I did read the posts you are referring to and you were basically dismissed and mocked for even suggesting such a thing was possible. If this is actually followed up on, and not just more bullshit said for public consumption like all the transparent “I don’t know what might have possibly offended anyone and I’m just so sorry” statements that we’ve seen it would boost my opinion of Stardock slightly.

Actions do matter.