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


Yeah, that line is puzzling. P&F have put out a few blog posts. If making noise comes into it at all Stardock has been in a full PR press this whole time. P&F didn’t “make noise” about SC:O. They’ve mostly stayed quiet and let the legal filings do the talking.


My personal opinion is that the actual red line that was crossed was the trademark lawsuit.

All of the issues about the chain of IP and maybe it should have been resolved better years ago - Sure? Maybe? But it’s sort of the norm for this stuff to be messy, especially when there’s no reasonable belief it will ever be worth real money again.

Among normal businesspeople the F+P announcement gets resolved with a single cease and desist letter, followed by a handshake agreement to not use each others’ properties. In fact, I’d argue that it pretty much was resolved (evidence: F+P updated their web page to change the wording), but was then used as a Gulf of Tonkin incident to try to pry the copyrights away. Without the lawsuit, there’s no counter-suit, no DMCA, and everyone just goes on with their lives.


I just don’t understand… I mean… it was like he had the best intentions then things went crazy. I wonder if Brad got bad advice from his attorneys, or if he was the driving force. I wonder if this could sink the company, and if so… was it worth it?


There is just no way a good IP attorney told him this lawsuit was a good idea.


I don’t know him personally so I don’t know if he’s the type of person that would plot this in advanced. I do know people who would, and pull it off. My totally unqualified hunch is that he meant well and indeed did not understand what he was getting himself into. Then the type of person he is didn’t help when he realized it wasn’t going his way. Which is unfortunate because it casts a shadow on what were good intentions, the creative energy of himself, and most importantly his team. I think it is fair to recognize that.

edt. in hindsight of his intentions dating back to 2008 however, there’s not much he can mask here. This wasn’t an all-of-a-sudden and totally organic moment I swear guys. There was much business development / strategy prior. There had to be legal discussions dating back this far as well.


I would think so as well as he’d had to have been talking with IP/TM lawyers to figure out what’s available and how to make this happen.


Probably not. They are a large respected firm. Now being a pretty large firm they have a variety of people of various skill levels and potentially those assigned to the case may not be top men, but there’s likely at least a senior person specialized in IP law doing oversight of the team.

or if he was the driving force.

Despite his public statement that he’s not involved that was posted for a chuckle earlier, all his other public statements point to yes.

I wonder if this could sink the company,

Hard to say since they have the desktop tools side of the business, but it could potentially do a huge amount of harm. All revenue from SC:O and sales of the classic games x3 harm.

If they did spend $10 million on development even without the DMCA they must be way in the red on the project. If the company staying afloat was based on some of the revenue projections put out by Stardock prior to release they’ve been sinking fast for a while.

Now I may be mistaken about this, in a unlikely but worst possible case if it does sink the company, and their assets don’t satisfy the judgement, the fact that Stardock is a one shareholder (or closely held with just a few other shareholders) if the intent is found to be willful and directed by that one majority shareholder, there is a non-zero risk of personal liability.

and if so… was it worth it?

Ah, finally a question with a definite answer that likely all parties involved and on the sidelines can agree on.



Then they expect us not to understand this. Or to not be, what’s a good word for this … enraged when PR is spat out trying to convince those who would not understand this otherwise? That is the nature of acting in bad faith and it’s children.


Brad is often his own worst enemy. pre-Fallen Enchantress was a huge debacle that almost sunk the company, but he made things right in the end. But that mess didn’t involve legal entities, just the gaming consumers. I don’t know how he can make good out of this mess (especially as legal costs are something he probably can’t control at this point).


Uh, that did involve a legal battle as well.


It did? I have a short memory.


I feel like I overstep myself by even trying to say something on this. It’s the one place where I feel bad for everyone involved.


I can see him reading online about trademark, coming up with theories that support his notion that the trademark covers everything ever associated with the mark, and then calling his attorneys to run this past them. They reply with something like "Technically yes trade dress protects things strongly associated with the mark, but …(explanation of how it means things like logos).

Everything after the “technically yes” gets tuned out. Bubble reinforced.


I only used that quote because he’s said it of himself in the past. I like Brad personally even though I greatly dislike some of his political leanings. He’s a very nice, kind person in real life. Though one starts to wonder once he gets writing. Then again, I’m pretty sheepish in real life, but can come across like a boar on forums.

When this all started I wrote I hoped it all just went away ASAP so these two great developers could just do their thing. Instead it’s gone to DEFCON 5 and I get the impression not only will we not have a SCO, but P&F won’t ever bother making a true Star Control sequel.


I agree with peterb’s analysis:

I believe that it was always Brad’s intent to remake SCII, starting with a prequel, and then moving on to SCII itself. His first email to Paul sketches the outline of that by talking about a reboot. As a developer, I can empathize with this; I’ve often imagined how fun it would be to personally remake some of my favorite classic games, like MOO and SCII.

I don’t think he ever really accepted that Paul turned him down flat (witness how many times he went back to Paul pleading for permission), and that he would never be permitted to realize that dream. So when faced with the possibility that he might not be allowed to do what he wanted, he decided to make an “alternate timeline” universe that was changed just enough to get away with it.

But in 2017, when P&F revealed their own plans to him, I think he realized that he was too close to the original, and had a real risk of them coming after him for infringement, and he had too much time and money invested by this point to easily change course. So he decided to mount a preemptive attack, using a circuitous reading of the 1988 agreement to claim that he had always had the right to use the SCII universe, but had only been staying out of it as a courtesy to them. I think he was expecting them to fold, but they called and raised instead, leading to the current full-blown IP war.


Seems like a common sentiment some fall back on, some actively promote. When I made the misstep of going fully rain man on this I did a chronology that led to the notice of intent from Stardock on the Accolade agreement. That was it, done. Any debate on the human element for me at least has to come before that moment. After that moment I have zero concern for the tactics used when someone has just picked you up and thrown you on the ground, then kicked at your head.


It was only tangentially related to Elemental, but the whole broken forum’s meme about the “elemental materials” was from the lawsuit back then.


The way that ended, with the other party capitulating likely due to lack of resources to fight the countersuit regarding sabotaging Elemental’s release, it probably gave Stardock the notion they’d roll over P&F.


“Make noise” = get the lawyers and paperwork to file a DMCA notice, present it to retailer. That’s the noise that matters.

It helps to read things whole rather than just single lines.


Not being a developer, I empathize with this as well.