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

There is a more complete timeline on the fan wiki. They first indicated their concrete intent in an email from Fred to Brad in October of 2017. The exact phrase was that “Activision is allowing Paul and me to work independently and outside Activision”. Which, true, does not necessarily mean that they couldn’t do Activision work during that time, but it is clear that they needed to get Activision’s permission to do it.

You’re suggesting that they deliberately made a product announcement to mislead their fans into thinking they were working on a sequel when they weren’t planning to actually do so anytime soon. That would be a really deceptive thing to do, the main result of which would be that their fans would become pissed off and disappointed when the game never materialized. What evidence do you have that gives you a basis to believe that they are that irrationally petty?

How would putting out a false product announcement change anything regarding anyone’s rights?

So, were you expecting them to keep working on the game while they were in the middle of a lawsuit that could keep them from ever releasing it? Or after they had to blow the money they had saved to make the game on lawyers to keep their rights?

Those expectations do not seem reasonable to me.

My belief is that this was part of a smart legal strategy to help prove their case against Stardock that ultimately paid off. It has nothing to do with being irrationally petty - it was a rational decision.

Not only is that not evidence, but it doesn’t even make sense; a false product announcement doesn’t “prove” anything, or help their legal case in any way. In fact, from a legal standpoint, it only hurt them, by giving Stardock a basis to sue them for trademark infringement.

The announcement is what led to the lawsuit. The announcement didn’t come after they were sued. If the idea is that the announcement was to strengthen their rights in a dispute they could see coming that doesn’t make much sense since their IP rights in no way required or were affected by such an announcement.

Are you thinking of the notion that you need to keep trademarks active perhaps? P&F weren’t claiming any trademarks (initially) so they didn’t need an active business use.

This is basically what I’m reacting to and why I believe the way I do. Again, if I’m wrong, I’m happy to be wrong in this case:

  • 2017-10-07 : Allegedly, Stardock CEO rejects that the license expired. He allegedly suggests he will use Reiche and Ford’s IP under the license, and mentions possibility of litigation.[224](pgph 86)
  • 2017-10-09 : Reiche and Ford publicly announce Ghosts of the Precursors as a " direct sequel to Star Control II – the Ur Quan Masters ".[225]

You left off the prior week’s events. The two parties were peacefully going about their separate ways until 2017-10-04, when Fred told Brad that Activision had given permission for them to finally start work on a sequel.

Brad responded by telling them (for the first time, and reversing things he’d previously said to them) that he had exclusive control over their copyrights in perpetuity, citing an old contract from 1988.

Fred replied that Brad was wrong, because that contract had expired in 2001 due to Infogrames/Atari’s failure to pay royalties (among other reasons, and citing the specific termination clause in the contract), and that they were going to be moving ahead with their plans.

So there was no legal conflict at the time when P&F told Brad they’d be doing a sequel soon; it was Brad who instigated the conflict when he learned of it. If he had just said “Okay, cool; you do your game in your universe (but don’t call it ‘Star Control’), and I’ll do my game called ‘Star Control’ (but in a new universe)”, then it all would have been good, and we’d probably have gotten both games, and been one happy fan community.

Instead, Brad sued them, they countersued, and we spent the next two years watching them fight.

Stardock’s Star Control might have managed to have way better sales too since Brad might have been able to hold back from personally insulting half the potential player base.

I personally will never buy another Stardock game again until he is no longer involved with the company in any fashion.

Not that it matters much, but hey, I’m just saying there are at least dozens of us.


At this point the damage to Stardock is done. Nearly everyone I know boycotts them, which is sad because they still make quality stuff and some good people work there.

I’m not sure I understand what’s going on lately with this thread - do these recent posts indicate that P&F are moving forward with a SC remake?

[I never played the originals (don’t hate me) but know they were loved but thought the legal wrangling had been resolved]

A sequel to the Ur-Quan Masters storyline, but basically yes. Two years to the day of the settlement they updated their blog with an “I’m back” message. Basically just a teaser at this point but a pretty clear sign now that the two year period specified in the settlement has ended they are finally getting started.

Thank you. I cannot believe 2 years have passed since all the drama and legal action. Time flies.

Part of the settlement stipulated that they could not talk about their own sequel for those two years since then.
The Frungy message is just a vague note that you can interpret as them still being interested in making their sequel, posted at the earliest date they were allowed to.

Concerning sequel content, while I was disappointed in SC3 as a whole it did have some good bits as well.
I thought some of the alien histories were interesting, even though many were underexplored.

  • The microscopic hive mind civilization that speculated it evolved out of precursor bioweapons.
  • Two species that co-evolved a symbiotic relationship, with on of them being food of the other.
  • The Doog being stupid and taken advantage of in itself was not super clever. But putting a spacefaring species into an eternal debt trap is not too far-fetched (it’s still happening for nations today on Earth at the very least) and has some potentially neat political/story avenues.