What is the value of Star Control? The valuable part, for us, has been the Star Control brand.
That is why Paul and Fred have continually tried to associate with it.
And their legal position has been consistent: Their game will be marketed as a direct sequel to Star Control II.
You can't have it both ways. If the Star Control brand wasn't valuable then they would not be trying to associate with it.
Even their most partisan fans agree they should get a "slap on the wrist" for having launched and cemented their game in the minds of fans as the TRUE sequel to Star Control. What should that "slap on the wrist" entail?
Well, for one thing, they could have just quit kvetching about the DOS games and let them continue to be sold as they had been continuously for years. Instead, they made it crystal clear to us that they wanted to make sure we were not associated with "THEIR" game (Star Control). Except, that is not how trademarks work. That's why there was a bidding war to get the Star Control trademark at the auction. There is no sharing of trademarks. Literally. There is even a term for those that try it: Trademark dilution. It's illegal.
If Paul and Fred had, for example, come out and named their game "Ur-Quan Masters II: Ghosts of the Precursors" and not associated it with Star Control we wouldn't be here. And if they decided that they didn't want the old DOS games being sold at that point, we would have complied. Not because we agreed with them but out of deference just like we removed Super-Melee from Star Control: Origins.
But that's not what they did. They didn't accidentally do that. They knew, very well, before the announcement that we were very concerned about any confusion. Their position has been that their game will be made as an official, direct sequel to Star Control II and that continues, to this day, to be their legal position.
And in addition to that: Each correspondence would up the ante on what they think in Star Control: Origins violates their rights. First it was Super-Melee (the word). Then it was the little Spathi trinket in the background of an alien scene. Then it was the ship designer. Then it was the look of the Earthling ship. Then it was demands that we police the community. Some of the members here were listed as people violating their rights due to your fan art that was posted on online. Then it was the demand that we actively police Steam workshop for sketches or ship designs they didn't like. Then it was the concept of Star Control itself.
Then they began to make public attacks on us in public. Let's be clear: Up to this point, every representation Stardock had made of Paul and Fred had been positive even though they were willfully and aggressively violating our IP rights.
Someone can argue that they think we don't have the right to sell the old DOS games on Steam. Fair enough. That seems like something that can be worked out since it's a contradiction of what Paul and Fred had previously told us (see the original post in this thread). At the very least people can agree that it's a) not clear and not really something worth doing press interviews about -- 25 year old DOS games that have been available for sale since 2011ish suddenly being a problem).
What isn't debatable is that Stardock owns the trademark for Star Control and the men and women here have been working tirelessly for four years to create a new Star Control game and that Paul and Fred chose, out of the blue, after a quarter century of inactivity, to announce a new game, with not even a logo or web page, on the same week as our big Fleet Battles announcement and they did so calling it the "true" and "direct" sequel to Star Control going as far as to correct the media when any attempted to call it a "spiritual successor".
And despite that, we remained publicly positive about Paul and Fred and their effort while they began to attack us because of what? the DOS game being on a channel they don't like?
That takes us to December 2017:
This all then climaxes with their filing of DMCAs not just of Star Control 1,2 but also Star Control 3.
Now, I've seen people argue in this very forum that they had a right to do that against Star Control 3 (And actually, no, they didn't, not against any of them actually which is why their DMCA claim failed). The argument being that Star Control 3 contained IP from Star Control 2.
Well, if you're going to argue that you can do DMCA take downs on that basis, that argument could be used against Star Control: Origins. What stops them from filing a DMCA on Star Control: Origins the week of launch because, I dunno, they decide that the Tywom look too much like one of the aliens in Star Control II? Or that they think we have to remove our ship designer. That move would ruin us.
So let's recap where we were in December:
1. They had already done something that even the fans agree they shouldn't have done: Claim their game was a direct sequel to Star Control II, complete with the *literal* box that was used by Accolade as their trademark sample (could you get any more blatant than that?) and the claim that THEY, not Accolade, released Star Control.
Their most ardent fans agree that they should get some "slap on the wrist". Ok? How about they stop doing it and just let the old games continue to be sold and work with us in the future to avoid such misunderstandings. How about we even throw in that we would put in writing that their aliens and characters and lore are exclusively theirs and no license exists? Is that unreasonable?
2. Because THIS was their response:
This was in November. They absolutely knew we would eventually have to seek legal action. But if you look at their public posts, they act as if they're shocked, shocked that this would happen.
3. They had engaged in a series of very public attacks on us because we hadn't taken the games down. It should be noted, which Paul and Fred claim they have the agreement with GOG. So how is it our fault that it's up on GOG right now? Stardock added it to Steam for the 25th anniversary but it had been up on Steam (you an check the original submission date) for years. We were waiting for the 25th anniversary to post it. But do the dozens of sales on Steam a week justify their public PR attacks on us while they are simultaneously promoting their game as the "true" sequel to Star Control?
So that's where things stood before any lawsuits were filed.
Now, let's discuss the trademarking:
As for the mess since and the trademarking. Our position is, especially after their attempt to cancel our trademark, which is that no games related to Star Control are going to be released without our permission.
Thus, if Paul and Fred or anyone else wants to make something that people associate with Star Control they will need our license just as if we wanted to use the lore, characters and setting from Star Control II we would need Paul's license.
You can see, at various points, how easy this would have been to resolve. Now? A lot more damage has been done and even attempts at settlement end up with them posting misleading representations of what was in there (the apology demand was particularly galling, not only would it be petty to ask industry legends to apologize but it would be a terrible PR idea).
I realize that is long. But there you have it.