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Stardock responds to Star Control designers' settlement offer claims

Developer's VP shares original proposal, clarifies company's position on Star Control IP rights

Following our most recent coverage of the ongoing legal battle around Star Control, Stardock has reached out to GamesIndustry.biz and pointed us towards its own response to Paul Reiche and Fred Ford's claims of a settlement offer.

The two developers maintain they are the rights holders to Star Control and are positioning their new title, Ghosts of the Precursors, as the direct sequel to Star Control II. Stardock claim this is causing market confusion, as the firm is currently working on Star Control: Origins.

Stardock's VP of marketing and strategic partnerships Kevin Unangst has been maintaining an official Q&A on the Star Control forums since February, updating as and when more information becomes available, as well as Stardock's timeline of how these events have transpired.

The timeline reiterates that Stardock denies the accuracy of the settlement offer Reiche and Ford claim to have received, with more detail offered further down in the Q&A.

"Their representation was inaccurate and the settlement discussions were covered under federal rule 408, which expects both parties to treat any sort of court-related settlement talks strictly confidential," Unangst wrote.

While Unangst maintains he is "not at liberty to discuss" the specifics, he did offer a breakdown of what the firm originally proposed to Reiche and Paul before legal action was taken.

The company proposed:

  • That Reiche and Ford allow Stardock to review the announcement of their game, Ghosts of the Precursors, to ensure it didn't volate any trademarks
  • That Stardock would coordinate with the pair to ensure their respective games weren't released within 90 days of each other
  • That neither party would interfere with the sales and marketing of the other's product
  • That Stardock would not claim to use the aliens from the classic games

This offer was reportedly rejected, and Unangst says: "They have since made it very clear that their game shall be marketed at the direct sequel to Star Control II, in violation of our trademark."

Responding to the question over why Stardock is so determinedly pursuing legal action, and whether the company aims to put both Reiche and Ford out of business, Unangst wrote the following:

"Our only goal is to protect our ability to tell more stories in the Star Control multiverse. We remain fans of Paul and Fred and their contributions to Star Control. However, given the confusion they've created in the market by promoting their new game as a 'true sequel' to Star Control II, combined with their abuse of the DMCA system to take down even Star Control games they had no involvement with, we are forced to act to prevent them from continuing to create confusion.

"Consider some of your favorite games or movies. Now imagine if someone instrumental to the development of that game or movie went on to claim to be making a sequel to that game or movie without the consent of the owners of that trademark? What would be the result?"

Addressing the confusion as to whether Reiche and Ford can refer to themselves as the creators of Star Control, Unangst offered clarification on Stardock's position.

"Paul and Fred were the designers of Star Control I and II," he wrote. "In the credits, on the box and elsewhere they had previously officially listed themselves as either developers or designers.  

"It is Stardock's opinion that they have begun to focus on referring to themselves as 'creators' in their marketing in order to give the impression that Ghosts of the Precursors would have the the same creative core as Star Control II. This is not the case.

"What most people do not realize is Star Control II had, in essence, the dream sci-fi team as mentioned in this 25th anniversary tribute. The lead animator went on to lead the animation at Pixar and is the director of the Minions movies. Many of the alien designs were created by the artist who went on to design Darth Maul and other Star Wars and Marvel movie characters. Many of the most quoted lines came from seasoned sci-fi writers. The engaging music was created by others.

"We respect Paul and Fred's crucial contributions as well as the rest of the talented team who worked on Star Control."

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