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ZX Spectrum and Sinclair trademark holder to pull branding rights from Vega+

UPDATE: RCL claims it was awarded a licence extension, but Sky says it "failed on all counts" to meet the criteria

Original story (02/08/2018): Retro Computers Ltd is facing down yet another crisis after it was revealed the repeatedly delayed Vega+ handheld console is to lose the ZX Spectrum and Sinclair trademark liscences.

According to the BBC, rights-owner Sky said RCL had missed repeated deadlines and it would be pulling use of the trademarks as a result.

The decision, taken in May this year, will see the RCL's licence to use the name expire on August 7.

"We would love to see the Vega+ consoles in the hands of fans," a Sky spokesperson said.

"However, as RCL have repeatedly failed to deliver and breached the terms of their licence, we have made the decision to end our working relationship.

"To give as many gaming fans as possible the chance to get their Vega+ console, RCL [had] three additional months from termination to deliver the products."

The intellectual property of both brand names, and many of the 1,000 games originally promised as part of the console package, are held by Sky following its acquisition previous distribution rights holder Amstrad in 2007.

While Sky has withheld the game rights, forcing RCL to offer a "Blankity Blank" version of the console with a limited catalogue of pre-installed games, it does not own the emulation software, so RCL could technically produce the console under a different name.

An RCL shareholder meeting is scheduled for today where two former directors are reportedly seeking to usurp the current management.

Combined, they have a 50 per cent stake in the company but would need the backing of Sir Clive Sinclair, the original ZX Spectrum creator, who owns 25 per cent of RCL.

Distribution of the repeatedly delayed console began earlier this week, with around 400 of the promised 4,000 units arriving with backers.

However, reception to the console has been less than flattering, attracting criticisms for the quality of the product and the way in which it was packaged.

Update (03/08/2018): Both Sky and Retro Computers Ltd have offered different sides of the same story.

While RCL claims it was awarded a year-long extension of the licence in May, Sky told GamesIndustry.biz that RCL "failed on all counts" to meet the criteria.

In a statement provided to GamesIndustry.biz, RCL chairman David Levy said: "In May of this year Sky awarded RCL a new contract with a one year extension.

"This agreement granted RCL a licence to produce 10,000 units of the Vega+; and was only issued after we satisfied them of our intentions to deliver to backers.

"We have irrefutable evidence to support this assertion in the form of the new agreement sent to us by Sky."

However, Sky's position disputes this and, as a spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz, the licence holder said the decision was made in February to terminate the contract as of May 8, 2018.

In order to receive the extension, RCL was required to issue Sky a receipt and approval of a final prototype of the console by 15 June, dispatch the console promised to backers no later than July 15, 2018, and issue Sky a receipt of the signed, amended terms - which it reportedly failed to do.

"To allow as many fans as possible to receive the console, we provided an additional 90 days grace period, which runs until 7 August 2018," the spokesperson added. "This decision has also been communicated directly to David Levy of RCL.

"Sky did not receive royalties for the use of the brand - any royalties due were payable to charity - and allowed its use in good faith.

"Due to the consistently substandard build quality of the units tested, and the continued failure of RCL to deliver on its promises, we have unfortunately been forced to withdraw the licence."

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