A press release was issued on behalf of Star Control I and Star Control II developers Pual Reiche and Fred Ford. The duo are counter-suing Stardock Entertainment to prohibit them from selling the older Star Control games, and to stop them from blocking them from making a new entry in the Ur-Quan Masters, which is a spin-off of the Star Control universe.
The original Star Control games came out back in 1988 and 1992. After Accolade was moved under Atari, and after Atari filed for bankruptcy again in 2013, the property rights for Star Control I and Star Control II were supposedly purchased by Stardock Entertainment, along with the rights to Star Control III.
So there’s two parts to this lawsuit: the first part is that Reiche and Ford feel Stardock is still selling the original two Star Control games without their permission because they claim they still own the rights. The second part of the lawsuit is a counter suit against Stardock, because Reiche and Ford claim that back in October of 2017 when they attempted to make a sequel to the spin-off of The Ur-Quan Mastrers, Stardock blocked them with a lawsuit.
Reiche explained in the press release exactly why they’re suing Stardock and what they hope to achieve, stating…
“Star Control is a pair of games we created at the start of the computer gaming revolution. Now, largely as a labor of love, we are returning to the universe we created to update it with new adventures, characters, and worlds. Stardock seems to think not only are we not the creators of Star Control, but they claim to have the exclusive rights to sell our games and otherwise use our alien races, ships, narrative, and other creative materials without our permission. This is why we felt compelled to file our counterclaim today to stop Stardock’s theft of our games, copyrights, and the universe we created for ourselves and our fans.”
The lawsuit claims that Stardock is engaging in unfair competition and trademark infringements. The lawsuit goes through a lengthier explanation of what the press release covers, including how Reiche and Ford released an open-source version of Star Control called The Ur-Quan Masters back in 2002 following the dissolution of Accolade. According to the suit, Reiche and Ford never gave Stardock rights to the Ur-Quan Masters trademark material, and are claiming that Stardock’s continued use of it is infringing on their creative trademark rights.
The lawsuit does include the agreements Reiche signed over the years to allow the companies to make use of the Star Dock properties under certain conditions, and it also includes the bid that Stardock made from Atari to take control of all three Star Control titles.
The only issue is that the open-source availability of the Ur-Quan Masters seems to throw a wrench in things, because if it’s open source then what’s to stop Stardock from using its assets in commercially sold games? And if Stardock purchased the rights from Atari for the Star Control trilogy, how are they infringing on the rights of Reiche and Ford by selling the games after the rights transferred from Accolade to Atari?
I suppose we’ll find out more as the lawsuit gets further underway.