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Star Control lawfight settled by bees


Bees have intervened to amicably settle the legal dispute over rights to the Star Control series of sci-fi explore-o-RPGs. After finding common ground in a love of bees, Star Control creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III have hashed out a deal with Star Control: Origins developers Stardock that all parties say is nice and good and fine. Stardock will get to name their games Star Control but not claim vintage designs, Ford and Reiche will not get to name their games Star Control but will get to say they created the series, and they'll all split royalties from sales of the old games. And now they'll stop lawfighting.

This goes back to Stardock buying certain Star Control rights from Atari, which caused public arguments over what exactly those rights were then lawsuits then copyright battles. See those links for the full story. In short, they were arguing for years who owned which rights to which parts of the Star Control games, each saying the other was overstepping the mark and should be stopped.

"The magic trick to resolving this was just picking up the phone and calling each other directly," said Reiche in Stardock's statement. "Brad suggested this back in 2017 and it worked! By talking directly to each other, we were actually able to put something together that we both liked before all the legal mumbo-jumbo got in the way."

They say the initial common ground moment was bees. Stardock boss fella Brad Ward keeps bees, while Reiche makes mead from honey. So they talked bees. Then business. And drew up an agreement which includes Wardell giving the duo honey from his hives as well while Reiche gives Wardell some of his mead.

"There is no 'loser'," Ford and Reiche said in their own statement last night. "All sides win, because we are no longer burning money, creative energy and the goodwill of our fans."

Stardock are currently working on the prequel Star Control: Origins, while Ford and Reiche are planning a new game temporarily known as Ghosts Of The Precursors.

Ford and Reiche also laid out the peace treaty's key points, of which these are a few edited highlights:

  • This is honestly and truly an amicable settlement. Not only are we settling the lawsuit, but we've decided to support each other's development so that the fan community gets two great games.
  • No money changed hands.
  • Stardock will create new games in the Star Control franchise. Paul & Fred will create new games in the Ur-Quan Masters franchise.
  • To help differentiate the two franchises Paul volunteered to create a few new alien races for Origins.
  • Brad offered to help Fred and Paul with technology.
  • Stardock dropped all its alien name and character trademarks and all parties have dropped their oppositions to each other's trademarks.
  • Both sides recognise each other's copyrights and will not challenge them in the future.
  • Star Control, Star Control II, and Star Control III will be coming back for sale by Stardock so that fans of all ages can enjoy the classic games in their original form. Paul and Fred will split royalties equally with Stardock.
  • Stardock, and Brad in particular, is supportive of Paul and Fred owning the Ur-Quan Masters trademark. All of us are committed to support the current UQM team and project, including their having a free, perpetual right to use the Ur-Quan Masters trademark for their amazing fan-powered recreation of the original game.
  • We are honestly very, very happy with the way everything has settled.

And yes, the honey is part of the settlement.

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Ghosts of the Precursors

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Star Control

Video Game

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Star Control: Origins

PS4, Xbox One, PC

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.