In a messy legal situation that has been continuing since at least December, Star Control’s original developers, Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, are filing a counterclaim against Brad Wardell and the company Stardock over the question of who owns Star Control.
We talked about the story in December, but the short version is that Reiche and Ford believe that the rights to Star Control belong to them and have been working on a new game under the company name Dogar and Kozan, while Stardock believes it belongs to them and have reportedly been trying to stop the development of the pair’s sequel to the game.
From our original story in December: “In order to understand Dogar and Kazon’s claims, we need a bit of history. Toys for Bob (which Dogar and Kazon founders Fred Ford and Paul Reiche also founded) developed the original two Star Control games, which the now-defunct company Accolade published. After Accolade published a couple of sequels not developed by Toys For Bob, the franchise went into deep sleep, and its rights were later picked up by Atari. In 2013, Stardock bought the rights to series from Atari when the company liquidated its assets as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (Stardock is currently listed as the publisher of the series on Steam). Stardock is creating its own entry in the Star Control series, Star Control: Origins.”
Today, the pair announced via their website that they are filing a countersuit against Stardock.
“Stardock filed a complaint in Federal court against us, personally, alleging among other things that we are not actually the creators of Star Control,” the post reads. “This is news to us! Are we clones of the original Fred and Paul, just now learning of our squelchy vat birth? Unfortunately, Stardock’s complaint is not a prank – so, today we took action and filed a response in Federal court answering Stardock’s false claims. Of course, we’ve also filed counterclaims against Stardock, as the original Fred and Paul would have wanted.”
It is impossible to say outside of a courtroom how this will turn out, but it looks like both sides are digging the trenches for a protracted battle.
While I legally have no idea who is in the right here, the biggest takeaway from this is that IP and copyright law is messy. I can’t wait to see this untangled and see who has the correct claim, though my guess is that it’s not that simple.