Thanks for continuing the dialog. Did you know I actually didn't know you were Brad until the last few days? I assumed "Frogboy" was just a community manager of the forums or something. I figured Stardock's CEO would just be to busy to have the level of involvement that you have. It was quite a surprise when I googled and learned who I was actually talking to.
No what motivates me to makes things are the people who use what we make. Even back in the OS/2 days I hung out on Usenet to talk to the beta testers.
The program (game, software, whatever) is less important to me than the people who use them.
To your first point, I understand and take you at your word that it was just an honest mistake caused by poor communication - mainly by P&F who should have been more forthcoming much earlier on their beliefs on what they owned. I give the benefit of the doubt that there's no malicious intent, but can you understand that you are now directly claiming the rights to sell those games and use the aliens and the like in them as you see fit and how that could come across as every bit as bad as the harm you perceive done to you?
Right now, legally, our position is that we absolutely have those rights. We simply aren't exercising them.
Claiming to have rights to something is no where near on the level of someone launching a new product that they claim to be the sequel to ours.
There is only one new Star Control game. Star Control: Origins.
It would take a level of cognitive dissonance that I can only imagine to conflate the two as being remotely equivalent.
To your second point, did they walk away from the table permanently or just reject your initial proposals and/or have differences of opinions on who owns what?
Walked away as in, "we are done" and wouldn't talk to us anymore. I'd have posted all those emails but the order barring discussing settlement discussions came in before those could get posted.
You're openly stating that you WILL use the aliens from SC1, SC2, and SC3 in future games. If P&F consider those to be owned by them - as you consider the Star Control trademark to be owned by you - why shouldn't they assume that you're the one operating in bad faith?
Stardock has trademarks the Spathi, Orz, Ur-Quan, etc. Those species will appear in future Star Control games. What Paul and Fred want or don't want at this stage no longer factors in.
There is the Star Control multiverse. That multiverse includes the Tywom, Scryve, Mu'kay as well as the Spathi, Ur-Quan, Orz. The histories of our Spathi and Orz will be different than from the ones expressed in the older games as those stories and lore are not owned by us and that's fine. We aren't interested in that lore. The fan community or even Paul and Fred can continue those stories.
The core of this entire disagreement from my perspective revolves around a difference of opinion on who owns whatpiece of the Star Control games and lore. You are, understandably, extremely pissed off that P&F used your trademark without permission and feel that they were unreasonable in not accepting your settlement proposal.
There shouldn't be. Stardock owns the trademarks. Paul and Fred claim to own the copyrights to SC1/2. Stardock doesn't have any claims on the copyrights to SC 1/2.
They have caused us tangible, measurable harm by announcing their new game as the true sequel to Star Control II and disrupted our marketing program. They will need to compensate us for that.
In turn, they believe we didn't have the right to distribute the 25-year old DOS games on Steam. If they are right they could, potentially, ask for the few thousand dollars that we collected. But the jury is, literally, out on that. They have also claimed that we don't really have the trademark to Star Control because...reasons and that somehow we aren't allowed to have a ship designer and don't like other elements of the new game that they think (wrongly) that they have some right to.
But...your settlement proposal seems to claim the rights to use things that P&F feel belong to them and, again just from their point of view, they don't feel that they should need to ask your permission to use the Spathi in "Ghosts of the Percursors". (Even if, before all this had happened, you would have granted it.)
If they had launched their game as Ur-Quan Masters II: Ghosts of the Precursors, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But they didn't. And if they had, I doubt many would have cared beyond the hard-core fans. Over the years, there's been countless X-COM-like games made by the "Creators". In reality, as Firaxis has made obvious at this point, most people care about the brand-name. Not who programmed what years ago (same for Fallout).
From their point of view, races like the Spathi belong to thing and you aren't doing them any favors by not using them in Star Control Origins out of respect, you simply don't have the right to do so. And if they concede that they have to ask your permission to use the Spathi in the future, no matter how willing you would have been to give those rights a couple of months back, they've lost legal ownership of something that they feel belongs to them.
That ship has sailed now. If they want to use aliens associated with Star Control they'll have to either license them from us or litigate.
We went years bending over backwards to please them. You can see over the past few months how much good will that got. Our fans expect aliens associated with Star Control to be in Star Control games. There's no longer any reason to show deference to them. You can find countless posts from people saying "It's not Star Control if it doesn't have the Ur-Quan". Star Control: Origins won't have these species (we're too late into development for one thing and second, it wouldn't fit into our lore timeline). But they will in the future.
Put a different way, they feel that you should need to ask their permission to use the Spathi and not the other way around. From their point of view, you're probably the one coming across as trying to infringe on something they own and are likely as upset as you are about their trademark infringement. Just like for your point of you, you feel you need to aggressively protect and defend your trademark rights, from theirs it seems like they need to go in and aggressively protect what they feel they own: most of SC1 and SC2 (and possibly part of SC3...not sure).
We don't care what they want anymore. They exhausted their good will with us. The sheer hypocrisy of people who make a living making Spyro games (i.e. stuff created by others) is distasteful. We never needed their permission to use the Spathi. We chose not to use the Spathi out of deference to their wishes. There is no longer any reason to defer to them for any reason whatsoever.
At the end of the day, the fans want new Star Control games and we are working very hard to bring them an amazing new Star Control game that exists in a new universe that combines a cast of new characters along with adding alien species that are associated with Star Control.
They had 25 years to do a new game. I offered to sell them the Star Control IP. They didn't want it. So the men and women at Stardock, people who are my friends and colleagues who have families and responsibilities too, have spent 4 years on a new Star Control game and it is really...really good. And it is almost done.