As part of the legal kerfuffle over the rights to Star Control, a battle that has been raging since December, the game’s original developers, Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, are filing a countersuit against Brad Wardell and Stardock. The question at the hart of the mess of suits and counterclaims should be relatively straightforward: who owns Star Control?
Both Reiche and Ford believe that rights to the game are theirs, and they’ve been working on a sequel. Meanwhile Stardock — who bought the Star Control rights from Atari — believes that rights to the IP belong with them, and Stardock has been attempting to stop development on Reiche and Ford’s sequel.
The rights trouble is mostly complicated due to a series of very convoluted business acquisitions. Reiche and Ford originally developed the first two Star Control games with the studio Toys for Bob. Those games were published by the company Accolade which has since gone bust. After Accolade published a few sequels to the series that were not developed by Toys for Bob, the franchise went on hiatus. Atari ended up picking up the rights to Star Control during that time-frame. Then in 2013, Stardock bought the rights from Atari when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Stardock is currently listed as the publisher of the Star Control series if you go by the games’ Steam listings.
Stardock is currently developing its own entry in the Star Control series, which explains much of why they have filed suit against Reiche and Ford back in December.
And now, to make things even more complicated, Reiche and Ford have filed a countersuit against Stardock.
Reice and Ford, under the company name Dogar and Kazon, argue that “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.”
While the final results of this tangle remain to be seen, it does appear as if both sides are preparing to entrench themselves in a lengthy legal battle over the game rights.
Updated: Stardock have responded to the countersuit news with the following statement.
“We had no choice but to take legal action to defend the Star Control IP. We remain fans of Paul and Fred, but have to defend our ownership of the Star Control intellectual property to ensure we and the fans can continue to tell great stories in the Star Control multiverse” — Kevin Unangst, VP Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, Stardock