Anyone whose been paying attention to the Star Control franchise of late has heard of ongoing legal disputes between various parties, and now there’s a sad new development concerning Star Control: Origins. That particular entry has apparently been pulled from sale on various digital platforms after Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, the developers who are considered the creators of the beloved Star Control II, issued a DMCA against the title.
For those not in the know, there have been some ongoing legal issues surrounding ownership of the underlying intellectual property for the Star Control franchise. Stardock claims to have bought the Star Control IP off Atari back in 2013, although this is heavily disputed and has resulted in a lot of different legal cases being brought.
This latest development comes after a 2017 suit was filed by Stardock’s Brad Wardell attempting to stimy future DMCA attempts. Unfortunately for Stardock, the judge has denied Wardell’s request for a Preliminary Injunction, which allowed the DMCA process filed by Reiche and Ford to continue, and now results in the game being pulled from sale.
This is partly the result of preexisting policy by Steam and GOG to pull games in response to DMCA complaints, a pretty standard move to avoid being caught up in the legal mess that often follows these kinds of issues. It now appears that it’s up to the courts to finally decide who owns the IP. Stardock has responded to this development, wherein they assure games who already own the game will continue to have access, and that the company will continue to fight for control of the property. Ford and Reich have documented the overall dispute on their website. So you can check that out for their side of the story.
The court was pretty harsh in its ruling against this particular Injunction, noting that Stardock has made serious missteps within the legal process.
In view of the foregoing, the harm Plaintiff complains of is indeed of its own making. Plaintiff had knowledge of Defendants’ copyright claims from the outset. Despite that knowledge, it developed potentially infringing material without resolution of the IP ownership issues, and then publicized the release of that material during the pendency of this action. It now claims that its investment in Origins and reputation are on the line. Given that Plaintiff largely created the foregoing predicament, the Court is disinclined to extricate Plaintiff from a peril of its own making.
So while the matter of IP ownership is ongoing, it appears that the courts have ruled that Stardock has failed to adequately prove sufficient motivation for some of its filings, as well as ownership of this particular IP.