Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, have amicably settled the dispute concerning the tangled intellectual property rights that surrounded the 30-year old game franchise, Star Control, with Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock Entertainment. The legal dispute stretches back to 2017, when Ford and Reiche accused Stardock of selling the earlier games unlawfully, claiming they still had the rights to elements of the series that the publisher was using. In a blog release by Reiche, he revealed the terms of settlement agreement on 11th June 2019, which by itself is confidential, but both parties wished to share the terms. The fight ended with the trademark and copyright questions being put to rest with the agreement spelling out the copyrighted IP that Reiche and Ford care about, along with the trademarks that Stardock cares about, with each party agreeing to respect these boundaries in their use in the future.
The main highlight of the agreement was the paragraph about bees. Yes, bees. Bees settled the dispute for both parties. What happened was Reiche decided to call Wardell directly, something Wardell had suggested over a year ago, bypassing their lawyers and instead of talking about the legal battle, they spoke about their common interest; bees. From there, it snowballed into mutual understanding and an agreement to help each with bees.
"We added a section in which I'll be working with Paul on beekeeping. He's going to send me some meade, I'm going to send him some honey," said Wardell. "I don't think the lawyers were particularly enthusiastic about us incorporating some of this into the agreement.”
Once the two talked about what each really cared about, coming to a resolution was swift. “The conversation about bees, honey, mead, and bee stings went on for quite a while before we moved on to the talking about the case,” said Reiche. “Our perspective was this: we don't like fighting, but we love creating, so can we step waaay outside the box and settle our dispute through positive, creative actions rather than continuing to beat each other up?”
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. Reiche and Ford will split royalties equally with Stardock. The settlement resolved all issues with all the parties, including Valve and GOG.
The expansion pack, Earth Rising, is due to be completed this Fall. Stardock and Paul Reiche plan to begin work on the new Star Control game together this Fall.
Who says legal battles have to have a winner and a loser?
“There is no 'loser'. All sides win, because we are no longer burning money, creative energy and the goodwill of our fans.” – Paul Reiche.