Long-Running Star Control Lawsuit Settled Thanks to… Bees?!


It's been nearly two years since Stardock first lodged their complaint against Paul Reich III and Fred Ford in the Northern District of California Court stating that they were infringing on Stardock's ownership of the Star Control trademark. After many complicated arguments, debates and untangling of who owns what rights, the future of the 30+-year-old franchise have been sorted. Who do we have to thank for this? Buck Bumble (NO! Before you even start Ubisoft).

Strangely, this isn't too far from the truth. In a recent post on the Star Control forum, as well as a release on the website of Fred Ford and Paul Reich III, it was revealed that the dispute has been settled and that Reich and Ford will also be working with Stardock on an upcoming Star Control game later this year.

Galactic Civilizations IV Review – A Far-Reaching and Unfriendly Frontier

So, "Bees?" I hear you ask. Indeed. Evidently inspired by my preview of Bee Simulator earlier this year, Paul Reich contacted Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock, directly and rather than talk about the ongoing lawsuit, to begin with, he wanted to talk about something they had in common: Bees. No, really. Evidently having seen a video on Brad Wardell's personal YouTube (placed below), featuring something that scares the living crap out of me: Bees. On his site, Paul Reich states:

So when we called Brad Wardell my first sentence was something like, "Before I start talking about settling our legal conflict, I'd like to talk about bees." 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.

Above: A video of immense horror on Brad Wardell's personal YouTube channel.

During the conversation, both sides knew they wanted to be rid of the legal issues and realised very quickly they had a lot in common and would be more suited to work together rather than at loggerheads. This applies to more than just the games though, with the bees themselves featuring in the legal agreement. Wardell himself says:

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, I don't think the lawyers were particularly enthusiastic about us incorporating some of this into the agreement. I did a tutorial video on beekeeping I was going to send over but got stung in the video, so thought better than to actually send it.

On Reich and Ford's website, this is backed up with them having written something that confirms my long-held beliefs that everything can be sorted through the transference of alcoholic beverages:

Galactic Civilizations IV Blasts Off with a Full Release Later This Month

There is a weird paragraph in the agreement that involves bees. Seriously — no kidding. Brad Wardell is giving Fred and Paul honey from his hives and Paul is giving Brad some bottles of his homemade mead. Brad will also be giving Paul advice in how not to be stung. The lawyers thought this was pretty dang crazy. This goes to show you can find common ground in the strangest (and most delicious) of places.

With regards to the games, Stardock will still develop games in the Star Control franchise, with Reich and Ford developing titles in the newly created Ur-Quan Masters franchise. Paul Reich will be helping to differentiate the franchises by creating a new alien race for Star Control, where Wardell and Stardock will help Reich and Ford with technology. All alien name and character trademark registrations have been dropped by Stardock and both series trademarks will be respected by both parties.

Also, Star Control I, II & III will resume sale on Stardock, and other stores, with the proceeds being split evenly between both parties. All things considered, it's a fantastic result for everybody involved, including the fans of the franchise. It's rare to see such an amicable resolution to a legal battle, especially one where all of the details will be available to the public because, as stated by Reich, "The terms are not confidential. We won't be publishing the text of the agreement, but we are free to describe all of its contents".