Hi there... this is Greg Johnson again. I shared an office with Paul up until the time they started on Star Control and then was across the hall from Paul and Fred as they built both games - helping out from time to time, just as Paul assisted me on my Starflight games. I've known those guys for 35 years now - ever since I started in the games industry, and I still run a games studio as an independent game developer so I know how all of this stuff works. I don't really want to step into the middle of an unpleasant legal battle but I see some misguided fan comments (albeit perhaps well-intentioned) here and I believe I can bring a little clarity. I will just stick to facts since these things can be emotional and I am friends with Paul and Fred. Still I prefer to be respectful and give people the benefit of the doubt and as I said my hope is that everyone can come to some mutually acceptable resolution and stop wasting money and energy on law suits.
OK so first, Paul and Fred were not employees of Accolade. They were what's called 3rd party developers (there is internal, 1st party, 2nd party, and 3rd party). Just because Accolade funded the development doesn't mean that Fred and Paul can't or don't own the IP. That will be spelled out in their contract with Accolade and it's pointless to guess or surmise. What I can say is that it's not at all unreasonable - I co-own the IP to Toejam and Earl even though it was funded by Sega, and Rod McConnell, the head of our 3rd party dev group Binary Systems, that made Starflight, owns the IP to Starflight. 30 years ago it was much more common for developers to have contracts that let them own the IP. I can also say that Paul and Fred have always believed they own the IP and I have believed they do too, but I haven't seen their contract with Accolade. What they didn't believe they owned was the trademark to the name "Star Control".
I can also tell you that Paul and Fred were just two guys in an office back in the garage shop days of game development, and they made those games with occasional help from a few others like me and Erol and Leonard. Toys For Bob on the other hand, is owned by Activision so in this type of case it is almost certain that Activision will own that IP. Further TFB is a very large game company unlike the 2 guys in an office in the old days.
Next - just for people's edification, in a 3rd party deal, the terms creator always refers to the individuals or entities actually making "creating" the game, and "publisher" refers to the publisher who funds and markets the game. Those terms don't have anything to do with what the IP ownership arrangement is. And IP ownership can be complicated - sometimes it is even held by the publisher only to revert to the developer after some period of time or under certain conditions. So... stop guessing. It is whatever it says in their contract with Accolade.
Next in regards to suit - it looks to me that Stardock sued Paul and Fred to stop them from using the IP. Paul and Fred have counter sued. Correct me if that's wrong but I think that's what's happened. I know that Paul and Fred don't want to be spending their time and money in a legal battle - and I hope the same is true for Brad and Stardock. As to whether Brad's assertion that Paul and Fred saying their new game is a sequel to Star Control 2 will damage sales of Stardock's game - who knows. Somebody asked "why didn't Paul and Fred object sooner?" Well it's because they didn't see a problem in Stardock making the game, and they didn't believe it would limit them from building theirs. Take a look at which direction the law suits are flowing.
Why didn't they make the sequel sooner? Their company was owned by Activision. I don't know the details of their contracts but I'd guess they were bound contractually and now they are probably not.
As to what Stardock actually purchased and for what amount from Accolade - well again who knows. And was there a mistake or misunderstanding here in what got purchased? Again only the court can decide and it's silly for people to guess. I certainly don't know and don't want to guess.
OK, well last word from me... I think this is most likely a misunderstanding that has blown out of control, with emotions taking the lead. I would tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and I believe there is probably still a path to both parties letting each other make their games - Star Control offers a big rich Universe. I hope all parties will decide to drop the lawsuits - though since the suit originated with Stardock I think it will probably need to begin here. And Brad, I understand why you're upset too - you've sunk a lot of work and money already, as have members of your team and I feel for them too... and comments have been heated which is hard on both sides - still generosity requires tremendous courage. I truly wish you well, and Paul and Fred too. Good luck in resolving this. I hope you all can adopt a live and let live attitude so the fans can enjoy your awesome games. Here's hoping.
Oh and Brad - I congratulate you on hosting this open discussion on your site for the fans and allowing me to participate.