Star Control Intellectual Property
Source Code and PC Assets
Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford own the copyright on the Star Control universe and the source code of the PC version of the Star Control 2 game. This was kept intentionally out of the sale of Toys for Bob to Activision, so that Paul and Fred could one day create a new game based on it.
The 3DO port was published by Crystal Dynamics, who retains the copyright to the manual and CGI cutscenes added to that version.
The name "Star Control" is a registered trademark in the United States. It is registered for use with "computer game software, and manuals supplied as a unit therewith."
While Toys For Bob itself holds the rights to the Star Control games it created, Atari remains the owner of the Star Control trademark. It is because of this that the Open Source release of Star Control II is named The Ur-Quan Masters, which was the subtitle to the original release.
In September 2007, Atari has renewed the registration of the Star Control trademark. To do this, they needed to show recent use of the trademark in commerce. In their application they did this by including graphics of a simple Flash game assumed to be created just days earlier.
It is likely that this would not be enough if the trademark were to be challenged. See 15 USC §1127:
- A mark shall be deemed to be abandoned [...] When its use has been discontinued with intent not to resume such use. Intent not to resume may be inferred from circumstances. Nonuse for 3 consecutive years shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment. Use of a mark means the bona fide use of such mark made in the ordinary course of trade, and not made merely to reserve a right in a mark.
However, in April 2011, Atari put the Star Control games up for sale on Good Old Games. This could be considered sufficient use in commerce to re-secure the trademark.
On July 24, 2013, Stardock Entertainment purchased Atari's Star Control IP assets.