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Star Control creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche are attempting to raise $2 million through a GoFundMe campaign to defend themselves against Stardock, which is suing the pair for trademark infringement.
The legal skirmish began in December 2017 after Ford and Reiche accused Stardock of publishing and profiting from their Star Control titles without proper permission.
Stardock acquired the rights to the Star Control series from Atari in an auction back in 2013, but Ford and Reiche claimed Atari forfeited the rights to the franchise a decade before the auction took place, and believe "Stardock has zero rights to our games."
The situation escalated when Ford and Reiche began working on Ghosts of the Precursors, a new project they pitched as a direct sequel to Star Control I and Star Control II.
Stardock took issue with that assertion, and subsequently sued them for trademark infringement. The company is now also attempting to strip Ford and Reiche of credit as creators of the original game.
The duo are attempting to defend themselves against the lawsuit, but estimate their legal fees could cost an estimated $2 million.
"In 2013 the corporation purportedly bought a few Star Control assets at a bankruptcy auction, but importantly not our games or creative work. Shortly after the auction, Brad Wardell contacted us to see if we would help him make a new Star Control game, or at least license our creative work to Stardock," reads the duo's Gofundme page.
"We gave a clear 'no' to both offers, because we wanted to preserve our creative work for our own projects. For the next four years Brad Wardell repeatedly asked to license the original material, and each time we rejected him, Brad assured us Stardock would never ever use any of our material without permission. These assurances turned out to be false."
With things heating up, Ford and Reiche have kept fans in the loop by posting legal documents such as proposed settlement agreements on their personal website, and have implored their followers to help stop a corporate publisher from "bullying two lone developers into surrendering their most treasured game, characters and unique universe."
Stardock, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with the development of its own addition to the sci-fi adventure series, Star Control: Origins, and has told Game Informer it isn't attempting to quash Ford and Reiche's project, but is simply focused on protecting its trademark.
"Stardock not acquiescing to Fred and Paul being able to call their game 'a sequel to Star Control' is not tantamount to Stardock preventing them from making their game," explained the studio, adding it has been "consistently clear" about its ownership of the Star Control trademark.
"Since Ford and Reiche were contracted developers for the original Star Control, they ultimately never owned any rights to the Star Control trademark."