Star Control: Origins has been pulled from Steam and GOG.com after Paul Reiche III and Robert Frederick Ford issued a DMCA takedown notice against the title.
Reiche and Ford are the designers behind the classic 1990 MS-DOS title Star Control 2, and have been engaged in a long-running legal dispute with Star Control: Origins maker Stardock over the trademarks and copyrights to Star Control.
Stardock claims it acquired the rights to the Star Control series from Atari back in 2013, but Reiche and Ford have suggested Atari actually gave up the rights to the franchise a decade before the sale took place.
The pair subsequently began working on a direct sequel to Star Control II called Ghosts of the Precursors, a move that resulted in Stardock suing both designers for trademark infringement while pushing ahead with the development of its own Star Control title.
Riche and Ford responded with a countersuit, and have now managed to strike another blow by issuing this DMCA.
Stardock attempted to get a preliminary art injunction to prevent Reiche and Ford from issuing more "false DMCA takedown notices," but the courts refused to intervene. As a result, Star Control: Origins is currently unavailable for purchase on both Steam and GOG, although anyone who's already bought the title should still be able to play.
In a lengthy post on the Steam forums, Stardock criticized Reiche and Ford for bypassing the legal system and jeopardizing the livelihood of its development team by issuing the "vague" notice.
"For those not familiar with copyright law, you cannot copyright ideas, individual or short phrases, concepts, mechanics, game designs, e.t.c.," wrote the developer. "Star Control: Origins is our own creation without relying on the work of Reiche or Ford. We spent 5 years working on it making it our own game.
"That said, time and time again we have requested, specifically, what elements in Star Control: Origins they think their copyright applies to. If the request wasn't onerous, we’d be willing to comply.
"Unfortunately, without the income from Star Control: Origins, Stardock will have to lay off some of the men and women who are assigned to the game. We will do our very best to continue to support the game and hopefully Star Control: Origins will return as soon as possible."