1: [Stardock] even offered them the license at one point but they refused. Regardless they wanted PF to make their game and started talks with them to negotiate them not undercutting SC:Origins. To that end, they wanted them not to launch at the same time and were happy for PF to release under the name Urquan masters or buy the license to SC at cost.
2: Instead of agreeing to reasonable terms PF went nuclear and started DMCA's (which they will probably get fined for as their process for doing so was illegal)
Alright, I am going to jump in on this one. If people think I'm posting FUD, please give this an honest read, follow the links, see what's there, and really try to consider the evidence fairly, as though you were on a jury:
1) P&F didn't bid on the trademark in the first place because they weren't in a position to immediately start using it. Trademarks have to be used, or they become invalid. If P&F had bought the trademark, they would have had to quit their jobs at Activision to start work on a new Star Control - which could have meant breaching their contracts - or else their $300k purchase would have become worthless before they ever had the chance to use it.
2) A DMCA notice is a legal pop gun, not a nuclear bomb. They don't even involve a court. Web hosting sites process millions of them every day. It was just a sworn letter from P&F to the hosting site (Steam) saying that they owned the copyright to the original games and wanted them removed. All Stardock had to do (and eventually did) to counter it was send their own sworn letter to tell Steam that they disputed the notice. That's it - the games would then stay up, unless P&F went ahead and filed a lawsuit themselves to get them taken down. Stardock instead decided to take it as a casus belli, and went on to file a full-on lawsuit of its own - which is a legal nuclear bomb. Stardock may have had other reasons to decide to file the suit, but saying that the DMCA was 'nuclear', or that it forced them to sue is simply untrue.
And the suggestion that the DMCA would be illegal would only be correct if P&F had no copyright at all in the games. But let's look at the boxes:
Star Control I: "Game (C) 1990 Paul Reiche III & Fred Ford"
Star Control II: "Game (C) 1992 Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III"
Star Control III: "...based upon characters created and used under license from Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford"
It seems exceedingly unlikely that Accolade would have put those notices on the boxes if they didn't believe that Paul and Fred actually had the copyright to the games. And when P&F open-sourced the game, their copyright notice was all over the source code. If that's not enough, they've even posted their notebooks, where they started designing some of the races, screens, ships, and other elements. Yes, it may turn out that there wasn't some legal paperwork done, such that, for example, Greg Johnson ended up owning the copyright to the Orz. But Greg gave firsthand testimony on this forum that Fred and Paul were the primary people involved in creating SC2.
So we have clear evidence on the box that Accolade thought P&F owned the copyright. We have their copyright notice in the source code. We have contemporary physical evidence from the notebooks from when the games were created. And we have firsthand testimony from someone who was there.
Seriously, how much proof do you need, folks? What more proof could you reasonably ask for?