GSC Game World and bitComposer in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Ownership Spat

German publisher yesterday claims brand ownership - GSC contests.

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GSC Game World and bitComposer in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Ownership Spat
Who owns S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Yesterday, German publisher bitComposer apparently claimed that it picked up the rights to the game series - but today that was contested by Ukranian outfit GSC Game World which says that it still retains sole ownership of the brand.

The confusion arose when bitComposer issued a press release that stated that it acquired the rights to future games in the series, following the death of Roadside Picnic co-author Boris Strugatsky. Roadside Picnic is the novel that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is based on.

GSC Game World has published three S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games to date, and isn't entirely happy that another company is claiming ownership. Sales and marketing spokesperson Eugene Kuchma attempted to set the record straight with Gamasutra.

"In view of the rumors appearing in press, we find it necessary to inform that GSC Game World and Sergey Grigorovich [GSC CEO] remain to be the sole owners of all the intellectual property rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series and the brand overall, including all the trademarks, the game universe, the technology etc. This can be easily verified with the trademark services online."

The statement added that many companies have claimed "brand purchase" of the license on the Internet, and that such claims are simply a testament to the IP's "exceptional popularity." According to Kuchma, even the intention of making a game based on the Roadside Picnic novel counts as a continuation of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise.

"We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by BitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies," the statement concluded.

bitComposer is adamant that it has acquired the rights, however, issuing a counter statement that reads, "We hold the license for PC and video games from the Strugatsky brothers. The owner of the license was the Strugatsky brothers. As far as we know, GSC never had the license for S.T.A.L.K.E.R."

We can see this one getting ugly a mile off. Who has the popcorn?

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