Forum members of the fan site Relic News have today uncovered a US trademark document that appears to prove the rights to the Homeworld name have changed hands from Vivendi Universal to publisher THQ, the owner of original Homeworld developer Relic Entertainment.
Though only the trademark is mentioned, it would seem unlikely that THQ attained the name without also acquiring the license to use the intellectual property. The law firm now handling the trademark, Wolf Greenfield, specializes in IP transactions.
The document, which appoints a slew of new attorneys to represent Homeworld, is signed by THQ executive vice president of business and legal affairs James M. Kennedy. The transaction took place on August 14, 2007, with a similar transfer of the Homeworld: Cataclysm expansion trademark having been signed on the same day.
While the ties to THQ only appear on the most recent documents, Vivendi Universal lawyer Rod Rigole had transferred power of attorney to Douglas R. Wolf, the current Homeworld representative, way back in July 18 of 2006--indicating that some type of transaction may have occured over a year ago.
The Homeworld license had been owned by publisher Sierra Online--now a subsidiary of Vivendi--since it released Relic's debut game, the strategy series' first entry, in 1997. Relic was purchased by THQ for $10 million in May of 2004, and has since gone on to produce the critically acclaimed PC RTS titles Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (2004) and Company of Heroes (2006).
THQ has been investing more development effort in ambitious hardcore-oriented PC titles than most major publishers recently, with its acquisition of Relic and its release of games such as Iron Lore's Titan Quest, Gas Powered Games' Supreme Commander, and GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Homeworld puts players in control of a vast space fleet, allowing would-be admirals to move their ships on a fully-3D plane in real time. The first game was released on the PC in 1999, to critical and commercial success. The Homeworld: Cataclysm stand-alone expansion was subsequently developed by Barking Dog Studios, with Relic returning to the franchise in 2003 with Homeworld 2. Both games were published by Sierra.