Star Control is a spectacularly designed game. But that's not the same as being THE creators of it. [...] If Fred did all the programming and Paul did virtually all the rest then I think they'd have a much better claim on the phrase "THE creators".
I think this may be stretching the argument a bit further than it really should be. Colloquially, at least to me, I don't think that "Creator" requires that someone had no help or outside inspiration in making the work; it just means that they were the primary guiding and driving force in its creation. Moreover:
What I can and will say is that Paul and Fred created both of those games. It was really the two of them, and others like me and Erol and whomever just contracted and did bits and pieces under Paul's direction. This Universe, Story, Characters and Gameplay all come from the amazing mind of Paul.
That's enough for them to qualify as "The Creators" in my book. I suppose others could draw the lines in different places, but equating "Creator" with "Sole Creator" seems like splitting hairs, and outside normal parlance.
If the other people who were there are good with P&F calling themselves "The Creators of Star Control", then, IMHO, Stardock is stepping out-of-bounds when it steps in and tries to create a distinction about "Creators" 25 years later.
Referring to P&F as the designers of the game only, apparently, became a great offense in the past few months. Prior to that, that was the title they went by. What changed? I think we know exactly what changed. They want to imply that Ghosts of the Precursors will have the same magic that Star Control had by giving the impression that "the creators" of Star Control are on it.
I agree it's pedantic. Stardock isn't the one who made a public issue of it.
My impression, which you are welcome to rebut, is that nobody cared whether P&F called themselves "Designers" or "Creators" until Stardock's lawyer disputed the usage in Stardock's complaint (paragraph #49). I presume that the lawyer's intent in doing so was because "Creators" has legal significance to copyright ownership, and they wanted to try to delegitimize Paul's copyright claim.
As a legal tactic, I understand this. If SC2 was worked on by Accolade employees, or by outside workers without any copyright assignment, it could really muddy the waters, giving Stardock a legal advantage; you didn't know the Accolade contract details at that time. But when those details came out in Paul's counterclaim, they strongly supported his sole claim to the copyright; the other contributors appear to have been subcontracted by Paul, not directly employed by Accolade, and presumably, although we haven't seen it, those subcontracts included a copyright assignment to Paul, which would make him the "Creator" from a legal standpoint as well as by colloquial use (IANAL, of course).
So IMHO, this whole "Creators" argument is a legal tactic from Stardock that is actively backfiring. IANAL, but I think that the Accolade contract language makes this claim unlikely to succeed in court, and Stardock is doing itself a huge amount of PR damage pushing the argument. You've been saying that this is all about the trademark, not the copyright, and you've got a much stronger argument there, so I hope that Stardock stops digging this hole deeper, and instead refocuses the discussion on the arguments where it has a stronger case.