too bad it’s wrong. Much of the information below can be found in Task Force Games’ Nexus magzine; the rest is from designers’ notes in the various SFU products
The rights holders to Star Trek were Desilu Studios.
They licensed the Tech Manual to Franz Joseph Schnaubelt, DBA Frans Joseph Designs (FJD), in about 1972. License at the time didn’t disallow sublicenses (neither the FJD license nor California law, under which it was executed.)
Stephen V Cole (SVC) wrote what would grow to SFB in a simulations class in college. Everyone else seemed going for the computer, so he, an avid wargamer, wrote a game instead… and his classmates got hooked.
SVC wrote several games for Task Force Games. He dusted off the simulation he had written, expanded it out (ISTR late 1976), secured a license from FJD, and it was published in 1979. He found it based upon the Gamescience License for Star Fleet Battle Manual, which was essentially a licensed version of the unlicensed Star Trek Battle Manual of about 1975… and had been C&D’d by Desilu for use of Trademark without license. (Source - an interview with Lou Zocchi I read in the late 90’s; proof that licensing was not being ignored)
The early 1979 Pocket Edition had the Fed DN, CA, CL, DD, SC, Klingon D6/D7, Romulan Warbird, War Eagle, and KR (Romulan D6); Kzinti CS and CL, and the Base Station (K7 type)
It’s important to note: SVC got his license about the time Paramount bought Desilu. Paramount didn’t deep dive when the money kept at or above minimum expectations. They wouldn’t take notice until ST:TNG, tho’… because their own licensee, FASA, exceeded the license for STRPG. It’s also worth noting that FASA was clear that they were not licensed to use FJD material (nor SFB material) … hence their versions of the SFTM ships use different strut configurations.
Also, around this time, SVC, doing business as Amarillo Design Bureau, was expanding the timeline later… and larger ships with bigger crews, and much better systems, were in print and playtest. (Commander’s Edition included X-ships - higher tech ships - the Fed XCA is a good stand-in for the Excelsior. The X2CC is released roughly the same time as TNG starts… and is clearly similarly capable.
Paramount goes off on ALL the licensees. Meanwhile, TFG is going under, and the properties it holds sold off; SVC gets back SFB; Starfire, his other space combat game, gets spawned off to Marvin Lamb, DBA Starfire Design Studio. SVC prevails in court, and the settlement is a direct and non-time-limited license to only TOS/TAS.
Paramount won against FASA, establishing that STTNG is a separate IP from TOS and from TAS.
It’s important to note that SVC has ALWAYS been careful to avoid exceeding his cash-cow license. It definitely looks like Paramount was aware of SFB, tho’… the ships in ST II: TWOK are functionally almost identical to the older SFB NCL and CC. designs from 1980-81, and the STIII: TSFS Klingon BoP is functionally the 1981-82 era G2 Police Ship, the Grissom is a clear GSC parallel.
Further, the battles in ST III can be replicated in SFB rules, as an article in Nexus shows…
The ST II battle, it also can be done with SFB rules. The 3D vs 2D is a legendary captain bluff.
The thing is, the SFU was developed specifically to facilitate wargames… the feds are less passive (still not shoot first, but also not pacifists). Numbers of ships are kept lower to facilitate being able to play out the war in F&E.
It’s comparable to the Kelvin Timeline - close enough to be recognizable, but clearly not the same universe.