In case you were thinking of getting on the bandwagon and using
the Star Wars theme (or anything slightly related to Star Wars) in
connection with your business, think carefully. Lucasfilm Limited,
which was purchased by Disney in 2012 for a reported $US4.05bn, is
well known for fiercely protecting its IP, Boba Fett style. Here
are some of our favourite Lucas actions taken to date:
In 1985, Lucas (unsuccessfully) sued a company that was working
with the US Government on researching and funding space-based laser
missiles and battlestations. The media had dubbed the initiative
the "Star Wars" project, a term the Company started to
use as shorthand for the initiative.
In 2000, one day after Dr Dre demanded that Napster remove all
of his songs from their service because it infringed his copyright
– a division of Lucas sued him for copyright infringement of
their THX "Deep Note" sound in one of his tracks. The
good Dr settled the action for an undisclosed sum.
In 2001, Lucas (unsuccessfully, after an appeal) sued the UK
prop designer who made the stormtrooper helmet used in the original
1977 film for copyright infringement because he was selling, years
later, replica helmets on his website.
In 2001, Lucas (unsuccessfully) sued the makers of Starballz,
an animated, hentaiinspired Star Wars parody porn movie, alleging
that consumers could be confused into thinking that Lucas sponsored
or produced the X-rated film. The producers of Starballz thought
that was so funny they filed a $140 million countersuit for
In 2010, Lucas sued a small US tech company, Jedi Mind
technology, asserting that Lucas owned "all characteristics
associated with the Jedi knights not memorialised in a registered
trade mark (including) Jedi robes, the lightsaber weapon, the power
to levitate objects, a telepathic oneness with other Jedi and the
universe, and the ability to shoot energy beams called 'Force
Lightning' from the fingertips." The Company eventually
agreed to change its name to put an end to the dispute.
Finally, and most disappointingly, Lucas gave its best Yoda
frown to a number of fans who initiated crowd-funding initiatives
to build a life size AT-AT walker, the Death Star and a fleet of
X-wing fighters. They said much to learn you still have IP
infringers! A little bit of creative appropriation (a much nicer
term than IP infringement, we think) is not such a bad thing, but
there are some empires you really don't want to annoy.
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The Ugg boots case revolves around who holds the trade mark rights to the word 'Ugg' in relation to sheepskin boots.
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