Back in April we learned that George Lucas was trying to solidify his control over the Star Wars universe by suing the guy who designed the stormtrooper costumes for the original film. Andrew Ainsworth had been selling replicas of the costumes to fans, some of whom were apparently paying over $2,000 apiece. LucasFilm won a copyright-infringment battle against Ainsworth in California, and is now approaching the main rebel base in England to enforce the judgment and crush the resistance once and for all.
Though he had been expected to end the case one way or another, judge Anthony Mann (who the report referred to as “Mr. Justice Mann”) issued a split decision recently. He agreed that Ainsworth had infringed LucasFilm’s copyright, but refused to enforce the U.S. judgment against him in England because of jurisdictional issues. He also found that the English copyright on the design had expired, which the rebel forces said made them free to sell everywhere except the U.S. But Mr. Justice Mann also rejected Ainsworth’s counterclaim for a share of the billions in marketing revenue earned by LucasFilm.
Since each side lost on something, both sides claimed victory. “At the end of the day,” said LucasFilm lawyer Mark Owen, “there is an order that Mr. Ainsworth infringed our copyright, and the next stage of the case will be discussing remedies for that.” That will take place at a hearing in the fall (Episode IV: A New Hope for Copyright-Infringement Remedies) at which the possibility of appeal will also be discussed.
Stormtroopers in full armor had attended the proceedings in April, although they were only mannequins. According to one report, the judge expressed some concern about them remaining in the courtroom for the duration of the case, but LucasFilm’s attorney pointed out that they were not likely to disturb anyone. “They are not going to rustle their papers and they don’t have telephones,” he said.
They may or may not have been allowed to hang around to intimidate rebel sympathizers, but they did at least make an appearance for the court’s ruling. A selection of stormtrooper helmets were lined up on the bench as Mr. Justice Mann read his decision.