Stormtrooper Copyright War

The Star Wars Stormtrooper case is over. I wrote about the origins of the case in April last year. The conflict was between George Lucas (the man behind the Star Wars films) and Andrew Ainsworth the costume designer behind the white stormtrooper uniforms.

The British prop designer who created their famous white helmets and body armour is being sued by director George Lucas for £10m in a case starting at the high court tomorrow. Andrew Ainsworth was sued by the director’s company, Lucasfilm, after reproducing the outfits from the original moulds and selling them for up to £1,800 each. (The Force)

The fact that Ainsworth makes the helmets from the original moulds should not mean anything since the right to make copies does not follow the ownership of the moulds. However in the absence of a contract to resolve this question the fact that the designer was allowed (if he was?) to keep his moulds should weigh in his favor. What a lovely case – I can’t wait to hear what the courts decide. More on this available at TimesOnline.
Well the courts have decided in favor of Andrew Ainsworth. MSNBC reports that

…London’s High Court last year ruled that Ainsworth had violated Lucas’s U.S. copyright, but rejected a copyright claim against him under British law, saying the costumes were not works of art and were therefore not covered by British copyright law.

The judge also refused to enforce in Britain a $20 million judgment Lucasfilm won against Ainsworth in a California court in 2006, saying Ainsworth’s U.S. sales were not significant enough to make him susceptible to U.S. jurisdiction.

Last month, Lucasfilm took the matter to the Court of Appeal, but in a ruling Wednesday the judges turned the company down.

Update: At Last… The 1709 Copyright Blog has a clear oversight of the whole affair.

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