Lucasfilm sole owner of Stormtrooper design
British justice rules in favor of entertainment co.A British justice ruled Thursday that Lucasfilm is the sole owner of the iconic Stormtrooper costume designs -- not a plastics manufacturer who was hired in 1976 to reproduce designs created by a team of Lucasfilm artists.
Andrew Ainsworth, a principal of Shepperton Design Studios, had claimed he created the designs and reproduced Stormtrooper helmets for sale. Ainsworth had sculpted the helmets for the first "Star Wars" film.
High Court judge Anthony Mann ruled that Ainsworth violated Lucasfilm's U.S. copyrights by selling the helmets to customers in the U.S.
Mann, however, also ruled that in Britain, the English copyrights for the outfits had expired. Ainsworth's attorney, Seamus Andrew, said the ruling meant his client can sell the helmets anywhere but in the U.S.
Lucasfilm initially sued Ainsworth in California and obtained a $20 million judgment. However, Mann refused to enforce the judgment in Britain, finding that Ainsworth's U.S. sales, which totaled $50,000-$60,000, was not significant enough for U.S. jurisdiction.
Since "Star Wars" hit the screens in 1977, Lucas has aggressively sought out copyright infringers selling illegal products based on the film series.
In 2006, Lucasfilm successfully sued to stop Maryland-based High-Tech Magic Co. from selling replica lightsabers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.