George Lucas Loses U.K. 'Star Wars' Copyright Case

Stormtrooper - Portrait - P - 1977
Lucasfilm Ltd

A prop designer who made the original Stormtrooper helmets for "Star Wars" has won a legal battle with the director over his right to sell replicas.

LONDON -- A prop designer who made the original Stormtrooper helmets for Star Wars has won his battle with director George Lucas over his right to sell replicas, according to the BBC .

Andrew Ainsworth, 62, of south London, successfully argued the costumes were functional not artistic works, and so not subject to full copyright laws.

Judges at the Supreme Court upheld a 2009 Court of Appeal decision allowing Mr Ainsworth to continue selling them.

But they also ruled that the director's copyright had been violated in the U.S., where Lucas has already won a case against him.

Mr Ainsworth told the BBC: "This is a massive victory, a total victory, we've already got the champagne out."

He said he went to court on a principle and he was not going to allow the director to "buy his soul."

The ruling about violating U.S. copyright was a moot point, he added, as all it meant was that he could not sell his outfits there, which he had already stopped doing.

A Lucasfilm spokesman said the court's decision maintained "an anomaly of British copyright law under which the creative and highly artistic works made for use in films... may not be entitled to copyright protection in the U.K."

The company said that protection would have been given in "virtually every other country in the world."

On the issue of the jurisdiction of U.K. courts over infringements abroad, the company said: "The judgment is an important step in modernizing U.K. law and bringing it into line with the EU."