'Star Wars' Card Game Sabacc Sparks Lawsuit From Lucasfilm

The fictional game plays an important role in the franchise canon and Lucasfilm says a video game app maker is unfairly capitalizing on its fame.
Lucasfilm Ltd./20th Century Fox/Photofest

As the latest Star Wars installment dominates the global box office, Disney's Lucasfilm is launching a legal fight over a card game app it says infringes on its trademarks in the sci-fi franchise.

Fans deeply familiar with Star Wars canon will remember that Han Solo won his famous ship, the Millennium Falcon, from Lando Calrissian in a card game called Sabacc. Lucasfilm says Ren Ventures sought to capitalize on that fandom by launching a Sabacc mobile game app right before the 2015 theatrical release of The Force Awakens.

"Defendants’ website, Facebook page, and other social media accounts all display copyrighted images from Star Wars motion pictures and television episodes and quote copyrighted dialogue from these works," writes attorney Cynthia Arato in the complaint. "They even named one of their companies, Ren Ventures, after the Star Wars The Force Awakens character Kylo Ren."

The game was originally written into the 1978 Empire Strikes Back screenplay as "Sabacca" and was changed to Sabacc in the 1980 novelization of the story. The first book in a trilogy about Calrissian explains the rules of the game. (Read the full description in the complaint, which is posted below.) 

Lucasfilm has used the Sabacc trademark in everything from card games and video games to comic books and live theme park experience, according to the complaint. 

"Prior to Defendants’ claimed 'first use' of the mark SABACC, in 2015, Plaintiffs publicly announced that Lucasfilm was developing a new motion picture focused on Han Solo as a young man," writes Arato. "Star Wars fans and any interested observer would expect that the pivotal game of Sabacc between Lando and Han would be part of the new movie. In fact, fans soon began to speculate about whether the movie would feature Sabacc."

Lucasfilm is suing for copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition, and is asking the court to order cancellation of Ren's trademark for Sabacc.