Stormtroopers, Star Wars

20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Ltd.

George Lucas got a split decision in his personal clone war.

The Jedi mastermind had dispatched his underlings to London to shut down Andrew Ainsworth, a designer of the original Imperial Stormtrooper helmet who was offering unauthorized versions of the classic headgear on the Web to fanboys.

For his part, Ainsworth claimed he dreamed up the concept and should be allowed to sell his wares.

With an array of Stormtrooper helmets lined up along the front bench in the London courtroom, High Court Justice Anthony Mann ruled in both parties' favor Thursday.

Mann determined that Ainsworth did indeed violate Lucas' U.S. copyright on the Stormtrooper uniform by selling look-alike costumes online to customers in the United States.

Mann also denied Ainsworth's claim that he held the U.K. copyright to the white-clad character and was entitled to a cut of the some $24 billion in merchandising revenue Lucasfilm has collected from the six Star Wars films.

However, the jurist also refused to uphold a $20 million judgment Lucas won in California against Ainsworth's Sheperton Design Studios, saying the amount the kitsch enthusiast made from peddling his wares overseas out of his Twickenham prop shop—$50,000 to $60,000, with some suits selling for as much as $3,600—wasn't enough to make him vulnerable to American jurisdiction.

"We won," Lucasfilm's lawyer, Mark Owen, told reporters after the dual decisions were handed down. "At the end of the day, there is an order that Mr. Ainsworth infringed our copyright, and the next stage of the case will be discussing remedies for that."

Meanwhile, Ainsworth's attorney, Seamus Andrew, said the ruling meant that his client could sell his light-saber-resistant getups anywhere except the States.

Further hearings remain a possibility in case either side wanted to appeal today's ruling.

A rep for Lucasfilm had testified earlier this year that the production company's own team of artists had crafted the Stormtrooper look—"one of the most iconic images in modern artistry"—from an idea that originated with Lucas, per Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Ainsworth, meanwhile, was said to have cast more than 50 of the costumes for the original Star Wars, which was released in 1977.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.