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George Lucas loses bid to ban sales of replica storm trooper helmets

Lucas loses bid to ban replicas

Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday defeated a bid by George Lucas' company to stop a prop designer making and selling replicas of the iconic storm trooper helmets from the Star Wars films. The court did, however, prevent him from selling them in the United States.

Andrew Ainsworth sculpted the white helmets worn by the sinister galactic warriors in the original Star Wars film in 1977, and now sells replica costumes, made from the original molds, over the Internet. Lucasfilm Ltd. has been trying for years to stop him, in a battle that has climbed through the British courts.

Lucasfilm's lawyers argued that the storm trooper suits are sculptures and therefore works of art covered by British copyright law. Two lower courts ruled in 2008 and 2009 that the costumes were props, not artworks, and so covered by a much shorter copyright period that has now expired.

The country's highest court on Wednesday upheld those decisions. The panel of five judges said "it was the Star Wars film that was the work of art that Mr. Lucas and his companies created. The helmet was utilitarian in the sense that it was an element in the process of production of the film."

But the judges agreed with Lucasfilm's lawyers — and a lower court — that Ainsworth had violated Lucas' copyright in the United States by selling costumes there.

Ainsworth, 62, said he was delighted.

"I am proud to report that in the English legal system David can prevail against Goliath if his cause is right," he said. "If there is a Force, then it has been with me these past five years."

— Associated Press

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George Lucas loses bid to ban sales of replica storm trooper helmets 07/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 9:01pm]
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