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Highest UK Court Rules Replica ''Star Wars'' Stormtrooper Helmets Did Not Infringe on Plaintiffs' Copyright But Allows Plaintiff to Sue in the UK Over Infringement of Foreign Copyr

Monday, August 1, 2011
Manyee Chow | Bloomberg Law Lucasfilm Limited v. Ainsworth, [2011] UKSC 39, (UK Supreme Court, July 27, 2011) The UK Supreme Court ruled that Lucasfilm Limited, the production company responsible for all the "Star Wars" films, failed to provide sufficient proof that its Imperial Stormtrooper helmets were sculptures protectable under copyright law and that their copyright was infringed by defendant's replicas which were made from the original molds. However, the Court ruled that Lucasfilm may bring proceedings in UK courts to sue for infringement of its U.S. copyrights. Summary of Facts Lucasfilm and two subsidiaries own the copyright in the artistic works created for the "Star War" movies, and have built an empire selling and licensing characters from the franchise. George Lucas conceived the characters and storyline for "Star Wars" between 1974 and 1976. During pre-production in the UK, his vision of the Imperial Stormtroopers in "fascist white-armoured suits" was conveyed to artist Ralph McQuarrie, freelance prop-maker Nick Pemberton, and defendant Andrew Ainsworth, who produced vacuum-moldings in plastic, to give "visual expression" to the character. Lucasfilm at

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