Regular readers of the IP Whiteboard may recall a post in 2009 about a dispute between Star Wars creator George Lucas and Andrew Ainsworth. Ainsworth created the original Imperial Stormtrooper uniform of white armour which seemed to provide remarkably little protection to any and all weapons, including Ewoks wielding stones. That post is available here.
In 2004 Ainsworth commenced making stormtrooper costumes again, which he would sell to dedicated Star Wars fans. Lucas sued, arguing that the works were protected by copyright, and Ainsworth’s reproductions infringed Lucas’ copyright in the product. Lucas was unsuccessful in both the High Court of England and Wales and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and has now appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the highest court in the land, seeking a ruling that these costumes, rather then being practical costumes that merely identify a character, are in fact artistic works and are as such protected by copyright. A herd of international film directors, such as Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson, are supporting Lucas’ appeal, which will be heard by the Supreme Court this week.
A copy of the UK Court of Appeal decision can be found here.