May the force (of trade mark law) be with you

George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) has recently wielded his legal light sabre at a US company which reportedly infringed “Jedi” trade mark/s.  The relevant US Code provision is § 1114, which relates to certain uses of a registered trade mark without consent where that use is “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive”. 

Lucas’s film companies own a number of registered “Jedi” trade marks in the US.  The defendant, Jedi Mind Inc, designs applications to be used with special headsets allowing users to interact with computers using their mind rather than their hands.  Jedi Mind reportedly referred to “Jedi”, including the “Jedi Mind trick”, in relation to some of these products (in the Star Wars movies Jedis could manipulate the minds of others). 

Interestingly, the latest reports (see here and here) indicate that Jedi Mind Inc has responded to the claim by changing its company name to Mind Technologies Inc and re-directing its website accordingly.  The new Mind Technologies Inc website doesn’t appear to make any “Jedi” references.  Whether the infringement claim will be dropped remains to be seen – ultimately it will depend on whether the plaintiff companies are satisfied with the defendant ceasing to (allegedly) infringe their trade marks or whether compensation will be sought.

This matter demonstrates the strength of brand protection afforded to a registered and well-known (some might say iconic) trade mark backed by an active plaintiff.

Meanwhile, while we are waiting to see if the court action will be dropped, it’s difficult not to be amazed that “mind reading” technology appears to no longer be a concept only possible in a galaxy far, far away….


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