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Will the Supreme Court feel the force?

11 March 2011

Lucasfilm’s epic battle with prop designer Andrew Ainsworth continues. Mr Ainsworth built the original plastic stormtrooper helmets back in 1977, working from a two-dimensional design. He then went on to sell both original and replicas of the now iconic stormtrooper helmets to customers.

It is accepted by both parties that the two-dimensional drawings are copyright works. Whether the three-dimensional helmets are protected by copyright depends on whether LucasFilm can convince the Supreme Court that they should be interpreted as “sculptures” under the Copyright and Patents Act 1988.

Whether the helmet is found to be a sculpture is of critical importance to LucasFilm. If it is then it may receive the full term of protection for an artistic work – 70 years from the death of the author.

LucasFilm has failed in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Will it be third time lucky? The odds are stacked against them.

The saga continues…

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