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Lucasfilm sees that dark side of the Supreme Court

28 July 2011

A prop designer engaged by Lucasfilm to manufacture Stormtrooper helmets for the first Star Wars film has recently won his copyright battle to continue selling replicas in the UK.

The first issue addressed by the Supreme Court was to confirm that the Stormtrooper helmet was not a “sculpture” and therefore not an “artistic work”. Under English law, the helmets were therefore protected by design right (which has a shorter term of protection) and not by copyright.

The second issue was whether US copyright could be enforced in the English courts. Overturning the Court of Appeal’s finding on this issue, the Supreme Court held that it could. In a world of prolific cross-border trade and e-commerce this has to be the right decision, giving rights holders increased protection against international piracy.

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