Thursday, 24 February 2011

Copyright storm troops to court!

The Stormtrooper helmet case to be heard at The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom.

Finally the long running saga as to who owns the intellectual property rights to the famed Star Wars stormtroopers helmet has finally made its way to The United Kingdom Supreme Court in London.

1) Lucasfilm Limited, 2) Star Wars Productions Limited, 3) Lucasfilm Entertainment Co Limited V 1) Andrew Ainsworth, 2) Shepperton Design Studios Limited

Issue: (1) What copyright protection is provided by English law to three-dimensional works (“Issue 1”). (2) Whether a claim that US copyright law has been infringed is justiciable in England (“Issue 2”).

Facts: During the preparation for the first Star Wars film a clay model of a helmet worn by stormtroopers was created. The First Respondent was asked to produce a final version made in plastic based on the clay model and various images, and he did so incorporating his own improvements using sculpting techniques. The First Respondent has admittedly made and sold copies of the helmet and armour worn by the stormtrooper characters. The appeal concentrates purely on the reproductions of the helmet design. It is accepted that the First Respondent has, in the eyes of US law, infringed various US copyrights owned by the Appellants. It is not
accepted that the US law should be enforced in the English courts.

The case is to be heard by five of the Supreme Court Justices and is listed to be heard for 3 days from 7 March 2011. The hearing is open to the public and will be heard in Courtroom 1.

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