Stormtrooper helmet designer defeats George Lucas in court battle
In a landmark copyright case, original Stormtrooper helmet designer Andrew Ainsworth has emerged victorious over George Lucas, being allowed to continue manufacturing replicas in the UK.
Ainsworth argued that he wasn't creating artistic works, which have a different type of copyright law applied to them. Instead he said they were functional products, exempting them from full UK copyright law.
The case went all the way to the supreme court and resulted in Ainsworth being able to continue manufacturing the helmets, some of which he sells for up to £1800. "This is a massive victory, a total victory, we've already got the champagne out." Ainsworth told the BBC.
Things look slightly different in the US however, where the court ruled the director's copyright had been violated. Ainsworth went to court out of a matter of principle, explaining that he didn't want Lucas to be able to "buy his soul".
"I am proud to report that in the English legal system David can prevail against Goliath if his cause is right. If there is a force, then it has been with me these past five years." he said.
Lucasfilm sued him back in 2004 over intellectual property rights for £12 million. The problem was that Ainsworth had no assets in the US so the case moved to the UK.
Despite being about Star Wars, the case actually has important legal ramifications. Currently any works not considered sculptures lose their copyright after 15 years, including these 3D Stormtrooper heads. This means other 3D props designed in the UK will be subject to similar treatment.
A Lucasfilm spokesperson explained how the company felt about the decision: "Lucasfilm remains committed to aggressively protecting its intellectual property rights relating to Star Wars in the UK and around the globe."