Thursday, April 17, 2008

AA versus GL

It's all over the news lately, and inevitably friends and co-workers will ask us Star Wars fans if we have been following the story. British propmaker Andrew Ainsworth, the man who produced the original Stormtrooper armor (as well as some other costume parts) for Lucasfilm back in the mid-1970s is being sued in British High Court for making and selling replica Star Wars helmets and armor through his site Shepperton Design Studios. This is the second case LFL has brought against AA---the first was a 2006 case resulting in a California court awarding Lucasfilm $20 million in damages. Ainsworth claims that he is producing props "from the original moulds" (British spelling) but this is a hot topic amongst serious replica prop fans like those on the RPF, who argue that AA is speaking in half-truths, and that many parts of the armor have been reconstructed to fill in for broken or missing components (some mention of this on the SDS site). Furthermore, Ainsworth claims to be the original sculptor of some pieces, and therefore the artist who holds the rights to further produce the props. This point is now in debate as some photos of prototype clay sculpts are supposedly being brought as evidence against SDS. My personal take is that anyone who has the potential for financial gain based upon the popularity of Star Wars should have stepped up a long time ago (like 30 years ago) to ensure they maintained their intellectual property rights. I also think that Ainsworth, like other propmakers, could have continued his operation if he kept it on the down-low without placing advertisements and opening a full-blown website complete with pricing. Why put Lucasfilm in a position where they are forced to take action against you? I'm no law student, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall of these courtroom proceedings if just to see the surreal sight of a line-up of original Stormtrooper, TIE Pilot, Navy Trooper, Death Star Gunner, Rebel Fleet Trooper and Tusken Raider masks in front of judge and jury (see if you can pick them out of the court artist rendering above). You can also click here for miscellaneous media coverage. An odd side effect is the media's lack of relevant Stormtrooper imagery which has resulted in a lot of 501st members getting pictured in the news lately.


berangere said...


I am french and I attended two days of the trial.I really would like to know the judgement but I didn't find it anywhere.All the websites talk about the beginning of the judgment but there is nothing about the end.This is why I wanted to ask you if you know where I could find it?

Thank very much in advance

I'm looking forward to reading your answer

TK-899 said...

Hello berangere, your answer just came a few days ago. LFL was victorious in the UK lawsuit. I'll make a post now. :-)

SESSEME said...

Hey tk-899

Just got an email from Andrew and he’s says quote "The court case came OK for us///Lucas just made a load of biased publicity…but at the end of the day he will have to pay the court costs." Not to sure what it means (if he won or lost) but it sounds as if he's not that put out about it....
Look like we can still get the original and best TK armour and helmets ooooh yea!!!!

Anonymous said...

It was a mixed result.

Lucas wanted the UK to enforce the USA ruling that AA owes him $20 million. -- Not going to happen. England doesn't do that.

The other issue was copyright.
IF it was art, then the copyright is forever or something like that. But the court ruled is was a prop to make a movie. Thus it's copyright limit is 25 years. (Which meant it was over before AA began selling.)

What now?
AA can legally still make and sell the stormtroopers uniforms, BUT he can't sell them to the USA.

- By Trying2.

You can google this as I did.