"They were Darth Vader's feared henchmen and some of the most recognisable figures in cinematic history. Now the imperial stormtroopers of the Star Wars films are at the centre of a new epic battle.
The British prop designer who created their famous white helmets and body armour is being sued by director George Lucas for £10m in a case starting at the high court tomorrow. Andrew Ainsworth was sued by the director's company, Lucasfilm, after reproducing the outfits from the original moulds and selling them for up to £1,800 each.
Ainsworth is countersuing Lucasfilm for a share of the £6bn merchandising revenue generated since the first film in the series premiered in 1977. The row centres on who actually owns the copyright to the stormtrooper uniforms."
"Lucasfilm Ltd. and a British prop designer both claimed victory Thursday in a legal battle over the iconic Stormtrooper uniforms from the "Star Wars" films.
George Lucas's film company had sued Andrew Ainsworth, who sculpted the Stormtrooper helmets for the first "Star Wars" movie in 1977.
High Court judge Anthony Mann ruled that Ainsworth violated Lucasfilm's U.S. copyright by selling replica Stormtrooper uniforms through his Web site to customers in the United States.
But Mann refused to enforce in Britain a US$20 million judgment Lucasfilm won against Ainsworth in a California court in 2006. The judge said Ainsworth's U.S. sales, which totaled 25,000 to 30,000 pounds (US$50,000 to US$60,000), were not significant enough to make him susceptible to U.S. jurisdiction.
The judge also rejected a claim against Ainsworth under British law, saying English copyright over the outfits had expired. Ainsworth's lawyer, Seamus Andrew, said the ruling meant that Ainsworth was now free to sell his replicas everywhere except the United States.
However, in a win for Lucas' side, Mann also rejected a counterclaim by Ainsworth that copyright rested with him."
A hearing is to be scheduled in the fall to see where the case will go from here. The battle isn't over quite yet. Click here for the full article.