THE SUPREME COURT STRIKES BACK - Star Wars copyright saga continues

The Supreme Court yesterday began a three day hearing of Lucasfilm`s appeal against the earlier Court of Appeal decision in their dispute with designer Andrew Ainsworth (which we previously reported here ( The High Court and the Court of Appeal had found in Mr Ainsworth`s favour on the question of whether the Stormtrooper helmet that he had produced for the films was an artistic work - effectively a sculpture - and therefore entitled to the lengthy protection of copyright, or whether in fact - as Mr Ainsworth argued - they were more in the nature of "functional" designs only protected by the much shorter Unregistered Design Right. 

So far, so good for Mr Ainsworth, as the Court of Appeal had found the latter of these to be the case, agreeing with the first instance Judge and dismissing Lucasfilm`s appeal. 

However, Lucasfilm have now challenged this decision, and are expected to argue before the Supreme Court that this decision puts English law entirely at odds with the rest of the world on this question. This is a key issue for them as the other issue in dispute is Lucasfilm`s attempt to enforce in the UK a substantial award of damages given to them in parallel US litigation, which so far the English court decisions have frustrated. 

Whether this round of proceedings will represent "A New Hope" for the film makers remains to be seen.

Posted on: 08/03/2011

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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