Like Senator Palpatine before it, Lucasfilm Limited is trying to exterminate the Jedi. Star Wars’s parent company filed a lawsuit against three “Jedi academies” across the country — New York Jedi, the Lightsaber Academy, and Thrills and Skills — over intellectual property rights for, but not limited to, the terms “Jedi” and “lightsaber.”
Actually, the Disney subsidiary is slapping the owner and operator of all three “academies,” Michael Brown, with complaints of “trademark infringement,” “unfair competition,” “dilution,” and “cybersquatting” through both national and California laws.
“Defendants own and operate businesses that advertise and sell ‘Lightsaber’ classes and ‘Lightsaber’ teaching certifications as well as patches, apparel, and other products and services that use Plaintiffs’ distinctive elements and logos intentionally and without authorization,” the formal complaint says.
The Walt Disney Company, which took in a revenue of $52.46 billion in 2015, gained control of Lucasfilm in 2012. Meanwhile, Brown’s businesses have been around since 2005 and are just now picking up public attention from the lawyers over at Lucasfilm. And that’s gotta suck.
Brown had, according to the formal complaint, received “multiple” cease and desist orders from Lucasfilm.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines [intellectual property as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.”
The U.S. government tends to take intellectual property rights — patents, copyrights, and trademarks — rather seriously. But there are precedents and technicalities to take into consideration, all of which are rather jargon-y and focused on the decisions of past intellectual property cases.
One of the most recent, public disputes that Lucasfilm got in to was in 2011 before it was acquired by Disney. Lucasfilm Limited v. Ainsworth, which took place in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, was about the design rights versus copyright protection of stormtrooper costumes and whether or not model maker Andrew Ainsworth could sell them. The court ruled in Ainsworth’s favor, partly due to foreign intellectual property rights.
That’s certainly not the only lawsuit Lucasfilm has gotten itself involved in. See: that time they sued the X-rated anime film, Starballz, or that time George Lucas kinda sorta sued the U.S. government and President Ronald Reagan over the term “Star Wars,” which was ruled as being a part of the “public lexicon.” Trust us, we could go on for a while, but we’ll stop there.
For the time being, the three aforementioned “academies” seem to be the only ones on Lucasfilm’s radar, although they certainly aren’t the only lightsaber schools out there.
This all acts as a solid reminder that, while Star Wars and other forms of entertainment are really fun, we also live in a real world that has real consequences.