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Legal Troopers 

Wednesday, Jan 31 2007
A long time ago —or maybe last week— in a land far, far away —or a federal court in San Jose— a Marin-based film empire used the best lawyers the Force™ could buy to put a little Maryland company out of the lightsaber™ business. OK, putting aside the obvious Star Wars™ allusion, we're talking about last week's settlement between Lucasfilm Ltd. and High-Tech Magic, which agreed to stop selling lightsaber™ knockoffs.

You may have read about that, but you probably didn't get to see the lawsuit itself, which was written more like a press release in some places to massage the ego of director George Lucas™ or simply promote the company the lawyer was getting paid by: "Lucasfilm Ltd. is one of the most celebrated film and entertainment companies in the world, producing some of the most famous motion pictures ever created. ... Lucasfilm Ltd. is the producer of the epic Star Wars film series, the creation of writer-producer George Lucas. Ever since the Star Wars film premiered in 1977, the Star Wars saga has been a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Star Wars broke all box office records and spawned a series of five more feature films, each of which is among the highest grossing motion pictures in United States box office history."

The self-congratulatory legal brief continues, "Over the course of three decades, the Star Wars motion pictures have transported audiences to exotic planets where good and evil engage in an epic struggle to control the universe."

As in, Lucasfilm has been known to sue anyone it believes is cutting into its aftermarket profits. Last October, for instance, Lucasfilm won $20 million from a company that was selling pirated stormtrooper™ and other helmets.

We decided to see what the geeks on (not to be confused with those nerds at the were saying on the message boards, and one poster made this interesting point: Lucas' "legal troopers" only care if someone cuts into the profits from licensed products like lightsabers. But if someone tried to market something no licensed manufacturer will touch, like an Ewok Battle Wagon, Lucasfilm probably wouldn't care.

"Paramount, on the other hand," the poster opines, "used to sue anybody that used Trek anywhere."

True that, my friend. Those Trekkies are such ruthless assholes.

About The Author

Will Harper


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