A High Court judge here today found that British firm Shepperton Design Studios and its principal, Andrew Ainsworth, violated the U.S. copyrights of Lucasfilm Ltd. by making and selling pirated Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets and other costume replicas.
Today's ruling by Mr Justice Mann in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, affirmed that Lucasfilm is the sole owner of all rights to the iconic costume designs.
The court held that Ainsworth infringed Lucasfilm's rights when he reproduced the Stormtrooper helmet replicas and sold them under a false claim that he had created the designs, which were used in 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Ainsworth was a plastics manufacturer who was hired in 1976 to reproduce designs created by a team of Lucasfilm artists, including costume designer John Mollo, who won an Academy Award for his work on the film.
The court found that the factual claims made by Ainsworth and his company were neither accurate nor reliable, and rejected his counterclaims seeking a share of the profits from the films.
Lucasfilm brought the case to the British High Court following a 2006 judgment by a California court awarding Lucasfilm $20 million in damages resulting from Ainsworth's activities. The British court held that it could apply U.S. law to the matter and ruled in Lucasfilm's favor on the merits of the infringement case.
The court also held that Ainsworth infringed Lucasfilm's rights under UK copyright laws, but that a UK-specific law that limits the enforcement of copyrights in industrial designs applied to the facts in the case. Lucasfilm is considering whether to appeal the legal finding under the UK industrial design law.