Lucas takes designer to court over helmet

Last Updated: Mar 07, 2011, 17:07 PM IST

London: Film director George Lucas has made an attempt to take a British designer to court over copyright issues involving the making of replicas of `The Star Wars` helmets.

Lucas, 66, wants to stop designer Andrew Ainsworth, who made the first replica helmets, from continuing to make and sell them, and his film company Lucasfilm is claiming that he is breaching copyright.

Ainsworth, from Twickenham, is arguing that he made the original helmets, seen in the film, based on 2D artwork before eventually perfecting the design and creating a further 50 helmets and other body armour.

He then began selling the helmets in 2004 to fans attending fancy-dress parties.

After some of the items sold in the US, Lucasfilm successfully sued Ainsworth for 20 million dollars and tried to get the judgement enforced and establish copyright in the UK.

But the case was thrown out after judges in the High Court and the Appeal Court rejected the idea the helmets were the equivalent of sculptures and ruled that the items were industrial props rather than artworks.

Lucas is now taking his fight to the UK``s highest court to overturn the decision, and he has the support of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Jon Landau and Peter Jackson.
According to the Independent Sunday, Spielberg wrote in a letter, due to be submitted to this week’s hearing, that the court’s decision was wrong.

"The court was wrong in this case and has placed the UK at odds with the world community and, perhaps most disturbing, the creative community," a daily quoted him as having written.

"This ruling must be reversed," he stated.

But Ainsworth insisted that had he originally created it.
"The copyright for three-dimensional work is invested in me but I didn’t do anything about it for 30 years, as English people don’t," he said.

"We won in the High Court and the Appeal Court, but he has got so much money he can convince the Supreme Court it’s got to be done again.

"What he is after is to change the law, to change European law," Ainsworth added.

A Lucasfilm spokeswoman added: "These works of art should receive the full protection of UK copyright law, just as they do in the rest of the world."