Legal Star Wars: The Franchise in Court

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 23, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise hits theaters in December and the answer is no, we couldn't be any more excited. There's something in the George Lucas's universe for everyone* but many people feel like taking pieces of Star Wars without asking. And Lucas and his company Lucasfilm have been all too happy to sue over unauthorized use of images and names from the franchise.

Here are a few of the most notorious Star Wars lawsuits:

The Evil Empire?

Maybe the most notorious lifting of the Star Wars name was from none other than Ronald Reagan himself. The former president (and Hollywood actor) created a Strategic Defense Initiative aimed at funding space-based laser missiles and battle-stations. The brainchild of Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham and his High Frontier group, the project quickly got the "Star Wars" moniker applied to it.

Lucas sued for trademark infringement, but the United States District Court ruled that "when politicians, newspapers and the public generally use the phrase Star Wars for convenience, in parody or descriptively to further a communication of their views on SDI."

These Are Not the Droids You're Looking For

R2-D2 and C-3PO were some of the most beloved and central characters from the original Star Wars and are as responsible for putting the word "droid" into the national lexicon as any other source. Lucas loved them as well, which is why he trademarked the term in 2008, and sends cease and desist letters to startups using "droid" in their name.

As for Verizon Wireless, whose phones are based on the Android operating system, and the Motorola phone called the Droid, those companies are using the term under a license from Lucasfilm.

Jedi Mind Tricks?

A wireless headset that uses conscious and non-conscious brainwaves to allow users to play games, run software, and use other computer applications sounds pretty cool. After all, it's reminiscent of Jedis moving objects and controlling thoughts with just their minds. You may even want to give it a cool name, like Jedi Mind. But you might want to think again.

Lucas sued Jedi Mind, Inc. for $5 million over their headset, after the company said they'd phase out the name. So if you've ever doubted Lucas's commitment to litigation to protect his pet universe, you should know that the legal force is strong with this one.

*Except for Jar Jar Binks; no one likes Jar Jar.

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