LONDON (Reuters) - A British prop designer who makes replicas of the menacing Stormtrooper helmets featured in Star Wars films won a legal battle Wednesday against director George Lucas, who took him to the High Court in 2008 over copyright infringement.
The Supreme Court ruled that the replicas were not covered by copyright law because they were not works of art, the Press Association reported.
But the court also ruled that the director’s copyright had been violated in the United States.
Judges said 62-year-old Andrew Ainsworth is free to continue making the helmets in his studio in Twickenham, southwest of London, although he cannot export them to the U.S.
“I am proud to report that in the English legal system David can prevail against Goliath if his cause is right,” Ainsworth said in a statement. “If there is a force, then it has been with me these past five years.”
Ainsworth, who made most of the helmets in the original Star Wars film uses original moulds and tools to make replicas for fans.
“We don’t export to the US, so it doesn’t affect us. We export everywhere else: Australia, Singapore -- we’re looking at that side of the world,” he said.
Both the UK Court of Appeal and the High Court had already ruled in Ainsworth’s favor in his battle with Lucas’s production company Lucasfilm, who had successfully sued him in the U.S. for $20 million before taking their legal battle to Britain.
After Wednesday’s judgment, Lucasfilm vowed to continue defending its property rights.
It said in a statement it was committed “to aggressively protecting its intellectual property rights relating to Star Wars in the UK and around the globe through any and all means available to it, including copyright, trademark, design patents and other protections afforded by law.”
It added it encouraged recent efforts by the British government to modernize copyright and design laws and added that film props are protected by the law in “virtually every other country in the world.”
Created by Clare Kane; Editing by Steve Addison