Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Natasha Burke
Last updated: September 25, 2019
LewisIntroductionto Business Honors-A Period1/15/18IntellectualProperty Intellectual Property is protectionof an idea which enables people to earn recognition or financial benefit fromwhat they invent or create. It is simply intended to reward the creativity of ahuman mind and help them benefit from it. There are four types of IntellectualProperty Protections: Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets. Copyrights protect original works ofauthorship such as books, movies, sculptures, graphical works etc. Patentsgrant property rights on an invention, which allows a patent holder to limitothers from making, selling, or using the invention. Trademarks are words,phrases, symbols, or designs that distinguishes a business from itscompetitors. For example, Adidas’ three stripes identify articles of clothingand footwear made by Adidas.
Trade Secrets are formulas, processes, devices, orother pieces of information that companies keep private to have an edge overtheir competitors. For example, The Coca-Cola Company’s formula for Coca-Colais a trade secret that gives that company an edge over Pepsi Co. There arenumerous laws and details within these types of Intellectual Property that arevery complex, which makes it hard to invent anything and generate profit. Theselaws can either be good or bad…but either way, we must follow them. There havebeen many court cases and lawsuits concerning Intellectual Property laws. In 1977, the Stormtrooper characterfirst appeared in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It has been patented byLucasfilm LTD in 1985. This design has not changed over the years.
Since thatfirst episode, the Stormtrooper costume has been an iconic representation ofthe Star Wars series. When people see that costume, they immediately think StarWars. But Andrew Ainsworth decided to advertise and sell copies of the armorand helmets in 2004. Lucasfilm Ltd then sued him and the case became known as “LucasfilmLtd and others v Ainsworth.” The Stormtrooper costume was createdby Ralph McQuarrie, sculpted by Liz Moore, and Brian Muir. Andrew Ainsworthmodeled the designs and brought them to physical reality from two drawings anda clay model. The costume was a huge hit and Ainsworth felt that he should receivethe credit for bringing it to life. So in 2004, Ainsworth used his originaltools to produce hundreds of Stormtrooper helmets which sold for a value ofbetween $8,000 and $30,000.
He sold these replicas online through many sources.This caused Lucasfilm to sue for copyright infringement. In September 2006, a US court heldthat Ainsworth was liable for copyright and trademark infringement He wasordered to pay $20 million to Lucasfilm Ltd…half of that money was compensatorydamages. Ainsworth never paid, so Lucasfilm brought this case to the Englishcourt hoping that they could enforce this rule.
Lucasfilm claimed for infringementof its copyright under English law. One of the issues to be determined by the Courtwas whether the Stormtrooper helmet was protected by copyright, as a sculpture.Lucasfilm claimed that the helmet is a sculpture due to its purpose that waswholly artistic and that it had no function at all.
They argued that thehelmets’ “sole purpose was to make a visual impression on thefilmgoer.” The judge did not agreewith this claim. The court determined that the helmet was a combination of aprop and costume, which would function as utilitarian. It did not have the thenecessary quality of artistic creation…therefore it was not protected bycopyright. Ainsworth had a defense under sections 51 and 52 of the Copyright,Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). Section 51 of the CDPA says thatthere will be no infringement of any copyright in a “design document or model recordingor embodying a design for anything other than an artistic work or typeface tomake an article to the design or to copy an article made to the design.
” Thejudge explained that the basis of the defense is to “allow generic industrialspare parts to be made by third party suppliers.” He avoided infringing on thisrule because of the court’s decision that the costume was not a sculpture. Section 52 of the CDPA states that “ifthe owner of the copyright in an artistic work has made copies of the work byan industrial process, the artistic work can be copied by making articles ofany description after 25 years from when the first articles were marketed.”This rule was reduced to 15 years of protection of the item.
Ainsworth was ableto rely on this defense since the armor and helmet were not consideredsculptures. To summarize these two rules, athree dimensional object loses copyright protection once it is commercializedunless it is a “work of artistic craftsmanship” or sculpture. Both the HighCourt and Court of Appeal found this U.S. judgement unenforceable as there wasno personal jurisdiction in the United States over Ainsworth. In this case, I believe thatLucasfilm Ltd was in the right but were technically wrong only because of aloophole.
They did patent their product but they should have gone further toprotect it more, thinking that someone was obviously going to attempt to sellone of their own. Ainsworth was lucky to get away with selling the Stormtrooperhelmets because he probably did not even know about the loophole. Either waythis shouldn’t matter for Lucasfilm since they are already worth billions ofdollars. Intellectual Property laws are actuallyvery fair. Logically, if a person invents something or has a creative mind…theyshould be rewarded for it. There are a few loopholes to these laws but ultimately,it is the fairest way to determine who can profit off of an idea.