A British court has just ruled that Lucasfilm is the sole owner of the Stormtrooper costume designs from Star Wars, not a plastics manufacturer who was hired in 1976 to reproduce designs created by a team of Lucasfilm artists.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
Andrew Ainsworth, a principal of Shepperton Design Studios, had claimed he created the designs and reproduced Stormtrooper helmets for sale. Ainsworth had sculpted the helmets for the first “Star Wars” film.
High Court judge Anthony Mann ruled that Ainsworth violated Lucasfilm’s U.S. copyrights by selling the helmets to customers in the U.S.
Mann, however, also ruled that in Britain, the English copyrights for the outfits had expired. Ainsworth’s attorney, Seamus Andrew, said the ruling meant his client can sell the helmets anywhere but in the U.S.
Lucasfilm initially sued Ainsworth in California and obtained a $20 million judgment. However, Mann refused to enforce the judgment in Britain, finding that Ainsworth’s U.S. sales, which totaled $50,000-$60,000, was not significant enough for U.S. jurisdiction.