'Star Wars' fans: The Stormtrooper helmet battle is over
The epic battle between a British prop maker and Lucasfilm Ltd. over who has the right to sell Stormtrooper helmets has come to an end.
The five-year war, which took place not in a galaxy far, far away but rather in the legal courts of both America and Britain, began in 2006. That's when Andrew Ainsworth, designer and maker of the original Stormtrooper helmets featured in the classic "Star Wars" movies, began selling replica helmets cast from the original 1976 molds over the Internet. Lucasfilm tried to stop him, saying the helmets were protected by copyright laws.
On Wednesday a British court ruled that while Ainsworth cannot sell the helmets in America, he may continue to make and sell helmets in England.
It all came down to whether the helmets are sculptures, which would make them works of art and therefore covered by British copyright law, or whether they were props and not artwork, which would mean they are covered by a shorter copyright period that has now expired.
Lucasfilm lamented that the court had upheld an "anomaly of British copyright law under which the creative and highly artistic works made for use in films — which are protected by the copyright laws of virtually every other country in the world — may not be entitled to copyright protection in the U.K."
Ainsworth's Stormtrooper helmets, which he sells for as much as 500 British pounds on his website originalstormtroopers.com, do look pretty cool, but we're lamenting that they don't have any of the capabilities we imagined them to have when they were in the films.
Go on Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki, and you'll find that these helmets should have a ton of functionality including advanced breathing filters (which act as protection against chemical and biological attacks, as well as toxins), cooling and atmosphere control systems, and "HUD displaying targeting reticule and weapon information." Ainsworth's helmets, with their hand-painted frown and single ear screw, might look authentic, but they're straight-up white 2.5-mm high-impact styrene.
-- Deborah Netburn
Image: The ANH Hero helmet is billed as the closest reproduction of a real Star Wars ANH Stormtrooper helmet ever on Andrew Ainsworth's website. Credit: Originalstormtroopers.com.