Intellectual Property, Lawsuit of the Day, Ridiculousness

Cease-and-Desist Letter of the Day: Is That a Lightsaber in Your Pocket?

I kind of blew my Star Wars referential load when we found out that the Star Wars Kid was going to law school. But that was weeks ago. Who could have known that in the past month Lucasfilms would become embroiled in some actual legal battles? Earlier this week, we found out that pregnant women have a bad feeling about working for the company. And on Tuesday, CNN reported that Lucasfilms sent a cease-and-desist letter to a laser pointer company because their product looks too much like the iconic lightsaber:

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas wants to force a laser company to stop making a new, high-powered product he says looks too much like the famous lightsaber from his classic sci-fi series.

Lucasfilm Ltd. has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hong Kong-based Wicked Lasers, threatening legal action if it doesn’t change its Pro Arctic Laser series or stop selling it altogether.

I actually own a full sized lightsaber replica (of course I do — do I look like I got laid ever in high school). It lights up (red, d’uh, have you met me?), and it makes all the sounds when you swing it around. And let me tell you, this laser product looks nothing like a real lightsaber…

You be the judge: Does Lucasfilms have a leg to stand on? Here’s the Pro Arctic Laser from Wicked Lasers:

Come on, that thing looks about as much like a lightsaber as Sam Jackson acts like a freaking Jedi.

In any event, Lucasfilms feels that Wicked Lasers is trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Jedi’s weapon of choice:

The cease-and-desist letter doesn’t accuse Wicked of using the term “lightsaber” in its marketing — which Liu said is primarily aimed at industrial, military and research customers.

But it notes coverage from technology blogs that have frequently made that comparison.

A headline from tech blog Gizmodo called the device “a real life lightsaber.” The Daily Tech blog called it “perhaps the first consumer laser weapon” and said it “comes in sleek packaging that looks, unsurprisingly like a lightsaber.”

“These references make it clear that the public is being led to believe that the Pro Arctic Laser is an official lightsaber device and/or copied from our design,” the Lucasfilm letter said.

Okay, let’s step back from the ledge for a second. Lucasfilm knows that there is no such thing as a lightsaber, right? They know that the “design” of a concentrated beam of light so powerful that it can cut through steel like butter, reflect energy pulses, and yet magically stop itself three feet away from its totally inexplicable power source … doesn’t exist? They know that if some genius scientist actually invented such an unbelievable super weapon, George freaking Lucas wouldn’t have an IP claim over it?

Given the science at issue here, there really is only one question: how many ways are there to package a hand-held laser? Surely Lucasfilms doesn’t have an intellectual property interest in every hand-held laser invented now or in the future. So is it Pro Arctic’s cylindrical design that causes a tremor in the Lucas universe?

Lucasfilms hasn’t filed a legal action yet; they’ve just asked Wicked Lasers to stop selling the product. So Lucasfilms is still at the “Jedi mind trick” stage of this conflict. Wicked Lasers CEO Steve Liu appears to be strong-minded, however. We’ll see if Lucasfilms is willing to adopt a more direct method of negotiations.

‘Star Wars’ creator says laser too much like lightsaber [CNN Tech]

Earlier: Law Student of the Day: Star Wars Kid
Misadventures in Trademark Law: Faegre & Benson Helps Pigs Fight Unicorns

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