`Star Wars' seller feels force of suit

BUSINESS DIGEST

November 29, 2006|By Allison Connolly | Allison Connolly,Sun Reporter

Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas and owner of the Star Wars trademark, is suing a Maryland business that sells Star Wars light sabers through the Internet.

Lucasfilm filed a patent-infringement lawsuit yesterday against William L. Osburn and an Abingdon company that he owns, High-Tech Magic, in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

High-Tech Magic is diluting the Star Wars trademark and making a profit by "confusing fans," Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, said in a statement. In the complaint, Lucasfilm asks the court to order the infringing merchandise destroyed and to award the company "exemplary damages."

Lucasfilm spokesman John Singh said the San Francisco company didn't state the amount of money it is seeking because it is still trying to determine the scope of the Maryland company's operations.

A message left for Osburn yesterday on the answering machine for High-Tech Magic was not returned.

On its Web site, High-Tech Magic claims it is licensed by "Lucas Films" to sell a limited number of replica sabers. It also says it can manufacture a "Star Wars Lightsaber that looks as good as those in the movies." For those customers who wish to build their own sabers, the company sells kits starting at $59.95.

Besides Star Wars and "Lightsaber," Lucasfilm claims High-Tech Magic also inappropriately uses the trademarks "Jedi," "The Force" and "Death Maul."

Lucasfilm said it won a $20 million judgment in October from the U.S. District Court of Central California in a copyright infringement case against a British manufacturer of "Stormtrooper" and other Star Wars helmets.

"It's something we take very seriously," Singh said.

allison.connolly@baltsun.com

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