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Star Wars Prequels The Courts Toys

George Lucas C&Ds 'Lightsaber Laser' 481

Posted by timothy
from the illegal-operation dept.
dward90 writes "George Lucas thinks that bulky, handheld lasers shouldn't be produced because they are his intellectual property. From CNN: '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.'"
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George Lucas C&Ds 'Lightsaber Laser'

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  • by boristdog (133725) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @09:34AM (#32826038)

    But now I remember and want to go to the Wicked Laser web site and buy stuff.

    Thanks for reminding me, George! Say hi to Babs Streisand when you see her!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @09:45AM (#32826242)

    While I think this is heavy handed of Lucasfilm Ltd, I looked up the actual product on their website. The pic in TFA is rather close up and doesn't truly show how close this laser resembles a lightsaber. Check out the other pics here: http://www.wickedlasers.com/lasers/Spyder_III_Pro_Arctic_Series-96-37.html

    As much as I hate to admit it, it does look way too similar to a lightsaber.

  • by rcb1974 (654474) <richardballantyneNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @09:53AM (#32826366) Homepage

    What you need to be worried about is not just the power, but the intensity (power density, or power/spot_size). If the spot size is 1mm diameter, then the power density would be:

    sunlight = 1000 W/m^2 (intensity of sunlight)
    laser_toy = 0.5 W/(0.001^2) = 500000 W/m^2

    500000/1000 = 500 times brighter than the sun!

    Let me know if my calculations are wrong... Haven't done this in awhile.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:02AM (#32826498) Homepage

    Willow?
    American Graffiti?
    THX-1138?

    Willow was directed by Ron Howard, not Lucas. Granted, he was a producer, but it still wasn't totally "his baby".

    American Graffiti and THX-1138, though both amazingly awesome, were released prior to Star Wars.

  • Re:OMFG (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:04AM (#32826520)

    The point is that Lucas is suing a company that makes something real (patent related) because it infringes something in a story (copyright related).

    GP also said "a process". Processes are patentable.

  • Don't be stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:05AM (#32826540) Homepage Journal

    this has NOTHING to do with it being a laser. He claims the shape of the body was built to resemble a light saber handle.

    Functioning has nothing to do with it.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:26AM (#32826878) Homepage Journal

    If Lucas is claiming the "lightsaber handle" is *his* intellectual property, he's on very shakey ground as the prop in the ORIGINAL STAR WARS was a Graflex handle, a fairly off-the-shelf item in the moviemaking biz.

    Similarly the prop control panel for the Death Star's main weapon was a Grass-Valley video switcher. These are not Lucas's intellectual property. They are common items that were used in the movie because the guy was strapped on the budget.

    Is Lucas going to sue anyone making a 3-wheeled two-seater with no top, even though *they* used the chassis from a Reliant Robin for the landspeeder? And what about blasters? The guns used in the movie were slightly re-dressed real weapons, he really doesn't have much copyright on existing designs that were around long before the film.

  • Re:OMFG (Score:4, Informative)

    by Br00se (211727) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:28AM (#32826910)

    But the Star Wars props aren't original designs. The early ones were Graflex flash guns with very minor modifications. They evolved slightly over the years, but the design didn't originate with Lucas.

    Basically George is mad that someone ripped off a design that he ripped off already.

  • Related news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:28AM (#32826920)
    In a related story, the copyright holders of the Akira Kurosawa film "Hidden Fortress" have demanded that LucasArts cease all sales of "Star Wars".
  • Re:OMFG (Score:3, Informative)

    by DinDaddy (1168147) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:53AM (#32827280)

    Or maybe a certain photographic flash maker in particular?

    http://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/index.php?topic=5996.0 [fx-sabers.com]

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by BryanL (93656) <lowtherbf.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:01AM (#32827414)

    The company doesn't pitch it as a "light saber". Reviews of the product compare it to a light saber, but it is not marketed by the company as one. Lucas is complaining because the laser has a hilt like a sword or a light light saber. His argument is fairly weak IMO.

  • Re:OMFG (Score:3, Informative)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:12AM (#32827544)

    Wow. That's amazing. It makes sense, but I had no idea how true this was until I Google'd it...

    http://www.google.com/images?q=Graflex%20flash%20guns [google.com]

  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:02PM (#32828286)
    http://tattuinardoelasaga.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/tattuinardoela-saga-if-star-wars-were-an-icelandic-saga/

    Surely you're not referring to this. If so, your BS detector needs calibrating.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:11PM (#32828388)
    Lucas did not write or direct episode V, The Empire Strikes Back.
    "... directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_V:_The_Empire_Strikes_Back [wikipedia.org]
  • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:38PM (#32828658)

    As much as I hate to admit it, it does look way too similar to a lightsaber.

    Yeah, but it's not an actual lightsaber, which is what George Lucas patented and sells. Once you enable the blade, the difference is very clear; this laser can cause blidness, but a George Lucas's lightsaber can cut a man in half. He doesn't want buyers feeling cheated when they find out it's just a dinky laser, thinking the real lightsaber was just a hoax.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:41PM (#32828692) Homepage Journal

    1. Leia was raised by the Organa family. She was also hailed as a Princess because people believed she truly was the child of Bail Organa. The person she believed was her mother wasn't actually her mother.

    2. Lucas said for I think 20 years in various interviews that he always envisioned the Vader/Obi-Wan duel would take place on a volcano planet. I think Starlog magazines were writing about this in the early 80's. I'm not sure why anyone is surprised by something that has been somewhat canon for decades.

    Anakin has a lengthy, exhausting duel in the heat and then has his legs chopped off. In the pain and anger of that moment, he didn't think to move himself with telekinesis. Perhaps the pain of dual amputation distracted him. Using telekinesis seems to require full concentration. Yoda couldn't deal with Dooku and use telekinesis at the same time.

    3. Never is it suggested that the Sith power in question raises people from the dead, but rather stops one from dying in the first place. And even though he wanted that power to protect Padme, it wasn't enough to push him to the dark side. He stays loyal to the Jedi beliefs basically right up to the point he inadvertently leads to Mace Windu's death. I'd have to assume he'd be expelled from the Jedi order over those events.

    It would seem he felt he could never go back, and had no choice but to change allegiances at that point. Immediately killing kids after that seems like a bit of a stretch, but it certainly doesn't directly contradict the original trilogy as you suggest.

    Lucas never had a grand vision. He changed his mind all the time. He was just largely stealing from Flash Gordon, Dune, and Hidden Fortress and accidentally created this masterpiece with the original trilogy.

    After Episode 1 he promised Ric Olie was going to be a major character in the trilogy, along with Aura Sing. He promised Episode 2 would explain Force Ghosts, and the Episode 3 would.

    Early drafts for Star Wars had aliens who used spice to fold space. General Skywalker/Starkiller was the old war veteran, not the farmboy.

    He also said when making the original trilogy that the overall storyline was about Luke and restoring the Jedi order. After the prequels, he says the larger story is all about Anakin/Vader.

    Lucas is full of shit. But, your three points aren't contradictions.

    If you're *really* curious, you should read this:

    http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com/ [secrethist...arwars.com]

  • Re:Did he patent it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:44PM (#32828720)

    It is not about patents or copyrights. It is about the trademark on the term "lightsaber", and that is what the C&D says: Call it something else or stop making it.

    Ehem...

    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.

    While your position makes logical sense, I regret to inform you that it doesn't match reality...

  • by mr.dreadful (758768) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:16PM (#32830886)
    George was a huge fan of Joseph Campbell, specifically "Hero with a Thousand faces." The Bill Moyers interviews with Campbell ("The Power of Myth") was taped at Skywalker Ranch.

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