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Star Wars Prequels The Courts Your Rights Online

LucasFilm Sues Jedi Mind Over 'Jedi' 212

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-my-religion-man dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apparently the force is strong with LucasFilm's legal department, as they've sued the company Jedi Mind for trademark infringement and breach of contract, among other things. While LucasFilm doesn't actually own a trademark on 'Jedi,' it claims that its related marks are close enough, and that Jedi Mind had agreed last year to phase out the use of 'Jedi' in its name and product names."
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LucasFilm Sues Jedi Mind Over 'Jedi'

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  • Re:No brainer (Score:5, Informative)

    by magnus.ahlberg (1211924) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:32AM (#33366694)

    Don't trademarks needed to be registered to be enforced?

    Actually no they do not. There are (at least) two ways to gain a trademark:

    • Registration, which is the safest one, since you know whether you have a trademark or not. This is usually marked with the (R)-symbol
    • Usage/Establishment (the legal term in Sweden is "inarbetad", I actually don't know the english equivalent), by consequently using a brand name in a certain way to market a product, service etc. you may gain trademark rights if the brand becomes part of the public awareness. Usually the TM-symbol is used to show that a company intends to use this as a trademark but it is not registered.

    Trademark law varies a little from country to country and please consider this a simplified explanation. IANALBIHADIL (I Am Not a Lawyer But I Hold a Degree in Law, there must be a shorter one for this - any suggestions?)

  • Re:No brainer (Score:4, Informative)

    by afaik_ianal (918433) * on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:39AM (#33366718)

    Yes, you're absolutely right. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the non-registered one's are called "common law marks" in the US.

    IANAL either, AFAIK.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:29AM (#33366888) Homepage Journal

    George Lucas reputedly loves all those fan films and Lego Star Wars characters. At the same time, the Lucas companies must sue trademark infringers now and then if they want to retain their trademarks.

    But, as I learned some years ago while defusing a DMCA complaint against a SourceForge project that had some Lucas IP in it, if you *ask Lucasfilm politely* for permission to use their trademarks, they'll probably give it to you -- and probably won't want any money if you're a small-timer.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:37AM (#33366926)

    Well, there's the licenced Star Wars brand mind-controlled toy [cnet.com], for a start.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:18AM (#33367108) Homepage

    It takes something of an imbecile to not realize that Lucas would go after him after using the word Jedi. Anyone who would use the word in that context knows exactly that they are referencing the Jedi depicted in Star Wars movies, books, comic books, video games, cartoons, TV series and probably breakfast cereals. (* Silly Sith! Mind tricks are for Jedis! *) There are plenty of other words he could have used that would have been just as good or even better. And when I went to the company's site, I saw a video that depicted a computer input system that, while seemingly impressive, cannot possibly do exactly what it says it does. Tracking head movement? Yeah, I'm down with that. Tracking eye movement and blinking? Pretty damned cool. "Think left, Think right?" I'm more than a little skeptical on that notion. Sounds like the early days of voice recognition 20 years ago and we STILL don't have that right.

    I usually side with the other guy on various issues when it comes to Darth Lucas, but in this case, no... not at all. The only thing that protected Foutch from the full wrath of Darth Lucas was the fact that this is a product for the disabled. Imagine the stink over claims like "hey, George Lucas hates disabled people!"

    Foutch is a huckster and a scam artist in my opinion. Everything about what I have seen so far just spells it out to me.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:18AM (#33367112)

    They were perfectly happy to let him carry on his business under another name. Only one of his products ("Jedi Mouse") even has the mark on it. The burden to his business would've been negligible. How is that stifling?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:29AM (#33367140)

    He 'borrowed' it from the Barsoom Books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (warriors named the Jed). And it's a simple name of course, in Christian circles often the short for Jediah etc

  • by fair use (948368) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:09AM (#33367766)

    The original post confuses trademark law.

    Under common law, all you have to do get trademark rights is to use a particular mark, although whether you can actually prevent any one else from using the mark depends on a lot of factors, e.g., your mark should be distinctive and you should be the first to use it for a particular type of product.

    In addition to any common law rights, you can also get a federal trademark registration, which gives you the right to use the circle R symbol (note that it is against the law to use the circle R symbol unless you have a federal registration). Having a federal registration gives you some advantages over a common law trademark: (1) you get a presumption that you use the mark nationwide (as opposed to a particular geographic region), and (2) you can sue in federal court if someone infringes your trademark.

    Even if you have a federal registration, you only have rights to a mark if you actually use it. If you get a federal registration on a mark, but stop using it, then that mark becomes available for someone else to use.

    Trademark law is very different from patent/copyright law and serves a much clearer purpose -- people need to know the real source of the products they buy.

  • Re:That's terrible (Score:3, Informative)

    by cHiphead (17854) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:40AM (#33368878)

    MORE IMPORTANTLY:

    Jedi is a Hebrew origin name, meaning God knows / God protects.

    took me all of literally 10 seconds of google searching to discover this.

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