The UK Supreme Court ruled this week that the prop designer who first produced the iconic stormtrooper helmet and armor for Star Wars
director George Lucas can sell replicas of the props, according to the BBC
. The ruling means that Lucas has no rights in the designs for the stormtrooper garb in the UK.
The decision turned on the question of whether the stormtrooper designs were art or industrial props. Had the designs been determined to be art, they would have had protection for 70 years after Lucas’s death. By ruling that the designs were industrial props, protection was limited to 15 years, which expired 20 years ago.
The case started in the U.S., where Lucas won, but since designer Andrew Ainsworth had no assets in the States, Lucas began litigation in the UK.