The Time Lucasfilm Had To Pay Up After Losing A Star Wars Screening Lawsuit

If there's one thing that's been made abundantly clear over the last several decades it's that you don't want to tangle with Disney in the courts. That's usually not going to turn out very well for the entity being confronted by the Mouse House in court, especially when their IP is involved and if that IP happens to be "Star Wars." However, there was one case in recent memory where not only did the studio lose, but they had to pay up afterward. 

Let's get in the WABAC machine and travel back to 2015 when a man named Marc John was producing an interview segment with "Star Wars" actor David Prowse at a Manchester "Star Wars" convention that he was planning on being the centerpiece of a small documentary that was going to be beamed to theaters in the lead up to the release of "The Force Awakens." 

Sounds pretty innocent, but apparently Lucasfilm didn't like that at all and shut it down. Mr. John then took Lucasfilm to British court where the company was found to have acted improperly in doing so and they had to pay up. John had sued for £3 million and didn't quite get that exactly, with the courts determining his personal damages to be closer to £39,500. 

That kind of money is but a drop in the bucket for Lucasfilm, so I'm sure it didn't sting too much for them, but it is a rare instance where Lucasfilm and its new parent company, Disney, have failed in court.

Lucasfilm had its own troubled history with enforcing its IP rights

As happy as Disney is to bring out their massive team of top-notch lawyers, let's not forget that Lucasfilm has a reputation for being very protective of its IP well before it was acquired by Disney. Did you know that Lucasfilm once sued Dr. Dre in 2000 for sampling the THX "Deep Note" sound? It's true!

Also, throughout the '80s and '90s, it was commonplace for Lucasfilm lawyers to comb through conventions and confiscate any unofficial scripts, theatrical movie posters, and bootleg videos (especially of the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special" which is now widely available, but at the time was nearly impossible to find) and even fan art/fanzines. Most of the fan content that they cared about was of the steamy variety. 

On the one hand, I can understand why George Lucas didn't want the "Star Wars" brand to be associated with X-rated fan fiction, but on the other, it's not like kids were stumbling upon this stuff. Back in that era especially, if you wanted to find that illicit material you really had to look for it. 

It wasn't until the lead-up to the prequels that it felt like Lucasfilm relaxed its fan relations a bit, to the point where the company itself promoted and encouraged fan films.

I don't know why someone at Lucasfilm/Disney took an interview with the OG Darth Vader airing in cinemas in the lead-up to "The Force Awakens" as being something to sue over and stop from happening, but it's definitely a bad look.