Since the first film of the Star Wars saga, released in 1977, George Lucas and Lucasfilm have become profoundly adept at dealing with legal matters concerning intellectual property.  With 205 patents, 1,077 individual trademark applications, and 3,489 registered copyrights under the Lucasfilm empire, it is clear that Lucas and Lucasfilm have been nothing but persistent in protecting their intellectual property rights.


Disney, who acquired Lucasfilms in 2012, recently filed a patent application for a real-life lightsaber (sort of).  The “Audience Interaction Projection System” (U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 14/596,153) will project a virtual lightsaber which will allow guests in Disney’s Star Wars Park to fight off the virtual lightsaber as if they were in combat.  The “Audience Interaction Projection System” utilizes a drone to transmit laser light in order to produce the virtual lightsaber.  A hazy fog matter will increase the visibility of a laser, which will allow theme park guests to use their own lightsabers to deflect the beams from the drone.  As if that wasn’t enough, the virtual lightsaber will include haptic feedback and the characteristic lightsaber hum which will let the users know if they’ve been struck by the lightsaber, giving them a real life Jedi experience.  

On a broader scale, Lucasfilms has also taken the forefront on many advanced cinematic technologies used to create more lifelike experiences for moviegoers.  For example, the Lucasfilm patent entitled “Creating Character for Animation” (U.S. Patent No. 8,477,140) is a computer-implemented method which allows graphic designers to create more fluid, realistic, and life-like character mutations on-screen.  As another example, the Lucasfilm patent entitled “Facial Animation Models” (U.S. Patent No. 9,747,716) claims a system which may allow graphic designers to create ultra-lifelike fictional characters, and even allow them to model the fictional characters to mimic real life actors.


As noted above, Lucasfilms owns over 1,000 individual trademarks.  Furthermore, many of Lucasfilm’s trademarked phrases and words include registrations in multiple international classes, claiming protection in a wide variety goods and services.  Unsurprisingly, Lucasfilm has trademarked the term “Star Wars” (U.S. Registration No. 1127229), which was issued December 4, 1979.  Additionally, many Star Wars characters have been trademarked, including R2-D2, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, and Chewbacca.  Lucasfilm uses the “Star Wars” and related Star Wars trademarks on a variety of goods, such as clothing, costumes, toys, and entire theme parks.  To take its IP protection even further, Lucasfilm has even trademarked fun Star Wars-related phrases, such as “May the 4th be With You.”  Additionally, a trademark application for Han Solo’s famous line “I got a bad feeling about this” is currently pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

George Lucas and Lucasfilm have even received trademark protection for the popular word “Droid,” a term coined by Lucas in the 1977 film Star Wars Episdoe IV: A New Hope when referencing R2-D2, C-3PO, and other automatons.  Due to the fact that the term “droid” is protected by trademark, companies that wish to use the term in shows or films now have to pay Lucasfilm to use the word, or prepare to have possible legal action taken against them.


Lucasfilms has registered over 3,489 copyrights since 1978.  The copyrights, a range of artistic expressions including scripts, sound recordings, and movie posters.  Other copyrighted works include read-along story books with CDs, such as “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” adventure books, and chapter books.  The copyrighted chapter book titled “Darth Vader and Friends,” a humorous title which plays on Darth Vader’s infamous sullen attitude and lack of many friends, explores the many friendships that have developed within the Star Wars saga. 

Lucasfilm has even gone as far as to copyright movie taglines.  For example, the tagline, “The next chapter in the Skywalker saga continues as Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers.” is from newest Star Wars film set to premier this Thursday, December 14th

To show your support for the Star Wars saga, and to see Lucasfilm’s intellectual property hard at work first hand, go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and “may the force be with you!”

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.