Star Wars Character Stickers

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Star Wars Character Stickers

Post by Nalu »

Hi Guys,

I want to sell Star Wars stickers to put on your MacBook.
The sticker will cover your whole MacBook top and the Apple LED will be used to light up a mask of Darth Vader / Boba Fett / Stormtrooper /...
These illustrations are really simplified but still recognisable.

I was wondering if the use of these Star Wars character illustrations are violating the copyrights of Lucas Films/Disney? Because I'm actually making money of their (copyrighted) character/idea... or is this 100% safe to sell?

I guess naming the product Stormtrooper skin or Stormtrooper sticker will not be copyright safe?

Thanks in advance
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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Nalu,

As I often say in answer to postings like yours, there are two separate aspects to this. The first is the strictly legal view. And the second, probably more important, thing to consider is the reaction of Disney, as the current owner of the Star Wars IP, once they discover what you are doing. As far as the law is concerned, I'm assuming you are based in the UK. As far as the second aspect is concerned, where you live won't amke any difference.

So legally speaking copyright will be a problem if you use existing images of the Star Wars characters (say screenshots taken from the films or images used with licensed merchandise such as Lego or Hasbro figures) because I can't see any exception other than parody (and that's borderline) which could get you off the hook. However if you completely re-draw the characters from scratch you might fare better, but there still remains the matter of trade mark infringement. This would certainly involve not using any of the major characters' names, or the Star Wars logos all of which are likely to be registered as trade marks, but again there would still be pitfalls, such as passing off, which sounds as if it could well apply here.

So given that pretty pessimistic overview of the law, that's nothing to the amount of hassle you can expect from Disney's lawyers once they become aware of your product. Disney are known for being pro-active in the defence of their intellectual property. You will almost certainly find DMCA take down action being taken against any websites you try to sell through, and some similar pressure applied to bricks and mortar outlets too. On a personal level you will probably need to get a solicitor on board and that will cost you several hundred pounds even if you and he feel you have a strong defence and can ultimately bat away Disney's pressure. Even if you were take to court and won, you would still be out of pocket over your (by then enormous) legal costs.

The alternative is to explore a genuine licensing deal. I have no idea what this might cost but it could compare favourably with the hassle option.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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