Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.
You Might Need to Be a Jedi to Separate Form from Function in a 3D Object
How a Small Difference Between British and US Copyright Law Made a Big Difference
There’s been a good deal of buzz on some of geekier websites that I frequent about this decision.* At first, it was portrayed as a huge loss by a Goliath at the hands of a David over ownership of the intellectual property in the Stormtrooper’s helmets from Star Wars. Quickly, though, a more accurate narrative emerged. While it really was a victory for David over Goliath–and the victory really was big for David (you have to admire him for sticking to his guns)–it wasn’t so terrible for Goliath. Goliath got to keep the copyright on the Stormtrooper Helmet design, but it now has to tolerate the manufacture and sale by our “David” (or anyone else in the UK) of articles based on that design. (Of course, our “David” can do the job better because he has the actual molds!).
* The decision was rendered by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which is the highest civil court there. Before 2009, these judges were known as the “Law Lords,” which…Read More»