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The Star Wars phenomenon as relates to intellectual property

"People will try to rip off the 'Star Wars' brand forever because it's so lucrative."

Well, there's an obvious understatement, delivered by a commentator who spends lots of time embroiled in intellectual property litigation.

Well-known merchandise readily identified with a cultural phenomenon flatly sells, and it sells big.

And what is bigger than Star Wars?

As noted in a recent article discussing the astonishingly successful Star Wars movies and merchandising/licensing considerations that are intimately tied to them, the Lucasfilm arm of The Walt Disney Company has been hard at work -- in fact, is always hard at work -- taking all the necessary legal steps to protect IP rights to its movie-related products.

And those are legion, reportedly ranging from cork screws and ice cream to staplers and wind chimes. The above-cited article states that Lucasfilm has obtained trademark rights "on pretty much everything in the film that moves."

Many intellectual property experts will respond to that reality with a "rightly so" comment. After all, third-party profiteering from film-related merchandise owes solely to the piggyback exploitation of such products. The use of Lucasfilm creations that were authored through the genius and sweat equity of its employees without paying for the privilege is piracy, pure and simple.

Seemingly, not many people are complaining about licensing fees. The force is clearly with one ice cream maker, who is reportedly "happily on board" the Lucasfilm profit engine after securing a license to use Star War-named flavors for his products (think a marshmallow offering called The Light Side). He says that he quickly sold approximately 12,000 pints of ice cream after executing a legal agreement with Lucasfilm.

It is easy to see why the creators of popular merchandise need to protect their goods through licensing and other legal arrangements. An experienced business and entertainment lawyer can centrally assist in that process and help ensure that the rights to intellectual property are fully safeguarded in all instances.

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