Lucasfilm comes down hard on Star Wars-themed events

Not such a long time ago, in cities not so far away, Jedi and Sith warriors fought each other on an unprecedented scale. The epic simultaneous battles in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle set a world record for the number of beings fighting with lightsabers at the same time.

Then a real fight broke out, with much more dangerous adversaries: lawyers.

Event company Newmindspace had organized the record-setting battles in December involving 9,951 combatants, with 2,000 in San Francisco. In January, it heard from lawyers for Lucasfilm, the San Francisco movie company that brought Star Wars to the world, and holds the rights to the characters, names and concepts within the Star Wars films.

“For three months we have been aggressively pursued by Lucasfilm over the use of the word ‘lightsaber’ in our events,” said Newmindspace co-founder Kevin Bracken. Newmindspace had been putting on “lightsaber battles” for eight years with no pushback, but in January, perhaps because the multi-city battles had drawn media coverage, a letter arrived from the Lucasfilm lawyers. “We immediately stopped using the words ‘lightsaber,’ ‘Jedi,’ ‘Sith’ and ‘The Force,'” Bracken said.

Newmindspace began using other words for its events and weapons. But as might have been predicted, those words made their way through time and space to Lucasfilm’s legal team. “In March we received further communication stating ‘The Light Battle Tour’ and ‘light sword’ were still too close to their trademarks, and we moved to settle the dispute to avoid legal action,” Bracken said.

In addition to space-age sword-fighting events, Bracken’s Toronto-headquartered non-profit organizes all-ages events such as subway-car parties, public pillow fights, massive games of capture-the-flag on urban streets, and large-scale bubble battles.

Since the agreement with Lucasfilm, Newmindspace has pivoted, and although it has more battles planned – including one on April 30 in San Jose’s St. James Park at 8 p.m. – it has put entire galaxies between itself and any Star Wars-related language. Lightsabers have been replaced with “Catblades,” which it must be said bear a certain resemblance to the famed movie weapon of Luke and Obi-Wan. And the sword-fight events are now dubbed “Cats in Space” because, said Bracken, “with the simple addition of whiskers to anyone’s face, they can be completely transformed into a galactic warrior – all it takes is a few brushstrokes and you’re ready to help us defeat evil mice across the galaxy.”

Lucasfilm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo: Participants raise lightsabre-like pseudo-weapons at a world record-setting battle in San Francisco in 2015 (Newmindspace photo)


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  • Christine Sumner

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  • Cameron Hansen

    Gotta kill that fun, y’know. How dare anyone enjoy your product in a way other than money.

    • Bigshow

      Nah, it’s not that they want to “kill that fun”. Disney wasn’t getting paid by the event organizers so they brought out the big guns…the lawyers.

  • The Mighty Pathos

    That’s what happens when Disney takes over.

  • Tom Welty

    They should have worked with these guys and set up a booth like they did in some movie theaters to sell Star Wars stuff near the event. You know someones lightsaber is going to break either at the event or on the way.Free promotion, these guys do all the leg-work. Make your brand bigger, instead of pissing your fans off.

  • You know what?

    F&^K Lucasfilm!

    I am a huge Star Wars fan and I will never give up my Star Wars because Lucasfilm says I enjoy their product too much.

    Disney has to be careful about this. They cannot ruin Star Wars. If they do, all of us will grab our LIGHTSABERS and rise up against the evil corporate entities that would dare trifle with Star Wars!!

  • bob

    its not jucas film, its Disney. Disney paid 3 billion to lucas for lucas film and Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects studio. Lucas himself has said he has had nothing to do with star wars or the movies after he sold it. In fact he was upset that he wasnt asked to collobrorate a bit on the new film as he said Disney hinted at that very posibility.

    • KCKitsune

      As soon as he sold it for $3 billion, he lost all rights to be involved in the movie. If he wanted to be involved in the movie then he should have written that into the contract.

  • HankKwah

    This is what happens when disney isn’t getting their cut of the fun.

    disney ain’t all sweet and nice like folks like to think.

    • Shaun Baxter

      You’re right. I think their corporate leaders are definitely the stereotypical psychopaths that don’t care about anything but money.

      • HankKwah

        It’d be one thing if they said, ‘Don’t call it this or that.’ But to go after actual terms like ‘lightsabers’ and etc. is really petty.

        • Thi Leslie

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  • kayakjack

    “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

    • Chris Thomas

      Watch out for that cease and desist letter.

      • kayakjack

        My attorneys are standing by!

  • Risinphoenix91

    Money will destroy us all. How sad.

  • Risinphoenix91

    I guess disney doesnt have enough money yet. How disappointing.

  • 47250HoosierFan

    Disney screws everyone in the end.

  • dagobarbz

    We own this. It is part of our culture now. Disney can suck it.

    • Chris428

      *sigh* You’re misappropriating THEIR culture brah. That help at all? Just cuz you WANT something doesn’t mean you own it or even deserve it. Lose the entitlement mentality junior. That being said, Disney is very foolish to alienate the very people that keep them rich and (semi)happy.

      • dagobarbz

        I saw the first one in the 70s. Disney didn’t own that. And we made it part of our pop culture. Disney can’t own that either. That’s over 40 years of us owning Star Wars, 40 years of cultural influence without the Disney taint.

        Given the above info, you can’t call me ‘junior.’

        I agree, that it’s extremely stupid to try and control fan behavior of a phenomenon they didn’t create. Fans can make things backfire in clever, destructive and unexpected ways.

        I wonder…if they got riled up sufficiently, Comicon could be VERRRRY INNNTERESTINK this year.

        • VeFi

          Disney still owns the franchaise including all movies. They has no symphathy whatsoever for fanboys, and they dont give a rats ass about what happens at comicon.

          Its not like Lucas was much better though.

  • Candace E Case

    Star Wars fans should mass protest the company biting the hand that feeds it and threaten not to buy merchandise and tickets. George Lucas got noxious about 15-16 years ago and fan outcry backed him off.

  • Shaun Baxter

    Not just a coincidence this happens a few years after Disney buys the company. As if they don’t make enough money lmfao. Greed is killing our species. And I love how LucasFilm doesn’t respond to a request for comment. Those mofos know they’re wrong and they know nothing they say can change peoples’ minds on this. Disgusting fat pigs.

  • Christine Silver

    I finally got around to watching The Force Awakens. How can that movie be considered “original”? It was almost an exact copy of the first Star Wars. Lost droid in the desert carrying secret info for the Rebellion, happens upon a person strong in the Force ( sue me Lucasfilm ). That person meets an old warrior who later dies by Lightsaber. Big battle of good vs evil ends with the destruction of the evil planet killer. Even the opening scene was a copy. Storm troopers attack, once safe, the dark side Force wielder, in a black mask appears to be evil to the rebels, allowing the droid to escape. Thankfully, I didn’t waste money on such a lame rehash.

    • Mark Mann

      No one, except fans that didn’t pay attention and expected something it was well known it wasn’t, expected it to be original

    • THX 1138

      And who asked to hear about your worthless opinion regarding a different topic? I guess you just felt the need to share your miserable experience because your life is miserable, right?

    • KCKitsune

      Agreed! It was NOT a billion dollar movie. It was enjoyable, but it was not worth the admission price.

  • Dan Snow

    Idiotic. Especially considering that Disney makes money off of the Star Wars licensed material the fans are wearing and using…

  • Chris428

    Refer to them as Lightsabiers? Don’t forget the accent when saying it.

  • photon_plumber

    Paramount is going after Star Trek Axanar, and now Disney is going after another group of fans. Note the word ‘fans’. These are the people who buy your stuff and pay your bills. Don’t anger them.

  • mamabear1966

    Disney sucks @$$ anyway. Gouging every penny they can from everyone. If you quit supporting them, then they’ll listen. Only way to hurt them is to take away the funding, the MONEY they get from us. I haven’t been to Disneyland or bought anything Disney related in decades. Walt Disney would be spinning in his grave if he knew what was going on. He would NOT be proud of his people who have taken over the ‘business’.

  • Saia

    Yay for Disney, your actions are earning fans hand over fist. Well done. Good Job. I hope you get sued for employing pederasts.

  • THX 1138

    First world problem: I can’t go to an event with thousands of other nerds/rejects/exploiters and battle it out with my lightsaber.

    Cry me a river you losers.

    • Craig A. Sculthorpe

      Spoken like a true idiot..

  • Mark Mann

    Disney has every right to protect their properties, it’s their job actually, if something was making money for someone, but that something was something you owned the copyright or trademark to, you can say you would be okay with it, but you’d be lying

    • THX 1138

      Get out of here with your common sense and logic. These people can’t handle it.

    • Craig A. Sculthorpe

      We understand trademark and copy rights, but there is a fine line between corporate greed and letting fans be fans. Its done in honor of what they love, i would take it as a sign of respect for something that has changed so many peoples lives.

      • Mark Mann

        you are all for people using something of yours to make money for themselves without your permission? great…let me know what of yours i can use

        • Craig A. Sculthorpe

          So let me guess you have never sold anything you bought for your own profit??? Im sure you have. First of all yes they Lucas and Disney have a right to but they shouldn’t. Its one thing if this was a franchise or something… This is a “FREE EVENT” of people who grew up and love Starwars. Just because something becomes popular dosent make it morally right to intervine.. Where were they when the event was small???

          • Mark Mann

            there’s a difference between selling one item(which, i might add i already paid for, so the manufacturer already got paid) and advertising and implying that disney or any other large business is associated with something, that uses that business or it’s likeness to draw advertisers to help the organizers pay for this event(just because it’s free to the attendees doesn’t mean it’s free to the organizers)…as to your last question, a small event would draw less attention than a large, international event that is internationally advertised…

    • P.B.

      Finally, someone has a grasp.

  • Greg A

    I see their argument for the use of words that are clearly Star wars terms, but I would argue about the use of other words that Lucasfilms says is “too close” for example lightsaber would be starwars, but lightsword, for example, I don’t think so. The argument is based on the idea that lucasfilm doesn’t want people to think the events are in anyway connected to lucasfilms. If you called them lightswords, I think everyone would know you are not affiliated with lucasfilms. copy righting lightsabers doesn’t automatically give you rights over other terms not stated in the copyright unless they are specifically stated. That why for example, apple copyrighted terms like applewatch, iwatch, and other similar terms so no one could use something similar to their actual product name. But hey, luasfilms can argue whatever they want… the organizers complied, so whatever.

  • Luthien

    Thanks Disney for ruining the fun and love we have for the series. Too bad George Lucas caved to your purchase offer.

    • Flava Futha Muckin J

      Caved, the man had more money than he knows what to do with before this deal, I don’t think he negotiatedid at all I think he took their first offer and walked. If Lucas wanted, I bet he could have gotten 10 billion, easy.

  • CodeDog

    Note to film makers; its usually not good to piss off the geese that lay your golden eggs. Most businesses would kill for the free advertising you are throwing away.

    • Flava Futha Muckin J

      Star Wars/Lucasfilm doesn’t need free publicity, they have plenty of media outlets for that in the Disney family. This is about money and Disney not getting their cut.

  • klunkerboy

    George sold the farm, the Mouse now owns it. The Mouse has NO sympathy. I was wondering just how long the Mouse would tolerate the Fanboys, guess I have my answer.

    • P.B.

      Grow up, this isn’t “fanboys.” It’s not 12 guys in Youngstown having a party. Did you even read the article or are you just reacting like a whiny teenage brat?

  • btc909

    Lucas gave away the franchise for peanuts. Disney will make that money back plus the films, plus the two park expansions in under 5 years.

    • P.B.

      4 billion isn’t exactly peanuts, but you’re correct in that they have the know-how to make it back. Lucas certainly lost the knack so to him, it was a more than fair price. The property is only worth that amount if you can make it generate the levels of income Disney is capable of.

    • Flava Futha Muckin J

      They’ve already made their money back from merchandising, alone.

  • Steve

    Disney is well known for protecting it’s trademarks, this is nothing new, but Lucas himself was plenty brutal and petty when it came to protecting his trademarks. Just read the small text in any Android commercial.

  • Jason Aaron Williams

    Light Swords were out before lightsabers. in fact the oldest known light sword came from a movie released before Star Wars. In fact George Lucas tried to trademark it and was told NO Disney did not buy said trademark because it was never part of the deal. Light Sword Battles is very legal. In fact go into any store you can find fake Lightsabers. sold near the Star Wars stuff and they use the name Light Sword. Sorry but Catblades. sorry but no thanks

    • Flava Futha Muckin J

      The threat of legal action usually gets Disney what they want, but if it were me I’d tell Mickey to go fornicate himself.

  • Komotz

    Lets get something straight, this ISN’T Lucasfilm, this is Disney, the nazi’s of the movie industry.

  • Flava Futha Muckin J

    “Space Monk Battle Royal with a side of Space Voodoo” is my gift to humanity.

  • Mark Tarrabain

    They had another option other than to rename their weapons. They could have elected to remind Disney of something called “nominative use”, which permits the usage of trademarks, even for public usage, while still being considered to not dilute the trademark. While technically all they have to do to qualify for nominative use is to not suggest that there was a sponsorship or endorsement by Disney, it would be wisest if they explicitly claimed that there was no such relationship, dispelling any possible confusion that Disney might have something to do with an event that would otherwise be considered to infringe on trademarks that are owned by Disney, and Disney would not have any legally sustainable grounds to sue in the first place.

  • KCKitsune

    You know these guys can put on some cheesy “armor” and pretend to be Gundams and tell Disney, “Uh, no we’re not using lightsabers. We’re using beam sabers.” Last time I checked Gundam is doing pretty damn good in Japan and they wouldn’t take Disney’s crap.