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British prop designer beats the Lucasfilm Empire, can still make Stormtrooper helmets

British prop designer beats the Lucasfilm Empire, can still make Stormtrooper helmets (photo)

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Way back in the mid-1970s, before “The Phantom Menace” was even a twinkle in George Lucas’ eye, Andrew Ainsworth made the headgear that would become the legendary Stormtrooper helmets in the very first “Star Wars” film. Now, over 30 years later, he’s secured his rights to keep making replicas of the helmets in his native United Kingdom.

Ainsworth had earlier been sued for violating copyright law in the United States, losing a $20 million dollar lawsuit to Lucasfilm. But as copyright and intellectual property laws contain notorious gray areas that vary from country to country, a similar lawsuit in the UK produced a very different result.

Reuters has picked up that the country’s Supreme Court has “ruled that the replicas were not covered by copyright law because they were not works of art.” This ruling comes after similar ones in both the UK Court of Appeal and the High Court. Interestingly though, the court did recognize that Lucasfilm’s copyright had been violated in the United States, due to differences in intellectual property laws.

While Ainsworth is barred from exporting his replicas to the United States, he is free to make and sell them in the United Kingdom as well as ship them off to a number of other locales, including Australia and Singapore. If you ever thought about becoming a greymarket “Star Wars” replica dealer, now looks like it might be a good time.

Lucasfilm had announced a commitment “to aggressively protecting its intellectual property rights relating to Star Wars in the UK and around the globe through any and all means available to it, including copyright, trademark, design patents and other protections afforded by law.” Their suit stands in contrast to the countless “Star Wars” fan films produced over the years, although the company reportedly keeps a hands-off approach to those as long as they aren’t commercial.

What do you think about the UK ruling? Should Ainsworth be allowed to profit off the Stormtrooper helmets he originally designed, or should that right be reserved only for Lucasfilm? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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