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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 17:01 GMT
UK designer in Stormtrooper fight
Imperial Star Wars helmet
Star Wars memorabilia is popular with collectors
A British designer is preparing to do battle with Star Wars creator George Lucas over the right to make and sell replica Stormtrooper costumes.

Andrew Ainsworth, of Shepperton Design Studios, helped design dozens of costumes for the 1977 Star Wars film.

Lucasfilm, which owns the Star Wars brand, sued Mr Ainsworth in 2004 when it found he was selling replica outfits from his small Twickenham workshop.

Last month, a judge in California awarded Lucasfilm damages of $20m.

The court found that Shepperton Design Studios had been marketing unlicensed copies of Stormtrooper helmets and costumes, and TIE fighter pilot helmets, as well as making misleading claims about the authenticity and origins of the items.

Luke Skywalker would not have let this go
Andrew Ainsworth

Lawyers acting for Lucasfilm have lodged proceedings at the High Court in London to enforce the judgement in the UK.

But product designer Mr Ainsworth, who works by himself out of a studio in Twickenham, Middlesex, told the BBC News website he was seeking legal representation to contest the action.

He said he did not have a contract with Lucas when he originally produced the costumes for the film, and had not surrendered his rights for the designs, which include the Stormtrooper outfits.

Mr Ainsworth said he sold two original Stormtrooper helmets at auction in 2004 for 60,000.

He said subsequent interest in the auction, and film memorabilia in general, led to him using the original moulds to produce and sell replicas.

Complete replica outfits sell for up to 1,500, while Stormtrooper helmets cost from 295.

"As far as I'm concerned, I am the original maker and I'm using the original moulds," said Mr Ainsworth.

"I am confident on the rights and the wrongs. Luke Skywalker would not have let this go."

In a statement, Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, said: "Lucasfilm vigorously protects its intellectual property rights in Star Wars.

"Infringers like Shepperton [Design Studios] need to understand that we will pursue them anywhere in the world to shut them down and seek restitution."

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