Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 17:30 UK

Stormtrooper battle at High Court

Stormtrooper helmet
The Stormtrooper helmets are popular with Star Wars collectors

A legal battle has begun at the High Court in London over the Stormtrooper costumes used in the Star Wars films.

Andrew Ainsworth, of Shepperton Design Studios, made dozens of costumes for the original 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 south-west London workshop.

The company was awarded 10m by a US judge for copyright infringement and has brought a similar case to the UK.


A Stormtrooper straight from the Star Wars set was brought into the High Court for the hearing on Tuesday.

Michael Bloch QC, representing Lucasfilm, said the Stormtrooper evolved from an original idea by George Lucas which was developed within the studio.

But Mr Ainsworth is resisting the copyright claim and says he owns the rights.

Mr Bloch QC looked at the armour and helmets surrounding him and told Mr Justice Mann: "The gentlemen sitting in front of me and around me, who are known throughout the world, are the subject matter of the entire case."

He added: "You will hear a lot about helmets and armour.

Andrew Ainsworth
Mr Ainsworth sells the replicas for hundreds of pounds

"As far as we know they are half human and half non-human and are known as Stormtroopers. What we are dealing with are characters of the imagination."

Mr Ainsworth is manufacturing the Stormtrooper helmets and suits at his Shepperton Design Studios and selling them for up to 1,800.

Mr Bloch said the design was created by various people and had become "one of the most iconic images in modern artistry".

"The process by which these characters have been devised and realised involves imagination and artistry and considerable team work," he said.

As well as the Stormtrooper uniform, Mr Ainsworth is involved in making replicas of the headgear of the imperial fighter pilots and the helmet designed for Luke Skywalker as he led the final assault on the Death Star.

Mr Bloch said all the Stormtrooper costumes were based on an original painting by Ralph McQuarrie, who was recruited by Mr Lucas to visualise how the ruthless army of the Galactic Empire would appear.

The designer chosen to make them was Mr Ainsworth, who went on to create the monster for the Alien films.

The case continues.

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