Intellectual Property Attorney


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … the STAR WARS® brand became one of the most iconic and lucrative licensing franchises of all time. In negotiating during the creation of the first STAR WARS® movie, George Lucas took an impressive gamble on himself and the brand he was creating –opting for the rights to all sequels and future merchandise in exchange
for less money upfront as the director. With an
estimated lifetime film and merchandising revenue of nearly $20 billion, Lucas’ intergalactic gamble made him a billionaire and a household name.

The key to the STAR WARS® brand’s monetary success has always been inextricably tied to Lucas’ aggressive vision of the brand as a licensing powerhouse. The STAR WARS® brand holds numerous licensing-related GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® including:

(i) “most successful book series based on a film series” (more than 100 million sales of STAR WARS® related books);

(ii) “most prolific videogame series based on a licensed property” (more than 279 videogames released); and

(iii) “most successful action-figure” program (over $9 billion in sales as of 2007).

The health of all mass-market, licensing-driven brands depends on: (i) the strength of the brand’s intellectual property protection; and (ii) the public’s appetite for products which license that intellectual property. In the case of the STAR WARS® brand, the public’s appetite for licensed products has been insatiable for decades – fueled by the periodic release of new movies, television programs and books. Capitalizing on this success, Lucasfilm has spent decades focusing on developing and monetizing a robust intellectual property portfolio.

Examining Lucasfilm’s intellectual property protection strategy reveals three key lessons: (i) the value of trademark registration “segmentation;” (ii) the importance of overlapping layers of protection; and (iii) the use of overlapping layers of protection to expand a brand’s rights.

Each of these three topics is discussed in a separate “episode” (:-)). Click here to explore Episode I in this series: “The Force is Strong with Registration Segmentation”.

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