George Lucas Angry About Real Life "Lightsaber," Threatens to Sue
July 13, 2010
Early last month we covered Hong Kong-based Wicked Laser’s new Spyder III Pro Arctic laser, a 1-watt beast capable of setting people’s skin on fire and causing blindness. In that article we compared the laser to a “lightsaber”, as a humorous pop culture reference. After all, the design looked much like the iconic Star Wars weapon.
George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, noticed that similarity, too, and now has threatened Wicked Lasers to change their design or prepare to be sued. Lucas’s firm Lucasfilm Ltd. sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company threatening legal action if the conditions are not accepted. Lucasfilm states, “It is apparent from the design of the Pro Arctic Laser that it was intended to resemble the hilts of our lightsaber swords, which are protected by copyright…”
The letter says that much like the fictional lightsabers, the Wicked Lasers can prove a dangerous weapon. It writes that they are “a highly dangerous product with the potential to cause blindness, burns and other damage to people and/or property.”
Steve Liu, CEO of Wicked Lasers, says his 7-year-old firm has many lasers that look like the Spyder III and that the design was not meant to copy Star Wars. He states, “Most people feel it’s kind of ridiculous… We would never use any comparison like that to ‘Star Wars’ or a lightsaber or anything like that.”
Much like Luke Skywalker facing down Jabba the Hutt, Liu boldly proclaims that Lucas is making a big error with his legal threats. He states, “Lucasfilm shouldn’t be saying something like that. They’re a big company that needs to protect their trademarks. Maybe they’re having to look like they’re protecting their trademark in case they need to [protect it again] later.”
While we think this suit is relatively silly (most laser pointers look somewhat lightsaber-like), it is hard to deny that the look of the Pro Arctic is remarkably similar to a Star Wars universe lightsaber.
In response to the demand and safety concerns, Wicked Lasers has made some modifications to the devices before it ships them to customers. It has added the following:
1) Adjustable Power Mode : Low power and high power modes are now selectable. Laser’s default power mode is low power mode.Perhaps those modifications will help keep overzealous users from burning themselves or others.
2) Adjustable Wave Mode : Pulse mode and constant wave modes are now selectable. Laser’s default wave mode is pulse mode.
3) Secure Lock/Unlock Mode : The laser can now be locked and unlocked electronically to prevent unauthorized usage. Laser’s default secure mode is locked mode.
4) Training Lens : A replaceable training lens will be installed on each laser that reduces the power output by 80% to prevent accidents for new users. Once training is completed, user may replace the training lens with the included standard lens for maximum power.
As to the Lucas mess, the letter gave Wicked Lasers five days to promise changes, and it seems the company is unwilling to comply. Thus it seems likely that Lucasfilm will sue it. Liu, though, says he hopes that it won’t come to that. We’re guessing George Lucas is searching for a good Sarlacc pit to throw them in now, as we write this.
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