Ainsworth created the Stormtrooper helmets for the first “Star Wars” movie in 1977. He claimed he owned copyright in the design. Lucasfilm disagreed and sued him for copyright infringement, winning a $20 million judgment in a California Court in 2006.
But a UK High Court judge said Ainsworth’s U.S. sales, £25,000 to £30,000 ($50,000 to US$60,000), were not significant enough to bring him under U.S. jurisdiction. So he refused to order Ainsworth to pay the $20 million judgment.
Ainsworth is claiming victory, saying he can continue selling Stormtrooper helmets anywhere except the USA.
Moral of the story – if you hire someone to create anything for you, you can avoid making the same mistake as Lucasfilm simply by coming to an agreement over ownership of copyright. And it’s best to do this at the time of creation, not 30 years later when millions of dollars at stake.