A "Star Wars Day" Lesson: Using "Star Wars" to Explain Trademarks
Happy Star Wars Day! May 4th or “May the 4th Be With You” has turned into the official holiday for Star Wars fans. It’s not quite Christmas or Halloween, yet, but its getting there.
Many people debate whether George Lucas is a good storyteller but one thing that cannot be debated is his skill in protecting intellectual property. Lucas created a colorful world filled with distinctive characters, planets and settings. Lucas gave these things unique names and appearances and then was wise enough to protect such through copyright and trademark registrations. Star Wars is a great teaching tool to explain what a trademark actually is. So, in honor of Star Wars Day, the below are actual trademarks that were at one point or currently are registered trademarks owned by Lucasfilm, most good, some bad.
**Logos:** Logos are probably the most recognizable type of trademarks. These are symbols that when we see them, we immediately associate them with a product, person or thing. The above are some registered logos that we immediately associate with the *Star Wars* universe.
**Words: ** Unique words can be protected as a trademark as well. So next time you think its okay to just throw the word WOOKIE on a t-shirt and sell it on eBay, you might run into some problems.
**Appearance**: Trademarks are not just limited to names and logos but distinct appearances can be registered as trademarks. As seen above, Lucasfilm actually has trade dress protection for the look of the lightsaber. If you try to make and distribute your own Darth Vader helmet or lightsaber you may be committing trademark infringement and if these items are toy products they could be considered counterfeits as well.
**Names**: Unique names that you associate with a product or service are protectable. Lucasfilm routinely registers its trademarks to cover a myriad of merchandise like clothing and collectibles.
**Titles**: Titles of ongoing movies or series can be protected not only in a class that covers motion pictures but in many different products such as comic books or action figures.
**Phrases**: While short phrases are not protected by copyright, they can be protected by a trademark. Over the past year, Lucasfilm has continued to register the MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU trademark and you can read all about how Mickey Mouse has locked down the market on the [holiday](//www.leelawservices.com/disney-sues-the-new-york-jedi/).
*Star Wars* not only entertains but educates. Now that you know about the different type of trademarks and what trademarks are registered in the Star Wars Universe, let’s look at some that should have never happened.
There have been bad spin-off cartoons made about some of the *Star Wars* characters and at one time these logos were both live trademarks. Thank goodness, they are currently dead.
![Image of Star Wars Cartoons](//www.leelawservices.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Cartoons-300x75.png)
Finally, the trademark that almost single-handedly ruined the *Star Wars* franchise: JAR JAR BINKS.
![Image of Jar Jar Binks](//www.leelawservices.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/jarjar.jpeg)
Have a Happy Star Wars Day!