Space Pets vs. Star Wars
By T-bone
Published: December 9, 2006

It's a funny thing how when someone becomes successful, lawsuits tend to start flying from people claiming to have had an idea long before it was popular. It's a popular trend in America and those people who sue don't usually win.

According to this site, back in the Return of the Jedi days...

George Lucas sued by Dean Preston: George Lucas had to appear in a Canadian court to defend himself in a $129 million dollar copyright infringement case in which Canadian writer- producer, Dean Preston, alleged that the Ewoks, the cute, furry, and rather irritating teddy bear-like creatures featured in Lucas' Return of the Jedi, were his own invention. Preston alleged the Ewoks made their debut in his screenplay, Space Pets, which he said he had mailed to Lucas five years before the movie's release.

The summary court brief can be found at http://www.robic.com/publications/Pdf/142.005.pdf and here's a break down of the 'facts' which went into deciding the similarities between ideas: http://www.geocities.com/melanie_lawnotes2/CopyrightNotes.doc

Space Pets vs. Star Wars
Similarities:

  1. Human principals (3 men, 1 woman) ~ unprotectable ideas (too general)
  2. Supporting characters (Chi Chi Gomez vs. Lando Calrissian) ~ details (but dissimilar)
  3. The Ewok Characters ~ ideas (too general)
  4. The Ewoks’ Appearances ~ details (but dissimilar) - general similarity, but if you subtract the details, they are quite unlike each other - armour is quite different
  5. The Ewoks’ Weapons ~ details (but dissimilar; similarities too general) - slings & spears are similar, but all other weapons in movie are different - regardless of whether there was access here, court found that expression was not substantially similar

Chi Chi Gomez! Love it.

Needless to say, Lucas came out on top of all this.

* Today's Flashback is courtesy of my friend Peter A. Lopez who did most of the research you see here.