District Court in California recognizes plausible trademark rights over fictional Star Wars board game
Andrei Mincov's commentary on the original article
This is a truly bizarre case, from the trademark law perspective. It can, unfortunately, become the perfect example of how a hard case can make bad law. The only way I can make sense of it is through the prohibition of registering trademarks that falsely suggest a connection with a person or an institution. Or maybe a plain old unfair competition claim. But to claim that the adoration of many Star Wars fans of the movie constitutes sufficient evidence of Lucasfilm's continuous use in commerce of the name of a fictitious game depicted in the movie is not just a stretch. It goes against the basics of the trademark system that only grants a monopoly on a brand insofar as it identifies (or is capable of identifying) a source of products or services. It's a textbook example of coming up with a good name for a product that doesn't exist. That doesn't create a common-law right to the name. That's what intent-to-use trademarks are for. Don't get me wrong. I wish Lucasfilm success in this case because it's not right for someone to get a free ride on someone else's IP. Just don't make this into a trademark infringement case.