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It's no secret that director George Lucas and his company, Lucasfilm, now owned by Disney, have fiercely protected their intellectual property ever since the original "Star Wars" film was released in 1977. Take one step into that futuristic world and you can expect lawyers to strike back -- whether it's a national defense project touted by the President, a new smartphone release from Verizon or a small brewery in New York.
Lucas and company have won some and lost some. President Reagan was able to use the Star Wars nickname to tout his defense program in the 1980s, but Verizon succumbed to the Force and paid a licensing fee for its Droid phone. Jedi Mind, a computer technology company, had to change its name to Mind Technologies, but a Star Wars propmaker won the right to sell Stormtrooper helmets. And the battle goes on to include Dr. Dre, a movie called "Starballz," and Leia holograms.
More on George Lucas and his legal ups and downs:
- Lucas has been sued, too. In 2015, five engineers brought a class-action suit against Lucasfilm and six other high-tech California companies, alleging a conspiracy to put stealth limits on employee compensation. The companies settled.
- George Lucas is trying to build a private museum on the Chicago lakefront, but he's facing opposition -- and a possible lawsuit -- from open space advocates who say his $1 billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would violate city ordinances.
- The "Star Wars" films have all been box office bonanzas, with revenue in the billions. Then there's the universe of profit generated from other media -- books, computer games, toys, comic books, etc.