Mr Justice Mann has delivered his judgment in the case of Lucasfilm Ltd, Starwars Production Ltd and Lucasfilm Entertainment Co Ltd (Lucasfilm) v Ainsworth and Shepperton Design Studios Ltd.

The saga began when Lucasfilm won a $20 million judgment against Mr Ainsworth, who helped create the famous military style outfits in the Star Wars film, in the US Courts and in this latest episode Lucasfilm wished to enforce this judgment in the UK.

Mann J ruled on various issues concerning: if Mr Ainsworth copied material protected by copyright; if uniforms were artistic works; if the US judgment was enforceable in the English Courts; if those allegations were justiciable could the courts exercise their jurisdiction in this case; and finally if the US infringement case had been made out.

Complex issues of jurisdiction are the main focus of the ruling.

The only claim to succeed in the court was the claim by Lucasfilm based on the infringement of US copyright. Confusingly, however, the courts held that the US judgment is not enforceable against Mr Ainsworth, as he did not submit himself to the jurisdiction of the US. Mann J held that:

"I am therefore prepared to conclude that an English court can, and in an appropriate case should, determine at least questions of infringement of foreign copyright cases. Those cases will include cases where subsistence is not in issue. I would not, however, hold that questions of subsistence can never be decided here. In land cases incidental questions of title can apparently now be considered. I can see no reason why the same should not apply to copyright".

Underlying the Mann J decision are principles of justice, which the Jedi may approve of, namely that Mr Ainsworth should not be able to refuse the jurisdiction of the US Courts and then claim the case cannot be heard in the English Court on the basis that the only appropriate place to bring it is in fact the US Courts.

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