Plaintiffs Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC and Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. LLC (“Lucasfilm”) have challenged attempts by defendant Ren Ventures Ltd. and Sabacc Creative Industries Ltd. (“Ren”) to dismiss a lawsuit by Lucasfilm alleging that Ren infringes Lucasfilm’s copyrights and trademarks and has violated unfair competition laws. The game at issue is Ren’s “Sabacc,” a mobile card game which allegedly infringes Lucasfilm’s Star Wars trademarks.
“Sabacc” is the fictional game of chance in the Star Wars universe that was played by Han Solo to win the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has sold various real-life versions of the Sabacc card game, though Ren disputes the significance of such sales. According to Lucasfilm, on the eve of the release of the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18, 2015), Ren–without permission from Lucasfilm–released the mobile card game “Sabacc.” Videos of the game available online suggest that it contains imagery which allegedly depict Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and a holographic Millennium Falcon. Lucasfilm sued Ren on December 21, 2017.
Ren’s Motion to Dismiss argues, in part, that because Sabacc is a “fictional good,” it cannot be amenable to trademark protection or an unfair competition violation. Lucasfilm’s Opposition to Ren’s Motion to Dismiss calls Ren’s arguments “specious,” asserting that Ren “ignore[s] all cases that have granted common law trademark protection to fictional elements of expressive works.”
As many franchises sell real versions of in-universe games (Star Trek’s Tri-Dimensional Chess and The Witcher’s Gwent come to mind), the ruling in this case may have implications far beyond Sabacc.