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'Star Wars' creator backs away from lightsaber laser lawsuit

Doug Gross
Lucasfilm Ltd. backed away from legal action, saying publicity has clarifed that the Spyder III is not a "Star Wars" product.
Lucasfilm Ltd. backed away from legal action, saying publicity has clarifed that the Spyder III is not a "Star Wars" product.
  • Lucasfilm Ltd. backs off of lawsuit threat against laser company
  • Lucas said laser by Wicked Lasers was a knockoff of its lightsaber
  • Lucas says publicity made it clear there's no relation between the product and the movies
  • CEO says controversy has tripled sales of the $199 laser

(CNN) -- Apparently, the Force is strong in a Hong Kong-based laser company that had irked the creators of "Star Wars."

Lucasfilm Ltd. is backing away from the threat of legal action over a powerful handheld laser it had argued is too similar to the science-fiction franchise's iconic lightsaber.

In June, Lucas sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wicked Lasers, demanding that it change or stop selling the latest model in its Pro Arctic Laser series.

"We are aware that, during this time you have made several statements to the media insisting that your product is not intended to resemble a lightsaber and is not marketed by your company as either a lightsaber or as having any connection with 'Star Wars' or Lucasfilm," reads a letter dated July 27 and provided to

Many tech blogs, reporting on the release of the laser, had compared it to the famous weapon wielded by Darth Vader and other "Star Wars" villains and heroes.

Lucas' company claimed those reports implied that Lucasfilm had created or endorsed the laser and said the laser's handle was obviously made to look like the famous sword.

The potential for confusion is now "significantly reduced," according to the letter.

"We appreciate the clarifying public comments that you have made," Lucasfilm said in the most recent letter, from attorney David J. Anderman. "We have noted that apparently in response to your public comments the press coverage has changed since we issued our cease and desist notice."

But the company repeated a claim that the laser is unsafe, calling it a "highly dangerous product."

It also asked that Wicked put a disclaimer on its website clarifying that its products have no relationship with "Star Wars."

The 7-year-old Wicked Lasers says most of its sales have been to researchers and industrial clients. But coverage of the $199 Spyder 3 laser, billed as the most powerful handheld laser in the world, created a spike in demand among hobbyists.

In response, the company added safety features. A safety lock was added to prevent the laser from being turned on accidentally, and its default setting now powers the laser beam at only about 20 percent of its maximum strength.

All lasers are shipped with safety goggles, according to the company.

Wicked Lasers CEO Steve Liu said he's pleased the issue has apparently been resolved.

"We are grateful that the media had a powerful effect to help Lucasfilm change their mind about this situation," he said. "We are still consulting with our legal advisers about the disclaimer."

And, as is often the case, he said, the controversy led to the best publicity the product could ever get.

He said sales have tripled, and Wicked has had to expand to a larger factory and double its customer support team.

"This has been strange," he said. "We felt that it would have been a very bad thing in the beginning, but it ended up helping the business in a very big way."

The Spyder 3 laser sells for $299. It was originally priced at $199, but the price was raised due to "increased operating costs," according to Liu.


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