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US entertainment monolith Disney is once again flexing its legal muscle in order to protect its evergreen Star Wars brand. This time, the dispute is over a concept that was introduced within the story of its Star Wars movies, called “Sabacc”. This obscure Star Wars indicia was first referenced in a draft screenplay for the second film in the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and has since appeared in various LucasfFilm properties in various mediums. (Disney is, famously, the owner of LucasFilms, and LucasFilms makes Star Wars movies and licenses the Star Wars brands.)
The defendant in this case is a company called Ren Ventures, which in 2015 started selling a mobile game version of Sabacc and successfully filed a US trademark registration for the term “Sabacc” in 2016. Here is an extract from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s records:
Disney’s complaint is almost certainly linked to a new film entitled Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 2018. It is not known whether the Sabacc game features in the forthcoming motion picture, but the novelisation of The Empire Strikes Back film explains that the Han Solo character’s iconic starship, the Millennium Falcon, was won through a game of Sabacc, so there is a possibility that the card game will be used in the movie’s story.
Ren Ventures’ main argument is that LucasFilm did not trade mark Sabacc, and that all appearances of the term in books and games relied on the Star Wars trade mark to distinguish it. Disney, on the other hand, alleges that Ren Ventures’ mobile game both copies and misappropriates the Sabbac game in order to capitalise on the goodwill established by both the Sabacc brand and the Star Wars franchise. Disney seeks a cancellation of Ren Ventures’ trade mark for Sabacc as well as an injunction restraining Ren Ventures from using the term. Disney also seeks punitive and statutory damages, and a disgorgement of profits and attorney’s fees.