Leave a Comment
The Star Wars card game Sabacc was a key component of the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story, however, the game itself has been at the center of a lawsuit. Lucasfilm was just dealt the winning hand. Several months ago the Star Wars studio filed a lawsuit against an app developer who released a mobile version of the game and a judge has now ruled the app violates Disney's copyright. Now, a jury may decide how intentional the violation is.
Sabacc is the poker game that Han Solo wins against Lando Calrissian that gets him the Millennium Falcon. This has been part of Star Wars history for years, though the game itself was only mentioned by name in some of the expanded universe material until we actually saw the game in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The issue at hand was that Lucasfilm never specifically trademarked the name Sabacc, instead relying on the broader Star Wars trademarks to act as an umbrella covering all of the ideas and concepts that are part of the brand. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a California judge has agreed, finding that Sabacc was mentioned enough within the Star Wars universe to show that Lucasfilm has a right to it.
Interestingly, Ren Ventures used GIFs as part of its defense, arguing that because copyrighted material from Star Wars exists on social media platforms in that form, and has thus far gone unchallenged by Lucasfilm, Ren had no reason to believe the app would be legally challenged either. However, the judge rejected this argument.
This is clearly a major win for Lucasfilm, however, the lawsuit isn't entirely over yet. The judge left open the question of whether or not the copyright infringement was intentional or an innocent mistake. Whether or not there is evidence that Ren Ventures knew what it was doing when it violated the copyright is a question of fact that would need to be determined by a jury.
There is also an entirely separate lawsuit on this same topic that has yet to be resolved. Ren Ventures claims that the trademark on the Sabacc app was violated by Lucasfilm when the studio used the game as part of the marketing push for Solo: A Star Wars Story. No decision was made on that suit, so that side of the issue will continue to be fought in court.
The lawsuits surrounding Sabacc did prevent Lucasfilm from using the name of the card game in some places. You can buy a copy of the Han Solo Card Game to play at home, but the word Sabacc is nowhere to be found on the box. Expect to see the next edition of the game, if there is one, use the word Sabacc prominently.