Today's a sad day for any old school graphic adventurer (such as myself) who grew up wandering every inch of Maniac Mansion looking for that damned can of gas, and then finally finding it on Mars while playing Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. For those of you who know what the hell I'm talking about, understand we're a dying breed of gamer, but I digress. The real story here is in the headline. Disney, less than five months after prying Lucasfilm from George Lucas' hands for $4.05 billion, has decided to close the LucasArts game studio. Go ahead and tip your grog glass over the pavement.
Some long time fans of Star Wars are afraid of what will become of their favorite franchise now that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion (to be fair, Disney's done a good job with Marvel assets, like The Avengers movie), but as an old school adventure gamer, I'm even more concerned with what fate awaits old friends like Guybrush Threepwood (The Secret of Monkey Island) and Bernard (Maniac Mansion). So is Ron Gilbert, the guy who created both games (along with Gary Winnick, who co-conceived Maniac Mansion).
Die hard fans of the iconic Star Wars franchise are freaking out after learning that George Lucas just sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion, but after suffering through a trio of sequels that brought Jar Jar Binks into the world, maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Regardless, it happened, and Disney is already planning a new Star Wars movie, which it's targeting for a 2015 release.
Several technology goliaths, including Apple, Intel, and Google, are being accused of high-tech hijinks in a California class action lawsuit. The suit accuses the firms of running afoul of antitrust laws by allegedly conspiring to fix employee pay. The lawsuit also accuses the technology firms of entering into "No Solicitation" agreements with one another. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of Siddharth Hariharan, a former software engineer at Lucasfilm and founder and CEO of InEarth, seeks restitution for lost compensation and treble damages.
Just weeks after threatening (and then backing down from) a lawsuit against Wicked Lasers for selling a laser device that supposedly resembles a lightsaber from the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas has turned his sights to Jedi Mind, Inc., which sells a wireless headset capable of detecting brainwaves and can be used to play games and run apps via thought control (think of OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator).
Lucas and company sent a cease and desist letter to Jedi Mind way back in May, 2009, at which time the company's chief, Brent Fouch, said he would phase his company out of Jedi Mind trademarks. That was enough to appease LucasFilm, only Fouch allegedly hasn't followed through with his promise.
A second cease and desist letter landed at Jedi Mind's offices last September, but failing that, LucasFilm is now seeking $5 million in damages in injunctive relief and recovery of damages.
It should be noted that LucasFilm owns the trademarks for Jedi Knight, Jedi Power Battles, and Jedi Training Academy, but not on Jedi Mind. The company also claims legal rights to "all characteristics associated with the Jedi knights not memorialized in a registered trademark."
So what's the verdict on this one, should LucasFilm be compensated, or told to go pound sand?
Good news for Star Wars fan who, after picking up various VHS copies, DVD releases, special edition DVD releases, and every other version of their favorite sci-fi flicks, feel as though they need yet more copies to add to their collection, they'll soon (and finally) be able to watch the classic series on Blu-ray.
"Blu-ray is the absolute best way to experience Star Wars at home -- in pristine high definition," said George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga. "The films have never looked or sounded better."
All six movies will ship in the Star Wars Blu-ray Box Set in Fall 2011, and of course you can expect plenty of extras, like documentaries, behind-the-scenes shots, interviews, retrospectives, and never-before-seen footage from the Lucasfilm archives.
Ever since Wicked Lasers released its S3 Arctic Spyder III laser, comparisons have been to the lightsaber Luke Skywalker wielded in a little sci-fi flick called Star Wars. That's great for publicity, but it also caught the attention of Lucasfilm, which promptly sent Wicked Lasers a cease and desist order demanding that the company either change the design or stop selling it altogether.
Wicked Lasers responded by opting for option C, which was to put the letter on eBay and brace themselves for a legal battle. Well, there isn't going to be one. Maybe cooler heads prevailed in the Lucasfilm camp, or perhaps they didn't like the negative media attention the letter stirred up. Maybe the Force is strong with Wicked Lasers. Either way, George Lucas and company decided to retract the letter.
"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," Lucasfilm's legal team stated in a followup letter.
"We appreciate the clarifying public comments that you have made. We have noted that apparently in response to your public comments the press coverage has changed since we issued our cease and desist notice, as the media and the public has come to realize that Lucasfilm would never endorse or license a highly dangerous product such as your Arctic Pro Laser and that in fact there is no relationship between Lucasfilm and your company or its products."
This time around, Lucasfilm went on to request that Wicked Lasers add a disclaimer stating that the Arctic Pro, as well as other similar products, are not licensed or endorsed by Lucasfilm. Or put another way, wave a virtual hand in front of the public and disclaim that these are not the official lightsaber products you're looking for.
On a related note, we had Wicked Lasers send us the laser in question. You can see the unboxing here.