Northern California Record

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lucasfilm, Denny's face lawsuit from gaming company alleging copyright infringement

By Elizabeth Alt | May 2, 2018


SAN FRANCISCO — "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm and Denny’s Restaurants are being sued over allegations they used the name of a trademarked video card game “SABACC” to promote the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” movie.

Ren Ventures (RV) has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California over trademark infringement and unfair competition, claiming Lucasfilm is making profits from using its trademark “SABACC” to promote the movie “Solo: A Star Wars Story” by referring in various promotions and advertisements that a card game the characters play is called “Sabacc.” RV claims customers could assume that Lucasfilm or Denny’s are the owners of the “SABACC” trademark, or that it has given permission for use. The company is seeking damages and orders to stop using the trademark as well as a trial by jury.

In 2015, RV filed to register the trademark “SABACC” for a video card game that is like poker and blackjack, according to information in the complaint. The Patent and Trademark Office filed a public notice in 2016 for any party to object, which RV claims none of the defendants did. RV claims the SABACC brand has become “inherently distinctive” for the card game and has received media coverage and reviews.

RV alleges that Lucasfilm has partnered with Denny’s to produce a promotional commercial known as “Hand of Sabacc,” which shows actors playing a card game, to promote the movie. RV also alleges that a well-known actor in the film, Donald Glover, talked about playing “Sabacc” while promoting the film, which has garnered a lot of media coverage.

The complaint also states that Lucasfilm and Denny’s are also “marketing and selling Solo Film-themed playing cards at Denny’s restaurants throughout the United States” as well as themed menu items and promotional cups.

RV states that by registering the “SABACC” mark, it holds sole ownership to the name and it has not authorized or consented to Lucasfilm using it.

RV claims Lucasfilm violates California’s unfair competition law because its actions “are likely to deceive and/or mislead consumers as to the source, origin, sponsorship, approval, and/or affiliation of goods and services offered under Plaintiff RV’s SABACC Mark.” The complaint states that Lucasfilm and its companies “have made, and will continue to make, substantial profits and gain from the use of the term," and that it will suffer “irreparable harm” if the defendants are not legally stopped.

RV is requesting monetary damages, court fees and relief for profits the defendants made using their trademark. RV has requested a preliminary and permanent order to stop the defendants from “exploiting” the “SABACC” name and for the defendants to remove the trademark from advertising and marketing. The company is also seeking to have destroyed any materials that could be confused with RV’s trademark for “SABACC.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Shannon S. Broome, James E. Rosini and Jonathan W. Thomas of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, Case Number 3:18-cv-02417-JCS

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California