The Last Jedi is out and making a bunch of money (and if you didn’t like it, you really are a Grinch) but Disney is looking ahead to its next movie. Disney filed a trademark infringement lawsuit to stop a mobile app based on the game Sabacc that is likely to be featured in the upcoming Star Wars‘ Han Solo movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It is well-known through Star Wars lore that Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon in a game of sabacc from Lando Calrissian. Sabacc was the hold-em poker of the universe a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Sabacc was a card game in which the goal was to win the sabacc pot by collecting a hand of cards that totaled positive or negative 23, which generally would constitute a winning hand called Pure Sabacc. (Thanks, Wookipedia.) Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon in a Corellian Spike version of the game which uses a six-sided dice. There have been allegations of some cheating in that game but Han would never. Next thing you are going to tell me is that he shot first, ridiculous.
Lucasfilm does not own a registered mark for SABACC but after some Trademark Office maneuvers, it appears as if they want one. On May 1st, Lucasfilm submitted a Petition for Cancellation to cancel a mark owned by UK company for video games and a whole bunch of other products. In the petition, Lucasfilm claims to have first used the term in 1980 in the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. In 1989, Lucasfilm licensed SABACC in connection with a roleplaying card fame and in numerous other places over the years including a Star Wars version of Monopoly. Lucasfilm requests that the current mark be cancelled due to a likelihood of confusion between the mark and Star Wars’ mark. The UK company has several references to Star Wars on its website promoting the game and is not hiding the (unauthorized) ties between its product and the Star Wars franchise.
However, this maneuver has been countered by Ren Ventures Limited (no relation to Kylo). Ren has filed an answer to the cancellation proceedings denying all the claims set for in the petition and insists that there is no likelihood of confusion. Ren even claims that Lucasfilm implicitly consent to the filing by not taking action sooner. Lucasfilm had every opportunity to oppose this trademark when it was published for opposition in May 2016 but didn’t do so.
Disney wasn’t ready for this to be the winning move. Right before Christmas, Lucasfilm filed a trademark infringement action to stop the release of the game and to cancel the trademark. There are more moves in this dispute than in a game of sabaac.
It appears that the game will play a big role in the Han Solo spin-off movie set to be released in 2018. That movie stars Donald Glover and Alden Ehrenreich as younger versions of Lando and Han, respectively. Word has let out that the movie will cover how Han won the Millennium Falcon and it appears the card game sabacc will be a big plot point for the movie.
With the movie, it is enviable, that the merchandising giant that is Disney will being selling its own version of sabacc to cash in on its importance int he film. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both card games and electronic Hearthstone-like games. I fully expect Lucasfilm to be victorious in this action and then move forward on its own trademark registration for SABACC. Lucasfilm is hoping for a good hand in this trademark fight and a lucky roll of the dice.