At issue is “Sabacc,” the card game first referenced in a draft screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back.” In the subsequent “Star Wars” novels, it is revealed that Lando Calrissian lost the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo in a Sabacc game. Sabacc has appeared in various Lucasfilm-approved forms since then, including as a card game.
In 2015, a company called Ren Ventures began selling Sabacc as a mobile game. The company also applied for a U.S. trademark for the term “Sabacc,” which was registered in 2016. In May 2017, Disney challenged the registration, arguing it should be canceled because it was likely to create customer confusion.
Attorneys for Ren Ventures have countered that Lucasfilm never bothered to trademark “Sabacc.” On books and games where the term “Sabacc” appeared, Lucasfilm used the “Star Wars” trademark to distinguish it.
“The rare, intermittent appearance of ‘Sabacc’ on the packaging for games about ‘Star Wars’… does not render ‘Sabacc’ a trademark for these games,” Ren Ventures argued in a motion for summary judgment before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The lawsuit comes as Disney is preparing to release “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” on May 25, 2018. It is not clear if Disney plans to feature Sabacc in any of its own “Star Wars” merchandise for the film.
In the lawsuit, Disney notes that the Sabacc mobile game exactly mimics the rules of the fictional game from the Star Wars universe.
“There can be no question that Defendants’ mobile game is intended to, and does, copy and appropriate Plaintiffs’ Sabacc game in order to capitalize on the goodwill of the Sabacc Mark and the Star Wars franchise,” the lawsuit states.
The suit seeks to cancel the Ren Ventures mark and bar the company from using the term. It also seeks punitive and statutory damages, in addition to disgorgement of profits and attorneys’ fees.
Ren Ventures’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Correction: This story originally stated that Sabacc was first referenced in “The Empire Strikes Back.” It was first referenced in a draft screenplay for the film.