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CINCINNATI, Ohio (CAP) – When it first splashed onto the big screen in the late-1970's, Star Wars was not only a box-office sensation, but also one of the first movies to generate a product tie-in campaign that was worth millions of dollars.
While items such as the Luke Skywalker Lunch Box or the Princess Leia Galactic Berets have become highly sought-after treasures on the collectors circuit, others faltered out of the gate, forever lurking in obscurity, awaiting a second chance at fame.
Items like the Darth Vader Doily.
"It's a doily, in the shape of one of the world's foremost cinematic super villains," said Cincinnati Novelties owner Ray Franchetti. "You put it on your table, you don't get a Schlitz stain on it. Or you just set it out as a decoration. You know, whatever."For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Darth Vader Doily is flying off the shelves. And it is not some mass decorative evolution that is fueling desire for the kitschy sci-fi doilies, but rather publicity from a massive lawsuit brought by Franchetti against some of the nation's largest producers of software, movie rentals and blank entertainment media.
"When my father – God rest his soul – first launched the Darth Vader Doily in 1979, he thought, This is it, THE product, THE one," son Ray recalled. "So he copyrighted the name, and he copyrighted the initials, too. DVD. That's right, DVD.
"Every movie rental place out there, every video game maker, is stealing blindly from my poor dead father, and they're going to pay even if I have to sue them for a long, long time in a courtroom far, far away," said Ray.
Copyright law experts widely believe that the $3.7 billion lawsuit will not succeed, but that it could create legal headaches for many of the 371,018,221 named plaintiffs.
This is the first Star Wars tie-in lawsuit since 1980's unsuccessful LA Confections vs Hustler Magazine, in which the California-based candy company claimed that a January 1980 Hustler spread disparaged one of its lollipop brands, the Millennium Falcon Licker, or MilF Licker.