Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter, Esq broke the news on January 14th that LucasFilm was suing Gen Con, LLC. This news didn’t make it to the gaming world until a few days ago in February, when GamingReport picked it up and other sites began discussing it.
Unfortunately, The Reporter’s summary of the lawsuit [which was filed on January 8th, 2008] was a little terse, and various postings around the ‘net have distorted the case and claimed false things — all of which could be avoided if people had actually read the brief complaint. A fair number of people are saying that Gen Con owes $1,000,000 to Make-a-Wish foundation, and no reading of the lawsuit bears that to be true.
As I read it [and I bounced the complaint and the bullet points over to a legal pal of mine for clarification — thanks Daniel!], the complaints levied against Gen Con LLC are pretty simple:
- Gen Con LLC entered in an agreement — the “Fan Convention Agreement” — to run Star Wars Celebration IV in May 2007. They paid a non-refundable advance, but Lucasfilm alleges that they did not follow through with proper quarterly accounting statements nor payment, and Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $500,000 in compensatory damages plus interest.
- Gen Con LLC entered in a second agreement — the “Auction Agreement” — in which Lucasfilm agreed to provide items to the auction, with the proceeds of the auction going to the Make-a-Wish foundation. It is not entirely clear from the lawsuit if all of the auction proceeds or just those from the Lucasfilm archives were intended for Make-a-Wish.#1 Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $150,000 in compensatory damages, plus approx $150,000 in pecuniary restitution, plus interest on both. In other words: they want the money that would have gone to Make-a-Wish foundation, and they they want to be paid for the merchandise that Gen Con allegedly auctioned off inappropriately.
- Lucasfilm is further asking for punitive damages to be proven at trial.
- Lucasfilm is also seeking pre-judgement interest plus the cost of the lawsuit.
- Lucasfilm has asked for trial by jury on all claims that may be tried by a jury. My understanding is that this is done because a jury trial is more expensive, and thus more likely to force Gen Con to settle, and due to the nature of the donations — the average person isn’t going to look kindly on anyone ripping off a major charity.
That’s the skinny: approx $800,000 in various damages, plus potentially more.
#1: Based on the following quote at It’s a Hit: A Record-Breaking Celebration IV, I’m led to believe that the Lucasfilm-owned items were the majority or the only items available at the auction:
Fans were a huge part of the success of Celebration IV, contributing to programming and events especially in the Fan Fair Hall and on the Star Wars Fan Stage. Star Wars collectors raised nearly $170,000 in four silent auctions and one live auction of vintage toy merchandise from the Lucas Licensing archives. The profits from the auction will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Thursday, Feb 24th edit: My bad; the name of the blog I linked to is The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. Also, the proper name of the suit is “Lucasfilm Ltd v. Gen Con LLC”