In a David vs. Goliath scenario, “Star Wash,” a small family-owned car wash on the outskirts of Santiago de Chile, finds itself embroiled in a legal battle with LucasFilm, the company holding the rights to the Star Wars brand. Matias Jara, the owner of Star Wash, was in the process of registering his brand with the Chilean patent authority when LucasFilm served him with a lawsuit. Disney-owned LucasFilm sought to prevent the registration of the Star Wash name, arguing that it could be confused with the iconic Star Wars brand.
Jara, however, is contesting the suit, asserting that the name is sufficiently distinct and that Star Wash does not engage in selling movies or branded products. Despite Star Wash’s online popularity, where employees dress as characters like Chewbacca and Darth Vader for vehicle cleaning, LucasFilm’s lawsuit doesn’t address these points. The Star Wars copyright seemingly does not extend to car cleaning services.
The legal battle is taking a toll on the small business, with Jara expressing the financial strain of unexpected expenses. Nevertheless, he remains determined to contest the lawsuit and continue his Star Wars-inspired marketing.
“Of course this lawsuit is affecting us. We’re a small business and we’re spending on things we hadn’t budgeted for,” Matias Jara told reporters, adding that he plans to contest the lawsuit and go on with his Star Wars-inspired marketing.
Jara revealed that the idea for the Star Wars-themed car wash originated from a clever wordplay suggested by his daughter during a family trip to Disneyland. Despite the clear inspiration, he contends that Star Wash is distinct enough to avoid confusion with the LucasFilm property.
This case draws parallels to a previous ‘David vs. Goliath’ dispute between DC Comics and a Chilean family-owned bakery, “Superpan,” accused of infringing on the Superman brand’s copyright. The legal challenges faced by small businesses against major corporations highlight the complexities of intellectual property disputes and the impact on entrepreneurs striving to carve a niche in competitive markets.