From Rogue One to Forces of Destiny: A Star Wars Intellectual Property Story

With last weekend’s release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars is once again living and thriving. Rogue One opened with a most impressive $155 million opening in North America, and $290 million worldwide, making it the 12th largest opening in United States History. Now, this isn’t really related to intellectual property, but in light of this opening,  we thought it would be appropriate to provide an article dealing with Star Wars intellectual property. Luckily for us, just one week ago, some very interesting Star Wars news surfaced.

If you’re an avid Star Wars fan, you are patiently, or not so patiently, awaiting the release of Episode VIII, the next installment in the Star Wars saga, which is due out in December 2017. And if you are awaiting the release of Episode VIII, you likely know that the film still lacks an official title. But a recent trademark filing in the European Union may have provided us with a pretty solid indication of what that title may be. On December 8, 2016, Lucasfilm applied for a European Union trademark for the term “STAR WARS FORCES OF DESTINY.” In the past, Lucasfilm took similar actions with regard to movies such as “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Revenge of the Sith,” and “The Force Awakens.” So, if the past is any indication of the future, there is a strong argument that Star Wars Episode VIII will be entitled FORCES OF DESTINY.

However, although the trademark filing may be indicative of Episode VIII’s title, it is without certainty. Lucasfilm has taken similar actions in connection with trademarks that were not ultimately related to a feature film. For example, in 2002, Lucasfilm trademarked INDIANA JONES AND THE EMPEROR’S TOMB, which was not a working title for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but rather, a videogame. So, Lucasfilm’s filing of a trademark application for FORCES OF DESTINY is not dispositive.

A closer examination of the trademark filing gives additional support to the argument that FORCES OF DESTINY will be Episode VIII’s title. The application contains multiple Nice classifications – an international classification of goods and services established by the 1957 Nice Agreement. These classifications indicate which types of products Lucasfilm will sell in conjunction with the mark. Here, Lucasfilm applied in the International Classes associated with various items, including without limitation, CDs, DVDs, clothing, leather goods, video games, and literary materials. So, it is clear that whatever Star Wars: Forces of Destiny turns out to be, Lucasfilm plans on distributing a wide range of related merchandise. Again, this is not a dispositive indication that FORCES OF DESTINY is the title for Episode VIII, but it seems to be strong evidence. Of course, with the movie just less than a year away, even if the FORCES OF DESTINY is the current working title for Episode VIII, there is plenty of time for Lucasfilm to change its mind. In the words of Master Yoda, “Always in motion is the future.” So for now, “Patience you must have my young padawan.”