In 1977, Columbia Games, then known as Gamma Two Games, published a strategy game called “Starwars”. This game had no connection to the movie Starwars, but was a simple space strategy game for 2-4 players that involved exploration and conquest of six star systems. The game was published in Canada before the movie was released in Canada.
In Canada, as in the USA, names are registered in a variety of classes. Both countries have a registration class for games. We registered “STARWARS” in Canada for games but not in the USA. Later we received a fat letter from the lawyers of 20th Century Fox claiming we had no right to this game name and demanding we cease and desist selling our game. Apparently, they had licensed the name to Parker Brothers (of Monopoly fame) for a game, but had neglected to register the name in Canada.
At first we declined their request. Our game was selling extremely well. But it soon became clear that the success of the movie was responsible for the high sales which meant we could be charged with “passing-off”, a legal term. And we did receive a number of complaints from customers who felt the game had nothing to do with Starwars. And they were right. 20th Century Fox turned up the heat and waved some money at us. For the large (to us then) sum of $20,000, we sold the name to 20th Century Fox, and republished our game under the name STARLORD.
Starlord can be found in the Boargamegeek.com database.
It was the right thing to do, but gosh we just might have left a lot of money on the table. George Lucas recently sold the rights to Starwars to Disney for something like FOUR BILLION DOLLARS.
You can get it from the Columbia Games website!
You can also get it from Amazon!