(Source: law.com)  Lucasfilm Ltd. was founded in 1971 by Star Wars creator George W. Lucas Jr. It has grown into a major independent production house and one of the world’s leading entertainment companies. Lucasfilm’s primary endeavors include movie and television production, along with groundbreaking visual and aural effects, video games, software and various online activities. Corporate subsidiaries include Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, Pixar Animation Studios, Avid Technology and THX Ltd. The company has spun off a thriving industry of Star Wars merchandising, memorabilia and licensing.

Lucasfilm was off and running after the release of its second feature film, American Graffiti. Made on a $750,000 budget, the movie grossed more than $100 million. Based in San Francisco, the privately held corporation employs about 2,000 people. It does not disclose revenues.


General Counsel David Anderman insisted that he has never been bored during his 11 years at Lucasfilm. He is the point person for any and all legal issues facing the company’s various divisions. His team handles transactions with licensees and forges agreements with talent and their agents. Legal details connected with distribution deals are on the menu, as are issues regarding production work that Lucas performs for other studios and the company’s game division.

As enforcer of Lucasfilm’s worldwide intellectual property, Anderman sometimes assumes the role of litigator. Adver tising, normally the responsibility of the marketing and public relations departments, occasionally spills over into the legal department. Anderman has union-related duties with Skywalker Sound, which works in conjunction with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Every year or two, legal work related to location filming comes his way. There are insurance issues for the group to resolve. The day-to-day operation of Skywalker Ranch, Lucas’ production facility in Marin County, Calif., brings legal activity as well.


Lucasfilm’s 25-member legal department includes eight lawyers. Eight paralegals, called contract administrators, and a versatile support staff round out the operation. This relatively small in-house group is augmented by outside attorneys with a wide range of expertise.

Morrison & Foerster is the company’s go-to firm, both in the United States and globally, and it helps manage Lucasfilm’s trademark portfolio, anti-piracy efforts and real estate transactions. Anderman maintains relationships with outside attorneys in San Francisco, Los Angeles and around the globe. He said he hires them based on their ability and history with Lucasfilm.

The company has registered marks in more than 100 countries and maintains a production facility in Singapore. Immigration-related duties come into play involving its Singapore-based employees. “Our local counsel know the ins and outs of our business,” Anderman said. Lucasfilm has many licensees in China that manufacture Star Wars merchandise.


Anderman considers himself an intellectual property specialist who became a generalist at Lucasfilm. “Every day is a master class on the edges of intellectual property law,” he said, noting that, workwise, almost everything he does touches upon IP and IP-related licensing deals. In one occasion, he helped match the licensing of two brands; thus was born the “Darth Tater” \u2014 a combination of the Darth Vader and Mr. Potato Head characters.

Managing the Star Wars brand is an essential element of Anderman’s job. He tries to encourage devotees’ enthusiasm while protecting the Lucas brands.

Anderman cited an example of how the general counsel of “a company at the intersection of entertainment and technology” explores the boundaries of trademark and copyright law. Last year, Stephen Colbert presented the Star Wars Green Screen Challenge. The contest centered around homemade digital movies featuring the comedian using a Jedi light saber. The situation arose after footage of Colbert jumping around with a light saber found its way onto the Internet. Rather than having the legal department intervene and shut down the Colbert video, Lucasfilm and Comedy Central agreed to launch the contest. The winner was “a random guy from Ohio,” whose entry defeated the effort of “George L. from Marin County,” actually George Lucas, Anderman said.

In determining “what is fair use and what is fan use,” Anderman and his team turned what could have been treated as a case of infringement into a positive public-relations event, he said.


Anderman launched his career as an IP litigator in Silicon Valley. He practiced at the former Brown & Bain, now part of Seattle-based Perkins Coie, doing some work for the Lucas companies. In 1996, he moved to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Then, a partner with whom he had worked at Brown & Bain asked if he would like to submit his résumé to Lucas for an opportunity that had just opened. Anderman interviewed at Skywalker Ranch and, in 1998, became Lucasfilm’s associate director of business affairs.

He has been its general counsel since 2008. He reports to Howard Roffman, the president of Lucas Licensing. From time to time, he meets with Lucas himself, primarily during board of directors meetings.


New York-born and California-raised Anderman and his pediatrician wife, Kara, are the parents of two girls: Natasha, 7, and Rebecca, 5. He fills his spare time with skiing, sailing, woodworking and construction. Anderman received his bachelor’s and J.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Lucasfilm’s many subsidiaries keep evolving, and the company is “always on the cutting edge,” Anderman said. Lucas consummated the first deal for digital cinema in 1998. Digital technology has been applied to all of its recent activities, including the second Star Wars trilogy, animated television shows, the movie and TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and live-action TV. The company’s special effects are state-of-the-art, and it pioneered interactive role-playing video games. Anderman said he is thrilled to be along for the ride.


We Trust Instead, by David Weis, and District 9.

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