Lucasfilm seized my Master Replica props

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Ketzer.com, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    This is good.

    I am expecting two original Master Replicas .45 scale Star Wars lightsabers for my son's first birthday in the mail.

    Today, I receive a letter in the mail, from customs: They confiscated the lightsabers on behalf of Lucasfilm Germany, since they believe the items are unlicensed.

    So I called them and asked them what was going to happen next.
    Lucasfilm's attorney here in Germany will inspect the Lightsabers, and if they find they are real, I will receive them. If they are counterfeit, they will destroy them.
    Either way, I should be receiving a letter from Lucasfilm's German attorney soon.

    They must be bored or something.

    I'll keep you guys posted.

    Oh, I may need somebody here to send me a new one in case teh first two get destroyed...

    Tim
     
    mcsurgeon likes this.
  2. Darth Domain

    Darth Domain Well-Known Member

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    Wow. looks like they are really clamping down, i assume they are licensed?
    This is all AA's fault, he's brought the un licensed bashers out.
     
  3. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    Yes, These are .45 scale MR lightsabers. New in box. (I will edit my post up there)

    Tim
     
  4. Star Wars Helmets

    Star Wars Helmets Sr Member

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    Blame AA, Blame AA

    Burn the Witch.

    :lol
     
  5. Darth Domain

    Darth Domain Well-Known Member

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    :lol
     
  6. nash

    nash Well-Known Member

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    Thats pretty Lame, how stupid of Lucasfilm for wasting time on small fish. Why would you go after two .45 minis worth about $50? thats just retarded to me. lol. Im sorry to hear about the delay in your sabers, i hope you will get them faster than MR does their QC inspections :)
     
  7. Funky

    Funky Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    WTF??? :confused
     
  8. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    Regarding the "delay": these left the US on March 1, by priority mail. Customs waited three weeks before contacting me.

    Tim
     
  9. GundamZeppelin

    GundamZeppelin Sr Member

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    wow :confused Lucasfilm Germany should work in airports nothing gets past them. :lol
     
  10. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

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    But wouldn't that put the airports out of business, since none are allowed through to or from the planes? :lol

    That's really crazy... original licenced props held back for scrutiny... and for so long. what's next?
     
  11. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I don't know anything about copyright laws in Germany but those props are YOURS. If they had been unlicenced, YOU wouldn't have broken the law by buying them, would you?

    I very much doubt that the EXISTENCE of unlicenced props is illegal. I imagine you may have some kind of "consumer rights" representatives in Germany. If so, give them a call. Give your customs officials a call too and politely ask them how they can do that and explain.

    We need to keep on top of this or it could potentially ruin our hobby in the long term. I imagine that most of the same people making/buying unlicenced fan-made stuff are the same people shelling out hundreds of dollars for licenced replicas several times a year. IP owners should really think twice about coming down hard on them or they may be shooting themselves in the foot. As long as fans keep it low-key, low-run and don't do it to make tons of $ then they would be well advised to keep their radars aimed higher.

    The sad thing is (and it's the same in every entertainment-related industry) that these situations usually end up hurting loyal fans and customers. :(
     
  12. SithLord

    SithLord Sr Member

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    I think it may be just LFL Germany following the law by the letter....likely an anomaly and not represenative of a world-wide crackdown...or it might just be directed to sales of SW items between the USA and Europe? It should be interesting if someone in another EU country experiences the same thing...but it is reasonable to assume that it is a result of the LFL action against AA. It's really LFL's decision, blaming AA is like blaming any other unlicensed producer. I'm sure there was the same fear after GF got stuck by LFL...was he blamed as well? I don't know....

    T
     
  13. yakcam

    yakcam Sr Member

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    WOW..., that sucks mate, I hope it's resolved soon :(

    Cheers,

    Kraig
     
  14. Star Wars Helmets

    Star Wars Helmets Sr Member

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    I very much doubt this is part of a LFL clampdown, more likely a local mis-undertstanding

    If Lucas wanted to stop the trade in unlicensed replicas then step one would be simply to close down each and every unlicensed Ebay sale via the VERO programme. A team of just a few people could effectively wipe out a huge slice of all non-licensed trading.

    Cheers

    Jez
     
  15. Spiker

    Spiker Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Tim told me there was no invoice in the parcel because it is a gift for his son. It's like "Big game hunting" for german customs to hold every parcel with missing invoice. If the invoice is not includet in the parcels you can wait up to 4 weeks until you hear anything of it (no matter if priority or overnight or anything...).

    Then you get a small green letter that you can get your parcel from the local customs office if you bring the invoice...

    Tim called them claiming it is a gift and there is NO invoice at all and they said if he just returns the green letter he will get his parcel delivered by german post.
    I guess that attracted their attention to the case.

    The next thing he got was the letter from the customs with the Lucasfilm-Explanation... his 2 MR minis are now on the way to a "specialist" at Lucasfilm Germany to get prooved...

    The whole thing is more than ridicoulus and i cannnot agree more with joatrash when he sais that could be dangerous for the whole hobby.
    Imagine you have a real screenused prop on the way being a thousands of dollars worth being destroyed by customs ??
    Personally i am a little feared now to buy fanmade props out of the US and thats quite sad :(
     
  16. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Are they really allowed to do that- send them away and then possibly destroy them without some form of "appeal"? If so, that is very scary.
     
  17. Spiker

    Spiker Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yes they are. They are the law.
     
  18. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    :confused Well this incident is a prime example that they are indeed illegal.

    Some Studios protect their property more zealously than others.

    I hope you get your Mini's quickly Tim.
     
  19. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Well, there´s the catch . If you have a screenused prop worth thousands of dollars, you´d have nothing to fear if you include the invoice for it. And pay a nice 25% customs import fee. That is what customs are after, no more, no less. And of course that is the reason most of us ask the sender to not include an invoice in the packaging.

    I had more than a few discussions with customs clerks over the value of a few things that friends from all over the world had sent me as gifts, and when I told them that I don´t know what exactly is in that package, they even tried to trick me into saying something about the contents, to prove that I was lying .

    I am always torn between saving a few bucks and have a package insured below real value, or just do it the regular and correct way.

    Michael
     
  20. Spiker

    Spiker Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If you take some exact copies ot the 0.45 MR mini saber you are right. But what is with a real Graflex for example... i can't imagine that Lucasfilm has the copyright on these (just the flashes). Maybe on the thing with grips and the other additional stuff includet but not on the Graflex itself. And even that is hard to believe.
    They should ask themselves who stole from who... i wonder if they ever asked Tamiya back in that time for using hundreds of their kitparts or Graflex, MPP, Rolls Royce etc. if they may use their products in their props...
    It would be interesting to have a definition where is the real frontiere here.
     
  21. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That would probably also mean that they could come into your house and confiscate ANYTHING depicting something unlicenced. Including your photo album of real props.

    But like I said, I know nothing about c-laws in Germany, but I doubt they'd be able to do it like this in a lot of other european countries. It's one thing to confiscate directly from the seller, but from a possibly unknowing customer? On the other hand, officials often do things like this even if they're not really allowed to. If you protest, you get buried in red tape.

    It's like with pirated computer progams. Actually owning copies isn't a crime in a lot of countries. It's installing and using them that breaks the law.
     
  22. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You are correct and that HAS been done by a Major Studio already.

    Sucks huh?.
     
  23. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I know I agree with you on LFL not having the copyright on the Gra-flex's.

    I would assume that they argue that how, ie grips, d-ring, calculator bubbles, the Gra-flex's ARE modified is their copyright.
     
  24. Spiker

    Spiker Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    @Joatrash: They told Tim on the phone that the sabers will be checked at Lucasfilm Germany. If they are not licensed (which is totally impossible in this case) they will be destroyed. If they are licensed they have to decide if he may have them. Yes thats right: They actually told him that if he does not have the right to import these, they will be destroyed. They reffered to contracts between Lucasfilm and German distributors (which is absurd because there are no contracts regarding merchandise, don't now about DVDs, but definetly not for merchandise)
     
  25. rad1701

    rad1701 Sr Member

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    What a complete waste of time and money. Hey, don't they have something stamped right on the boxes that says licensed by Lucasfilm? Here's a question... Say you make your own prop lightsaber. But you decide to give it to someone as a gift - no money exchanged. Is that illegal?
     
  26. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

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    That's really insane. If he bought the items as a individual no such permission is required. That would be a misinterpretation of the law that is directed towards retailers and businesses.
     
  27. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    It has apollo? Really scary. Please feel free to elaborate (via PM if you wish). :)

    I also think there might be truth to what NoHumorMan is saying. I'm also really stumped that German authoraties would place unlicenced props in almost the same category as narcotics.

     
  28. atacpdx

    atacpdx Well-Known Member

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    Wow. What a mess. Sounds like this is more about protecting German dealers and their markets though than cracking down on bootlegs. Good luck, hope they clear your sabers.
     
  29. MikeyX

    MikeyX Well-Known Member

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    That sounds really horrible - sorry to hear about that.

    In the UK customs have way too much power IMHO. If they decide that you shouldn't get something then they can impound it and you have to fill out a bunch of forms and red tape. If they still decide you shouldn't have it then you have to take it to court - where you will almost certainly lose and face a big bill as well as the item being destroyed.

    I once had an MR lightsaber display case impounded by UK customs. It had a customs declaration, and an invoice that showed the amount paid (about $60 or so). Three weeks after they impounded it they contacted me about it and basically accused me of lying about the value. It took me filling out a bunch of forms, sending three letters with photographs of what it would be used for and links to eBay auctions for similar value, two long phone calls, and over a month of time before they finally relented. I was only one step away from having to take it to court (which I would not have done as I'm sure I would have lost). The last person I spoke to stated that the fact I was calm and polite the whole time helped my case.

    As an aside the first phone call was hilarious as I found myself trying to explain what a replica lightsaber display case is to someone who hadn't even seen Star Wars....

    That said I have had a whole bunch of stuff sent to me, and besides this, and being over-charged on customs fees I have had no problems. I never get people to declare below value or leave out the invoice BTW.
     
  30. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

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    I see no reason to do so either. Such type of "cheating" only results in the customs tightening their procedures and then no one is safe.
     
  31. tripoli

    tripoli Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The problem with international pirated materials is that some countries like China are notorious now for producing fake licensed packaged products. Especially in the movie and software products.
    I would hazard to guess that to combat issues like that, Germany now looks to properly licensed distributors to combat illegal distribution. Someone in imports has picked SW products to be looked into.
    Depending on the depth of bureaucracy, I think that will tell how hard of a time you will have with getting these through. Hopefully it will be quick. If not, I suggest you e-mail Lucas marketing directly and let them know the issue you are having. They may address it and in the long run make it a bit simpler to get MR products into Germany
     
  32. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    These are two licensed MR .45 Luke ANH sabers. In the original boxes.
    I seriously doubt they would know what a lightsaber is, if they saw one without the box.
    The lady I talked to on the phone was nice. She said there are a lot of bootleg articles like stuff from Adidas or Nike. I can see that. But bootlegging a 20 dollar toy?..?.?
    The form I have has some boxes checked. This is about copyright infringement on the brand of the item.
    Can't wait to hear what Lucasfilm will say about this in the letter I am supposed to get from them.

    Tim
     
  33. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wait a second.... this isn't going to end up being an April Fool's joke is it?
     
  34. agent5

    agent5 Sr Member

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    That's exactly what I was thinking, Joatrash. This seems WAAAAY to absurd to even begin to believe.

    Come into your house and take stuff? I think not. :angry You'd have to get past my cat and my shotgun first.
     
  35. LDR

    LDR Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    All sounds ridiculous. The UK customs charge huge import duty to which is a right pain for us people who order props from the US.

    Perhaps they should get these people to check planes etc for bombs, weapons and harmful items, rather than two lightsabres.
     
  36. agent5

    agent5 Sr Member

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    Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    There have been so many reposts lately in the media of our borders slipping up BIGtime lately. There are so many harmful things out there to be watching for and here they are busting balls on a couple of...well, basically toys. I mean, it's not like it's a huge container of illegal dvd's or something like that where it may be substantial. It's a couple of toys. Let it go and move on to something more pressing. Whatever guidlines they have in place simply are NOT working. When are they gunna get it?
     
  37. JHVanOphem

    JHVanOphem Well-Known Member

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    Well without knowing all the details, imagine the scenario like this.

    German customs get a box. No invoice. A sticker on the box declares the items inside contain "2 Star Wars lightsabres" and a value of $50.

    Well that seems way underpriced doesn't it? Star Wars stuff is expensive, especially lightsabres. Two of them? Well maybe they aren't legit. Lets find out from Lucasfilm then.

    So then the letter gets sent out saying they need to investigate this further as it doesn't seem right.

    No LFL cracking down. Just a customs agent who isn't knowledgeable or making an assumption.
     
  38. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yeah, most european countries make you pay VAT (sales tax) and what not when you order from abroad (and some charge lots more than the UK). The guys in the US have to pay too, but not as much I would guess.

    But come on... German customs thinking freakin' LIGHTSABERS were bootlegged and sending them off to Lucasfilm's lawyers for authentication.?.?

    It's either an April fool's joke or the world is really going insane.
     
  39. Darth Kahnt

    Darth Kahnt Sr Member

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    I agree Thomas, that was my inital thought as well.
     
  40. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

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    The world IS insane... we have only just realized. :angel



    Really hope you get your items... sooner rather than later...
     
  41. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Most people outside of the RPF think EVERYTHING that has to do with Star Wars is for kids and that most merchandise is in the form of toys. You go out on the street and show the average Joe a Luke Elite Edition and tell them what it cost. I guarantee you'll see some very wide eyes staring back at you. "Normal people" could never in their wildest dreams imagine what we pay for some of our toys. :)
     
  42. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    While I do think this whole thing is funny, it is NOT a joke. I actually got that letter today, and I called them today.

    Tim
     
  43. Megatron

    Megatron Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    sounds like lawyers fishing for problems and when they find one then the run it up to the main office to see if they can go ahead. You should write and email Lucas in the USA to say "hello I bought a present for my son "MR Mini-Sabers" and now am getting treated like I bought a bootleg item." They needed to have a catalog of what MR sells sent to them so they can see this IS a real copyrighted item.
     
  44. agent5

    agent5 Sr Member

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    What if he paid $50 for them from a private seller? I just don't understand how they can determine a cost other that what's listed. Who cares if they retailed for $500 if he only paid $50 privately. How are they to know?
     
  45. swhite228

    swhite228 Well-Known Member

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    I hope Tim get's his shipment.

    As for customs and LFL, it's possible that MR does not have a license to sell Star Wars products world wide, also customs would not have a list of every company and product Lucas has deals with.
    That would be why they would turn the items over to LFL Germany to make the final call.

    While that would be a really dumb move on MR's part it has happened to other companies due to cost, other vendors in an area, or just plain stupidity on the vendors part.

    In this day of ebay sales shipped all over the world there are still import laws that are in place. If you try and import an item that isn't licensed for sale in your area it can be siezed and destroyed, sad but true.

    Again I hope the mess is cleaned up soon and the package is delivered.
     
  46. darth_manu

    darth_manu Well-Known Member

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    very interesting, i hope everything goes out fine..

    and whats this talk of AA?
    what the heck is AA ? and why do we blame him?
    hah someone educate me
     
  47. Darth Kahnt

    Darth Kahnt Sr Member

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    See this thread...:

    http://www.rpf.invisionzone.com/index.php?...c=104869&hl=sds
     
  48. Ketzer.com

    Ketzer.com Sr Member

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    This is not because they think the item may not be sold here or something, the appearently believe this is not an original MR item.

    Tim
     
  49. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Even if it isn't an official item, are you really sure that they can sieze it from a private citizen not importing to resale? (just asking) :)



    I think that is very dependent of country. In many places, that could be a violation of fair trade agreements (not that I'm an expert). Sony tried to do the same with video game consoles- even taking vendors to court to stop paralell imports, but if I recall correctly they lost (but don't quote me on that). And look at importing DVDs. In many cases, I think such laws usually apply to businesses importing for the puropse of resale and cannot be enforced upon consumers bootleg item or not. But again, it varies according to country and "officials" often get over-zealous.

    Also, like has been said before- it would be insane of LFL to put a "task force" to work on this. I highly doubt that the replica-prop market is large enough to warrant such attention besides the occasional CaD to large-scale armor makers and the like. This is hopefully only the result of a new or over-active customs agent having a bad day. Like I said before, most people have no idea what a lightsaber is or could ever imagine that a metal tube with greeblies could be worth much.
     
  50. VegasVader

    VegasVader New Member

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    I've sent quite a bit of stuff to Europe and especially germany over the last year, and a lot of guys have been telling me that customs likes to "walk away" with anything marked "Collectable" I've sent several Holocrons over and most if not all of them got opened, even though they were marked as "Table Lamps" (To keep the morons from opening them) Fortunately, they each accept a 9V battery and glow with a pulse, so if they REALLY pushed it, they ARE table lamps, but god only knows what these guys use as excuses to steal other people stuff...

    Vegas Vader...
     

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