Back about a month ago, Hong Kong-based Wicked Lasers introduced a new blue laser. This new handheld toy, built from a Casio projector, emits 1W of cerulean laser beam goodness. That's enough to burn holes in various substances, permanently blind yourself (or the neighbor's cat), and according to Wicked Lasers, the Arctic Spyder III Pro has a range of over 100 miles. At $199, it's a veritable bargain, particularly considering that the company's second-most-powerful laser, the Fusion Series S3 Spyder, is $999 for a paltry 500mW.
, however, is not impressed. Ol' George's legal team took one look at the Spyder III Pro and promptly issued a cease-and-desist letter to Wicked Lasers, arguing that their lasers infringe on the classic Star Wars lightsaber and could cause customer confusion. They further note that the Arctic Spyder III is "a highly dangerous product with the potential to cause blindness, burns and other damage to people and/or property." We agree with Lucasfilm, insomuch as a 1W laser that can set people on fire is more dangerous than a plastic lightsaber that might be used for a little light bludgeoning.
Much of what makes the Spyder III look like a lightsaber is common to the design of <i>all</i> hand-held devices, from electric screwdrivers to cat-blasting blue beams of death. It sports a power switch, a cap that limits energy output until removed, and a specialized handgrip, presumably to avoid throwing at one's TV while using it as a modified Wiimote. Read the definition of a lightsaber as relayed by the ever-trustworthy Wookiepedia and it's clear the Spyder III doesn't even come close.
A lightsaber functions by first focusing a plasma stream on a crystal or series of crystals. From there: "the plasma was sent through a series of field energizers and modulation circuitry within the emitter matrix that further focused it, making it into a coherent beam of energy that was projected from the emitter. The blade typically extended about a meter before being arced by the blade containment field back to a negatively charged fissure ringing the emitter, where it was channeled back to the power cell by a superconductor, completing the circuit."
Lightsabers can chop off limbs, block solid projectiles and energy blasts, and function perfectly underwater. They're capable of cutting through almost every known alloy or metal, they cauterize wounds, and they make a really cool sound when activated. Unless trained on an inanimate object or a person in a walker, the Spyder Pro III can't do any of those things.
Lucas' legal beagles have nothing to worry about. We'd love to own an Arctic Spyder III Pro, but it's not even a tenth as cool as owning an actual lightsaber
would be. For that reason alone, we think George's precious copyrights and trademarks are perfectly safe.