"Stars Wars" producer George Lucas struck out in court here yesterday in his bid to stop the use of his blockbuster movie's name in an advertisement selling President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.
At the same time, a television ad war, in which both sides are using the name of the film to describe the missile defense system, intensified.
After a hearing here, U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell refused to issue a 10-day temporary restraining order blocking the use of the name in the ad, which is sponsored by the Coalition for the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Several hours later, a group opposed to the Reagan plan announced that it had started a new round of television ads, which not only call the plan "Star Wars" but use footage from the ad that prompted Lucas' suit.
"This is beginning to look like a farce," said retired Army lieutenant general Daniel O. Graham, the leading advocate of the antimissile proposal, whose ad started the whole imbroglio. "Well, I guess that's life in the putty-knife factory . . . I think we certainly have struck fire."
The suit, filed by Lucasfilm Ltd., accused Graham and his political ad makers of trademark infringement and unfair trade practices. Both the administration and Graham have indicated a preference for the name Strategic Defense Initiative.
But Marianne Mele Hall, a lawyer for the coalition, said it used the name "Star Wars" at the beginning of its 30-second commercial because the proposal is widely called by that name "even though we have opposed the use of the words."
Gesell ruled that the advertisement "does not appear to be a commercial use of plaintiff's trademark."
He set a hearing for Nov. 25 on more extensive arguments for a preliminary injunction. But Graham said his ads are scheduled to stop before that date. He said they are timed to have an impact on next week's summit meeting in Geneva between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Meanwhile, Richard Pollock, a leader of the Committee for a Strong Peaceful America, which also calls itself the Peace Media Project, announced that his group had started running its own anti-"Star Wars" ad on television here yesterday.
He said the ad was produced by political filmmaker Robert Squier for $9,000. He said the $15,000 needed to run it this week on three Washington television stations was raised by the Committee for National Security, headed by Paul Warnke, who served as arms control negotiator for President Carter.
Graham, whose ad featured childlike crayon drawings, praised Gesell as "a very wise judge." But he said he may file suit soon against the makers of the new ad for using copyrighted material.
"That cartoon stuff cost me a lot of money," he remarked. "If they want to pay us enough, we'd let them do it . . . I've asked our lawyers to look into it."