Starfleet Imports

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Name: Starfleet Imports
Date(s): 1980s (disbanded in 1982)
Profit/Nonprofit: profit
Country based in: USA
Focus: Star Trek
External Links:
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Starfleet Imports was a Star Trek fan-run merchandise company. It sold posters and fiction.

The business was owned and run by Syn Ferguson.

Ad for the zine in Ferguson's Starfleet Imports catalog

What It Sold

The Courts of Honor Poster

There were 4000 posters printed for Courts of Honor. [1]

The poster was offered for sale in mid-1982. From one ad:

'Courts of Honor' covers, painted by Sat Nam Kaur Keahey, is available as a 21 " x 29" four-color poster. An action collage of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy with scenes of flying and bull-leaping taken from the novel. Nothing erotic, just great Trek! Printed on heavy, glossy stock, mailed in a cardboard tube.[2]

In the October 1982 issue of Interstat, Syn Ferguson wrote of a letter regarding this poster, and of larger implications:

I'm writing because I think someone should let the fen know about the new attitude taken by Gulf+Western, the conglomerate that owns Paramount. STARFLEET fan club recently received a typical threatening attorney's letter from Bruce Hosmer, Associate Patent Counsel for G+W, with regard to our fund-raising project, which involves a 22" x 30" full color poster of the cover of COH. Evidently Sat Ham's beautiful art, and the professional print job led Hosmer to believe STARFLEET was a large corporation raking in big bucks, of which G+W wanted a share. That is not the case, of course, and not my point. After all these years of total disinterest in the activities (and opinions) of fandom, it seems that we're being recognized. This is the form the recognition took. Unlicensed use of Paramount's design patents can result in damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees. G+W demands to know the date of manufacture/sale of such items, a list of items sold, the sales price of each, the names and addresses of each person or company to whom items were sold, ditto for items purchased, names and addresses of persons involved in this "business", and plans for recalling any infringing merchandise. purchaser could find herself In legal hot water. And oven if the old rule holds true: there's no point in suing a pauper, i.e., if no profit was made, it's not likely G+W would waste time suing, there is still the possibility of damages being awarded. They wouldn't get far on my typewriter and a car largely held together by duct tape, but they have time and money to spare to prove their point—and I don't… Quite apart from legal considerations, there are ethical ones involved. "Everyone's been doing it for years" is not much of a foundation for an ethical stand in support of fanzines, but practically, fanzines and fan art, or the sale of stationary or posters is no competition at all for Paramount. It does them no harm. Quite the reverse, fans kept Star Trek alive when Paramount didn't give a damn, and they have now realized sweet profits on our fidelity. And there are literary precedents for the continuance of a heroic saga—see the El Cid cycles in Spain, for example. My conscience doesn't twinge a bit because I write Trek, or because people are willing to pay me to do it. If Paramount/Pocket Books/Gulf+Western were meeting that need, no one would, and I would write it for myself alone. Where I feel a concern is that demand to supply a list of purchasers. I guarantee it would take a court order to make me do it, and not just a demand from a large corporation…..Having corresponded with my readers, I know some of them are preacher's wives who keep their zines in the attic. It could be disastrous if they began receiving communications from Gulf+Western. It may be that after the mailing of COH I will simply dispose of my mailing list and never accept another order from someone who doesn't come personally recommended. That would make Trek underground indeed. If everyone felt that way, and if G+W does get tough, it would put INTERSTAT, UT, and FORUM out of business. What a shame, what a waste. What a loss to Paramount if new fans couldn't plug in to the exciting world of zines and letterzines and the community of fandom.[3]

In March 1983, Eric A. Stillwell, a fan club president, made this clarification:

I would like to refer to the letter by Syn Ferguson in I#60. Syn is a dear friend and she does hours of volunteer work for STARFLEET. Her assistance is invaluable. Her letter in I#60, however, is not entirely correct. The letter from Gulf+Western which she refers to was addressed to: "Starfleet Imports, c/o Syn Ferguson." "Starfleet Imports" was an independent enterprise headed up by Syn before it disbanded last fall. Syn was not and is not a member of STARFLEET, therefore the connection between it and G+W is a fallacy. After "Starfleet Imports" disbanded, all merchandise was donated to STARFLEET for use in fundraisers. To this date, Gulf+Western has not once approached STARFLEET on this subject, nor have they ever questioned our activities in this area. After all, we are a fan club. This may not have been clear in my letter, or in Syn's...[4]

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  1. ^ from a letter by Eric A. Stillwell in Interstat #93
  2. ^ from Judy Miller in Universal Translator #15
  3. ^ from Interstat #60
  4. ^ from Interstat #65