DC Comics Wins Batmobile Legal Case


Custom car builder Mark Towle had been battling DC Comics for years over whether his derivative Batmobile replicas infringed on DC Comics' Batmobile from comics, movies, etc. Towle's lawyers argued that the cars were not necessarily exact copies and therefore no actual copyright infringement had occurred, but DC Comics argued that Towle's cars (from which he had made over $200,000) were obviously derived from the copyrighted and trademarked world of Batman, and so whether exact copies or not, without a license from the copyright holder, Towle was in copyright violation.

The case started in 2011, was judged in 2013 in DC Comics favor, and then went into appeal. Judge Sandra Ikuta at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finalized the case with a humorous decision that quotes the Adam West TV show, among other things:

“As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,’” Judge Ikuta adds with almost fangirl fervor, along with references to James Bond, “Gotham City’s most notorious evildoers,” and the Batmobile having the “most up-to-date weaponry and technology.” Seriously. “Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed upon DC’s property rights when he produced unauthorized derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture.” Judge Ikuta, along with Judges Michael Melloy and Jay Bybee, also rejected the argument about the Batmobile Towle was selling not being the same as in the comics. “As a copyrightable character, the Batmobile need not have a consistent appearance in every context, so long as the character has distinctive character traits and attributes.”

Coverage at Yahoo FInance News

Read the DC Comics vs Mark Towle Batmobile case legal brief online [PDF]


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Original Page Sep 26, 2015