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DC wins Batmobile ruling

Published: September 25, 2015

DC Comics has prevailed in a suit brought in 2011 against Mark Towle's Gotham Garage for producing Batmobile replicas.


A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld DC Comics’ copyright interest with Circuit Judge Sandra S. Ikuta quoting Batman: “As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential.’


“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. Accordingly, we affirm the district court.”


Ikuta cited the case of the copyrighted vehicle “Eleanor” in Gone in 60 Seconds, which was judged a copyrighted character in 2008. She also made comparisons to Godzilla and James Bond as “especially distinctive” depictions.


Towle has several options for appeal. However, DC’s ability to defend its intellectual property rights is essential to its licensing strategy.