Batmobile is Copyright Protected

“Holy copyright law, Batman!” The Batmobile is protected by more than its tank-like armor and front-mounted cannon.  The Batmobile has copyright protect, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court ruled Wednesday that replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 movie, “Batman,” by Garage Gotham and owner Mark Towle violate the copyrights of DC Comics.

The court found the Batmobile character has distinctive elements that are entitled to copyright protection.

The court held that DC Comics did not transfer its underlying rights when it licensed rights to produce derivative works for the movies and TV.

Towle produces replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 TV show and the 1989 movie as part of his business, Gotham Garage.

The cars are not toys but automobiles that sell for $90,000 to avid car collectors.  He also sells kits that allow customers to modify their cars to look like the Batmobile.

Towle was not authorized by DC Comics to manufacture and sell the products, according to the court.

Towle argued that DC Comics did not own copyrights to the Batmobile as it appeared in either projection.

“As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,’” Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote for the unanimous panel.  Judge Jay Bybee and visiting Judge Michael Melloy of the 8th Circuit joined her.

Case: DC Comics v. Towle, No. 13-55484


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