Tags: batmobile | copyright | appeal

Batmobile Copyright Appeal Case Denied Supreme Justice

Image: Batmobile Copyright Appeal Case Denied Supreme Justice
The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear a Batmobile copyright case appeal from a man who was building replicas of the Batmobile from the 1966 and 1989 films. This is one of the five custom-made Batmobiles from the 1989 film "Batman." (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

By    |   Monday, 07 Mar 2016 05:24 PM

The Supreme Court has decided against hearing an appeal on a Batmobile copyright case from Mark Towles, owner of Temecula, California-based customs shop Gotham Garage, who lost a copyright lawsuit to DC Comics in a lower court on whether or not the Batmobile was a copyrightable character.

The 2011 lawsuit filed with the California Central District Court accused Towles, who was fabricating and selling replicas of the 1966 and 1989 versions of the Batmobile for as much as $90,000, of violating DC Comics’ copyright of the Batmobile.

The defendant Towles’ motion to dismiss was denied by Judge Ronald S.W. Lew based on the arguments made. Towles appealed the decision.

In 2015, the United States Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Towles’ defense in each case argued that the Batmobile did not have copyright protection because it was a “usable” item, had too many iterations to be considered a “character,” and pertaining to DC Comics’ claim that they owned the copyright, the defense argued that the Batmobiles Towles was replicating were from productions licensed by another party.

However, the court found that the Batmobile was consistently “a highly-interactive vehicle, equipped with high-tech gadgets and weaponry used to aid Batman in fighting crime” and thus a distinct character eligible for copyright protection. This recognition also superseded Towles’ claim that the Batmobile was merely a usable item.

The court also found that the Batmobile’s “bat-like appearance has been a consistent theme throughout the comic books, television series, and motion picture, even though the precise nature of the bat-like characteristics have changed from time to time,” negating the defense that the variety of the Batmobile’s designs did not open water down the definition of the character of the Batmobile.

In regard to DC Comics’ claim to copyright, the court found for the plaintiff, stating, “A copyright owner also has the exclusive right to ‘authorize others to prepare derivative works based on their copyrighted works.’”

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The Supreme Court has decided against hearing an appeal on a Batmobile copyright case from Mark Towles, owner of Temecula, California-based customs shop Gotham Garage, who lost a copyright lawsuit to DC Comics in a lower court on whether or not the Batmobile was a copyrightable character.
batmobile, copyright, appeal
326
2016-24-07
Monday, 07 Mar 2016 05:24 PM
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