A federal judge has ruled that Batmobile replicas built by Mark Towle, of Gotham Garage, do, in fact, infringe on copyrights and trademarks held by Warner Bros.

Towle's attorney, Larry Zerner, argued that US copyright law doesn't allow "useful articles" to be copyrighted. Zerner, in court documents, insisted that Warner Brothers' lawsuit claimed the entire Batmobile was protected including doors, seats and tires. The judge agreed, but ruled the law does allow copyrighting of unique design elements of useful articles.

"The implications of a ruling upholding this standard are easy to imagine," Zerner wrote. "Ford, Toyota, Ferrari and Honda would start publishing comic books so that they could protect what, up until now, was unprotectable."

US District Judge Ronald Lew disagreed and ruled that, "The Batmobile is a character and exists in both two- and three-dimensional forms. Its existence in three-dimensional form is the consequence of the Batmobile's portrayal in the 1989 live-motion film and 1966 television series.

"Defendant did not copy the design of a mere car; he copied the Batmobile character," Lew continued. "The fact that the unauthorized Batmoble replicas that Defendant manufactured – which are derivative works – may be 'useful articles' is irrelevant. A derivative work can still infringe the underlying copyrighted work even if the derivative work is not independently entitled to copyright protection."

Zerner did, however, duck part of the lawsuit that asserted he willfully infringed on Warner's rights. The judge wrote that Zerner did at least wait until the design patents on the cars expired, and therefore didn't think copyright law applied.

Meanwhile we look forward to the Ferrari comic books.

The entire 54-page court ruling can be read here in PDF form.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      NY EVO X MR GUY
      • 1 Year Ago
      Holy copyright and trademark infringement Batman.
      crshcrstr
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a relief! now people won't be tricked into buying this batmobile instead of the one that DC sells.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        autoblogfan
        • 1 Year Ago
        For how long? Perpetuity?
          cdwrx
          • 1 Year Ago
          @autoblogfan
          This is the concern I have about this ruling. I'm curious how the Cobra replica cases were decided. I believe that too went in favor of the original designer (Shelby.)
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      to your email L
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm why isn't Ford suing Warner Bros. since it was originally a Ford concept car the Lincoln Futura.
        cangelo629
        • 1 Year Ago
        @to your email L
        Because Ford gave up rights of the car and additional designs arriving out of the Lincoln Futura For $1.00 when they sold it To George Barris. It Is published on line If you Google it you might have to dig threw the info you will find the exact copy of the bill of sale. .FORD had to do this so that Barris could infact redesign the car and it also Free FORD from any liability...The Lincoln Futura was sitting outside in a back lot in California after returning from Europe back in 1959 after making the movie IT STARTED WITH A KISSand was starting to deteriate. Their are photos showing how Barris received the car it was pretty well worn by then
      plewdawg
      • 1 Year Ago
      this was a no brainer. Should of cut them in.
      car4068043
      • 1 Year Ago
      The 1966 Batmobile was, still is and always will be the best looking model ever produced for either TV or movies and if I could afford one Id damn well have it in my driveway!
        aldebaran042363
        • 1 Year Ago
        @car4068043
        i heard some guy bought the real deal for $4.2 M, and he parked it in his living room.
      chris
      • 1 Year Ago
      darn it i wanted a batmobile
        Fiberglass Freaks
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chris
        There is a licensed company that builds 1966 Batmobiles. check out www.fiberglassfreaks.com
      buknekkid
      • 1 Year Ago
      No wonder we're going to crap in this country. A judge took 54 pages to say: NO, you can't build these cars. What a waste of taxpayer money.
      Sam Hoober
      • 1 Year Ago
      DC Comics was the plaintiff in the suit, not Warner Brothers. Further in the ruling, the judge writes Warner wasn't connected to the suit at all. Felt it bore mentioning.
      Paul
      • 1 Year Ago
      " BAM " BIFF
      Kenny
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Batmobile is pure junk.
        jay917
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kenny
        It looks cool as hell though..If someone GAVE it too you, you would drive it...
          buknekkid
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jay917
          I would drive it every day every place I went. You'd have one up on Rodney Dangerfield, drive up to your country club in the Batmobile. Can't beat that.
        HAT1701D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kenny
        The original is more than just a car from a T.V. show. It is also the legacy of a concept car in the form of the Lincoln Futura, the only one ever built. It was anything but a piece of junk. It was a 1950's rolling piece of automotive concept art that got it's chance at a second life as the Batmobile in the 60's. 4.2 million dollars at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, AZ. can't be wrong.
      beverlyamy1
      • 1 Year Ago
      holy batshit.
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