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Supreme Court declines Batmobile case, upholds its copyright

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Holy copyright law, Batman. The US Supreme Court declined to hear a case about whether or not the Batmobile is subject to copyright. If it weren't, anyone could sell copies of the vehicle. However, this SCOTUS decision keeps in place an earlier ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, which finds that the Dark Knight's famous car has copyright protection. Therefore, DC Comics or its parent Warner Bros. need to grant permission before someone can sell one.

Mark Towle has been fighting a legal battle for years over the right to sell replicas of the 1966 and 1989 versions of the Batmobile. His company, Gotham Garage, offered them for around $90,000 each, but DC Comics sued in 2011 over alleged copyright infringement, according to CNBC.

Towle's lawyer argued that the Batmobile was just a car, so copyright protection didn't extend to the design. In 2013, a US District Court judge disagreed because the Caped Crusader's vehicle had a unique appearance and gadgets, which made it a character in the story. Towle appealed, but the appeals court agreed with the original ruling.

The late George Barris built the '66 Batmobile from the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept, which he bought from Ford for just $1 in 1965. Thanks to its connection with the popular TV show, the customizer's creation became one of the most famous vehicles ever on TV. The Dark Knight's iconic ride sold for $4.62 million at Barrett-Jackson in 2013.

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