Very few people have crossed Batman without feeling a swift kick from justice. Take for example, the Batmobile maker who was sued by DC Comics for trademark infringement. The Gotham Garage Business made almost $200,000 by creating replicas of the vehicle famous for chasing down villains. According to the lawsuit, the replicas depict the same vehicles used in the 1989 movie and 1960s television series.
The owner of the Gotham Garage Business attempted to defend himself, claiming the cars were not “exact” replicas or works of art afforded copyright protections. However, the three-judge panel presiding over the Ninth Circuit of Appeals thought otherwise.
Ultimately, the three-judge panel declared the Batmobile was its own character, and was entitled to copyright protections. The court arrived at this decision by using a three-part test, which included determining the following information.
- To be afforded copyright protections, characters must have both physical and conceptual qualities.
- It must be a character that is “recognized across time”. The Batmobile goes back to the 60s using different models, yet people still recognize it.
- It must have distinctive traits and attributes. In this case, that means side-mounted guns, grappling hooks and ejection seats used to defeat Tommy gun-wielding clowns like the Joker.
For Batman fans with money to burn, the devastating news means they will be unable to live out their dreams of pretending to be the famous caped crusader, righting wrongs while driving around in style.
Why Is The Batmobile Important to DC Comics?
Like many other comic book characters, Batman has become a multibillion-dollar franchise. It is unsurprising DC Comics would become involved in trademark litigation, given the profits Batman has created for the company. Like many other companies who are defending intellectual property valued in the billions of dollars, no legal battle is “too small”.
Klein Trial Lawyers defends the intellectual property of businesses in the Los Angeles area. For more information on Klein Trial Lawyers, continue exploring our website. For future updates on our blog, follow us on Facebook.