Pow! Unlicensed Batmobile Replicas Banned by Copyright Claims

By James O Malley on at

The Joker couldn't stop him. The Penguin couldn't stop him. And not even Bane breaking his back managed to stop him, but now it appears that a US judge has found a way to prevent Batman from fighting crime: Copyright laws.

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for Central California has ruled in favour of DC Comics, which was suing replica car maker Mark Towle and his company Gotham Garage, for producing unauthorised Batmobiles as well as other famous cars from films and TV.

Until now, Gotham Garage had been able to make you your very own 60s style, or 1989 style Batmobile - but the court has now ruled that the design of the iconic vehicles falls under copyright laws.

The Register reports that the three judge panel: "held that the Batmobile, as it appeared in the Batman comic books, television series, and motion picture, was entitled to copyright protection because this automotive character was a sufficiently distinctive element of the works".

Interestingly, copyright law in the US states that not every character in a work necessarily falls under copyright law, as they have to meet a standard of being "especially distinctive". Unfortunately for Gotham Garage, a car covered in black fins with a rocket booster on the back seems to easily meet this criteria. So now if the Garage wants to continue, it will need to officially obtain permission from DC.

The judges wryly concluded apparently by quoting the Caped Crusader himself. "As Batman so sagely told Robin," the ruling concludes, "In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential." [The Register]