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Batmobile Is Protected by Copyright, Court Finds

DC Comics prevails in case against replica car maker

To the Batcave — for a celebration!

DC Comics has prevailed in a copyright case involving Batman’s iconic ride, the Batmobile, with an appeals court panel deciding that the comics company indeed holds the copyright to the vehicle.

The decision, handed down Wednesday, affirms an earlier ruling from district court.

The case stems from replica Batmobiles being sold by Mark Towle via his company Gotham Garage. Towle had been selling replicas of the car as it appeared in the 1960s television series and the 1989 movie.

DC sued Towle in 2011, but Towle contended that the car as it appeared on the show and in the movie wasn’t subject to copyright protection or, alternately, that DC didn’t own the copyright for the Batmobile as it appeared in those productions.

The appeals court panel, however, saw things differently.

“There is no dispute that DC is the original creator of the Batmobile character,” Wednesday’s decision reads, adding that DC “did not transfer its underlying rights to the Batmobile character” by licensing the rights to other parties.

“DC therefore owns the copyright in the Batmobile character,” the panel added.

The panel, which clearly included a few Batman fans, found, “As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential …. Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed  upon DC”s property rights when he produced unauthorized derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture. Accordingly, we affirm the district court.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.