Batmobile Copyright Case: ‘Supreme Court’ Denial in Batmobile Case Leaves Test Intact

Updated: March 8, 2016
Batmobile Copyright Case: Supreme Court Denial in Batmobile Case Leaves Test Intact

Batmobile Copyright Appeal Case Denied Supreme Justice.

DC Comics claimed victory Monday after the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a copyright case involving a Temecula mechanic who produced replicas of the Batmobile.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the Batmobile’s appearance and high-tech gadgets make it a character that can’t be duplicated without permission from DC Comics, a unit of Warner Bros., which holds the copyright, reported the Associated Press.

DC Comics had sued custom car maker Mark Towle in 2011 for selling replicas of Batmobiles from the 1960s TV series and 1989 Tim Burton film. Towle, who sold his replicas for $90,000 each, lost the case and later appealed, arguing that the Batmobile doesn’t fall under copyright protection because it’s a functional object rather than art.

In September, a California appeals court affirmed the earlier court’s ruling that the Batmobile is entitled to copyright protection.

“As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,’” Judge Sandra Ikuta of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote at the time. “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.”

Batmobile creator George Barris died in November at the age of 89. Barris built the Batmobile from a refurbished 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura. The vehicle was sold at auction more than two years ago for $4.2 million.