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California garage owner has bold argument against 'Batman' copyright claim

The owner of a car shop called Gotham Garage in Santa Ana, California, has come up with a rather bold argument for why Warner Bros. Entertainment's copyright infringement lawsuit against him should not be allowed to proceed.

The car shop owner makes replicas of the Batmobile that was used in the 1960s TV show. His claim is that Warner Bros. does not have standing to sue him, since there is almost no design connection between the Batmobile as represented in the TV show and the Batmobile represented in DC Comics (which Warner Bros. owns.). Therefore, he claims, he should be granted summary judgment.

It is something of a bold argument because in the process of denying that Gotham Garage's replica Batmobiles are based on the DC Comics Batmobile, it seems to admit that they are based on the TV show Batmobile.

The judge is expected to rule Jan. 30. It will be interesting to see whether summary judgment is indeed granted or whether the case has to go to trial.

For what it's worth, Gotham Garage also makes replicas of other vehicles made famous in movies and TV shows, such as Herbie the Love Bug and the Mach 5 from the cartoon "Speed Racer." As far as we know, none of those replicas have generated lawsuits the way the Batmobile has.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Judge to Rule on Batmobile Copyright Suit This Month," Jan. 3, 2012

  • In our Sacramento office, we help clients with matters pertaining to trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets. If the content of this post has made you curious about copyrights, we invite you to visit the Copyright page on our website for more information.

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