DC Comics and the batmobile has seen many alterations over the past 75 years it’s been around. One question that DC Comics dealing with is the legal case over unlicensed replicas based on the 1966 and 1989 versions of the Batmobile, which were called into question whether DC had the right to copyright the car. Turns out, despite the myriad redesigns, they do.
DC’s lawsuit with Mark Towle, the owner of “Gotham Garage”, a manufacturer of replica cars from movies and TV—specifically the Batmobiles from 1966’s Batman TV show and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie—has been going on for the last four years.
In addition to its status as ‘a highly-interactive vehicle, equipped with high-tech gadgets and weaponry used to aid Batman in fighting crime,’ the Batmobile is almost always bat-like in appearance, with a bat-themed front end, bat wings extending from the top or back of the car, exaggerated fenders, a curved windshield, and bat emblems on the vehicle. This bat-like appearance has been a consistent theme throughout the comic books, television series, and motion picture, even though the precise nature of the bat-like characteristics have changed from time to time.
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.
DC is going all in against Towle and now that the argument was declined DC is going to seek a permanent injunction that prevents the re-production of any Batmobile replicas along with the destruction of every Batmobile in Gotham Garage’s ownership, and damages of around $750,000 per car.