Back in September we reported that Warner Bros. and Gotham Garage could not see eye to eye when it comes to replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles and needed to work things out in court. This battle has been going on for the past five years.
This morning The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a ruling concerning copyright law of the Batmobile. It was ruled that the Batmobile isn’t merely an automobile, but rather distinctive enough to warrant copyright protection.
Mark Towle, who previously created unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 for Gotham Garage created Batmobile replicas and argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function”. Unfortunately The U.S. Supreme Court does not agree with Towle, which means Gotham Garage has violated Warner Bros. trademarks and copyrights by manufacturing the replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, which he sold for about $90,000 each.
Towle insisted that the U.S. Copyright Office states outright that automobiles aren’t copyrightable, and that the Ninth Circuit simply created an arbitrary exception. He also argued that there have been “dozens” of Batmobiles in DC comic books over the decades that “vary dramatically in appearance and style” — so much so that the vehicle doesn’t have the “consistent, widely-identifiable, physical attributes” required to be considered a “character.”
What do you think? Should Warner Bros. be able to copyright the Batmobile? We would love to know your thoughts in the comment section below.