Jumping Lawsuits, Batman! Judge Declares Batmobile Is Subject to Copyright..

Discussion in 'DC Costumes and Props' started by Spoddy, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Spoddy

    Spoddy Member

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    Yup. Surprised this isn't posted here yet (and I searched)..

    Judge Declares Batmobile Is Subject to Copyright - Hollywood Reporter

    From the article:

    "Last year, DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., sued Mark Towles, who operated a business called "Gotham Garage," which sold imitation batmobiles. DC, represented by attorney Andy Coombs, accused Towles of violating its copyright and trademark and confusing the public into thinking that his cars were authorized products.

    Trademark is one thing, but can an automobile design really be copyrighted?

    According to U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew, it can if it's really special."
     
  2. fettster

    fettster Sr Member

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    It was posted here last year but I can't find the thread either. I wonder if he would have got sued if there wasn't a licenced 66 available
     
  3. mechagrover

    mechagrover New Member

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    Someone at WB got upset all ALL of the car sales they were losing out on...
     
  4. Funky

    Funky Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yup, it's been brought up before (I searched as well and couldn't find anything so no beatings for you!)
    It really doesn't surprise me at all. DC owns the franchise and anything attatched to it. It's OBVIOUSLY intended to be THE Batmobile, not just a strong resemblence.
     
  5. Spoddy

    Spoddy Member

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    I just goes to show that if you produce something that's not licensed and make enough money out of it (vs 1 off or very limited runs for a price), you'll pop up on the radar, and it's game over..
     
  6. ultron

    ultron Active Member

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    We desperately need copyright reform in this country.

    I have to imagine that if libraries hadn't already existed that they'd be ruled illegal if proposed today.
     
  7. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

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    Anything can be copyrighted.

    There is also design patents. Barris took out a design patent on the 66 batmobile.

    Copyright covers ownership and lost money. I suspect that's why they put in the part about confusing the public.

    Carroll Shelby is always suing people over copying the design of the Cobra sports car. He usually wins.
    When he lost it was because the replica maker said they made improvements to the design.

    So bragging that you have an exact copy can make you a target.
     
  8. 8 perf

    8 perf Sr Member

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    Since he is building one, someone needs to tell Matt Munson about this. Don't know who is body supplier was, but he flaked out on him a while back and Matt had to find an alternate source.
     
  9. Spoddy

    Spoddy Member

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    Already done... well in his thread. :)
     
  10. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Too bad this was not England, mark would have won
     
  11. MattMunson

    MattMunson Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yes, this is of course a hot topic among batmobile builders :)

    And guys, to be clear, there's WAY more going on here than was written in those two sentences pasted in the first post.

    If anything, this should put to rest a long standing myth in the car and prop builders world, that once a patent on an object expires, it's open season on reproducing it. I've been saying for years that there's a world of difference between patent/trademark/copyright. I guess now there's some proof.

    Also, keep in mind that the dude writing that article for the hollywood reporter probably has no idea what trademark or copyright is. The fact that he seemed surprised that a car design could have a copyright on it is ridiculous. of COURSE it can, and usually is. Otherwise, yugo wold be producing low end copies of bently designs, etc.
     
  12. MattMunson

    MattMunson Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    lol. Probably not, as the hook in the ainsworth case was that he had a hand (or so he claimed) in building/designing the armor for the movie, and therefore, under British law, he has a right to sell copies of it.
     
  13. MattMunson

    MattMunson Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That's not really the point of the lawsuit. It's not about revenue they lost on a competing product. It's about revenue that someone else made off WBs legally owned intellectual property. It's also about reputation.
     
  14. MattMunson

    MattMunson Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Again, without knowing the details of the suit, or the history, a claim like that is being made in a vacuum, and is false.

    I know first hand people who have gotten a C&D for producing ONE item, for themselves. Quantity and profit may factor into it, but the holders of the IP are free to pursue infringers as they see fit, for whatever reason. There's also people on the RPF who produce small runs of products with limited profits who get C&D'd, then sued.

    I think the real lesson to be learned from this case, which is VERY similar to the Coyle/Paramount case, is that when a studio issues you a C&D, you stop. Immediately. And move onto something else.
     
  15. Judge Spartan

    Judge Spartan Sr Member

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    Matt, does this make you nervous or will you be continuing with your build. I hope there are no issues for you so you can continue. BTW, did you find a new guy for a shell yet?
     
  16. tripoli

    tripoli Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    As Matt mentioned, Intellectual Property has its legal rights in full view of the courts and the courts do protect the owners. Generally, the BIG factor is someone making a profit off the item. Usually a builder will not get into trouble unless they are selling and making profit. But a studio can sue for any violation for any reason if they want to. Generally it is because A) someone made money off the IP, B) to protect a potential or active license, C) A lawyer feels the studio can make enough money off the suit to pursue such. d) because they want to protect the franchise.

    Some studios are amendment about protecting their IP. Others are more lax and look at it as free advertising. Generally, if there is money involved, the studios may want to get involved.

    There are ways to circumvent it, alter the design enough that you can claim it is a unique art work itself or show that the original work base came from another IP denominator, such as a graflex flash unit or other IP base product. Both defenses have their pitfalls.

    The law differ from state to state on IP in some cases depending on the type, trade secret, trademark, patent and copyrights. Technologies is considered a newer issue in IP law and there is gaining a high amount of cases and precedent with such. Its complicated and unless you know what you are doing, fighting such can be a real battle. Knowing what you are doing can be a really battle and sometimes both sides do or do not know what they are doing.

    What the RPF is fighting with the hacking case is a case of technologies IP laws in action. Fun stuff to have to study.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  17. MattMunson

    MattMunson Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I am going to continue, of course :) Though I understand that WB could shut me down at any moment, should they choose to, I'm hoping that there are enough significant differences between my build and MT's situation to warrant some flying under the radar.

    I have NO intention of offering this for sale, nor am I building it in order to profit. I'm just building it for me. I'm only building one. If ANYTHING, I will be using it for charity events and stuff like that.

    As mentioned earlier, there are MANY 89 builders out there who encounter no trouble from WB, and they seldom build in secret. I think it's similar to the relationship with George Lucas, in that as long as it's not meant to be a profit making endeavor, you are left alone. That is pure speculation, by the way, but events and history support this theory.

    The opposite is also true. History has shown time and time again that if you are cranking these things out, and selling them for profit, you tend to get noticed by WB.
     
  18. Judge Spartan

    Judge Spartan Sr Member

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    Great to know Matt and hope to see you get hold of a shell soon.
     
  19. Alan Castillo

    Alan Castillo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yep, I remember having this exact same discussion in one of Matt's threads last year, I don't believe there was a thread on its own.

    As I said then Matt, ignore and proceed. You are correct in what you say :thumbsup
     

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