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Submission + - The Copyright Battle Over Custom-Built Batmobiles 3

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Eriq Gardner writes that Warner Brothers is suing California resident Mark Towle, a specialist in customizing replicas of automobiles featured in films and TV shows, for selling replicas of automobiles from the 1960s ABC series Batman by arguing that copyright protection extends to the overall look and feel of the Batmobile. The case hinges on what exactly is a Batmobile — an automobile or a piece of intellectual property? Warner attorney J. Andrew Coombs argues in legal papers that the Batmobile incorporates trademarks with distinctive secondary meaning and that by selling an unauthorized replica, Towle is likely to confuse consumers about whether the cars are DC products are not. Towle's attorney Larry Zerner, argues that automobiles aren't copyrightable. ""It is black letter law that useful articles, such as automobiles, do not qualify as 'sculptural works' and are thus not eligible for copyright protection," writes Zerner adding that a decision to affirm copyright elements of automotive design features could be exploited by automobile manufacturers. "The implications of a ruling upholding this standard are easy to imagine. Ford, Toyota, Ferrari and Honda would start publishing comic books, so that they could protect what, up until now, was unprotectable.""
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The Copyright Battle Over Custom-Built Batmobiles

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  • If I (or, more likely, some car company from China) started selling a car (let's call it a Zharger) whose exterior exactly matched a 2013 Dodge Charger, but had a 1.7L ChiCom motor with a MTBF of 100 hours and a nasty habit of catching fire while going down the road, it seems like Chrysler ought to be able to bring a trademark infringement suit. After all, the company would be copying a very distinct design, potentially confusing consumers, and damaging the brand image of the Charger (after all, going by a

  • Firstly, there are many many batmobiles that have appeared in comcs/cartoons/movies. now, I am a LEGO builder and I have, from time to time reproduced Batmobiles (As I am a Batman fan). A friend of mine recently expressed interest in buying one from me. If the WB suit holds up, that action would also fall afoul would it not?

    This would, if successful, lock down entire creative industries, and that cannot be good for anyone.

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