Gotham Garage, maker of a high-quality Batmobile replica, got slapped with a lawsuit from DC Comics in 2011 for copyright violations in making the car. The suit has wrapped and the judge has sided against the shop, though other Batmobile replicas are legally available.
Batmobile replica production shuttered by suit
Replica cars involve some legal wrangling as car designs, classic cars or movie cars, are protected by some sort of copyright. Granted, any Tom, Dick or Harry can build their very own replica of whatever in their garage. However, they can’t necessary sell it commercially.
According to AutoBlog, Gotham Garage, a custom car and motorcycle shop that also makes high quality replica cars, was recently ruled against in a lawsuit that’s taken some time to resolve. The company makes, among other things, Batmobile replicas. They make both a 1966 Batmobile replica and a 1989 Batmobile replica and according to an older version of the company’s website, they were working on a replica of the “Batman Forever” Batmobile.
However, the presiding judge ruled that Gotham and shop owner Mark Towle were indeed violating copyrights held by DC Comics.
Car has character
In the suit, the judge ruled that the Batmobile, in and of itself, is effectively a character, either in it’s 1966 or 1989 forms. As result, it’s the intellectual property and copyright of DC Comics and an unauthorized Batmobile replica infringes on that. Unique design elements are likewise protected, so things like signs warning of a “Bat Ray” and the Batman logo are also off-limits.
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To Towle’s credit, he had waited until the original design patents on the cars had expired, meaning he had cause to think a Batmobile replica was fair game. The ruling, in and of itself, doesn’t specify damages, as it’s actually a motion for partial summary judgment, where a trial is by-passed and a judge issues a ruling in cases where the facts aren’t in dispute and it basically looks like one party will win.
Kind of a shame
It’s actually kind of a shame. The Gotham Garage Batmobile replica, either the 1966 Bat or 1989 Bat, as they were called, were high-quality, available as kit cars. The company also made a Mach 5 replica, a copy of the car from “Speed Racer.” The Mach 5 and 1966 Batmobile replica were both made using a C4 Corvette chassis and the 1989 Batmobile replica used a tube chassis with the running gear from a C4 Corvette.
The company also made a copy of “Herbie,” the Volkswagen Beetle from the “Love Bug” movies, though that’s basically an old VW Bug with a Martini race livery color scheme and Gulf Oil colors are just cooler.
However, that doesn’t mean there are no options for a Batmobile replica. DC Comics, according to Gizmodo, gave the OK for a licensed Batmobile replica of the original car, the one driven by Adam West in the television series, from a company called Fiberglass Freaks. It’s a fantastically high-quality replica and fastidiously faithful to the original in almost every detail. There is, however, a total act of heresy, as the car uses a GM V-8. The original was a Lincoln Futura, a concept car, and darn it, should be using a Ford.
Granted, getting out an auto loans rate calculator will hurt. It will set you back $150,000. Fiberglass Freaks also makes a Lincoln Futura replica, but it’s $50,000 more.
Ruling on Gotham Garage on TheHollywoodReporter (PDF – Requires Adobe Reader): http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Documents/ESQ/batmobile.pdf
Fiberglass Freaks: http://www.buybatparts.com/joomla/index.php/home