Holy Registration, Batman: The Batmobile is Copyrighted!

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It is now settled: the Batmobile is subject to copyright protection.  In a recent appellate court decision, the Batmobile was determined to have sufficient distinguishing features to entitle it to copyright protection. 

The appeal was the result of a case brought by DC Comics against the owner of a garage in Los Angeles specializing in selling Batmobile replicas.  DC Comics alleged that the garage committed copyright infringement when it sold cars that looked like the car in the 1966 television show and in the 1989 movie. 

The court agreed.  To find whether a character in a comic book, TV or movie is entitled to copyright protection, it must be shown that: (1) that the character has “physical as well as conceptual qualities”; (2) the character must be recognizable to people over time; and (3) the character is “especially distinctive”.   The Batmobile passed the court’s test and DC Comics succeeded in stopping the sale of Batmobile replicas.

What’s the take away here?  Think outside the box about how to best protect your intellectual property.  While the Batmobile may not be considered under conventional standards as a “character”, the court found it was, and its shape and likeness are now subject to protection under copyright law.

Protecting your innovative developments is critical to any organization.  Having the right person to help you make that decision is important.  The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours keep ahead of the game.   The first telephone consultation is free.  Email us at klynch@kliplaw.com.