DC Comics will not have to worry about Batmobile knockoffs in the future as a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Batman's vehicle is entitled to copyright protection.
The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that the Batmobile's appearance and other distinct attributes make it a character that cannot be replicated without permission from DC Comics, who is the copyright holder.
Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Sandra Ikuta mentioned, "As Batman so savagely told Robin, 'In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential.'"
"Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed upon DC's property rights when he produced unauthorised derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture."
Deadline reported that in her ruling, she cited sleekness and power among Batmobile's traits that allow Batman to manoeuvre quickly when he goes after the bad guys.
The ruling came in DC Comics' lawsuit against Mark Towle, a Californian mechanic who sold replicas of Batmobiles from the late 1960s' Batman TV show starring Adam West as Batman and the 1989 movie with Michael Keaton. According to the court, Towle sold the cars for about $90,000 each.
Towle's attorney Larry Zerner argued that though his client copied the car's design, there was never any sort of copyright violation as Towle's Batmobiles often appeared without the iconic "bat-like" features. However, the judiciary panel said that it is just like "James Bond changing from swimming trunks to a tuxedo". It did not alter the car's innate characteristics.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Towle further challenged the comic book house mentioning that it owned neither the TV show nor the 1989 movie. The panel considered it irrelevant as even if the Batmobile replicas were fake DC characters in a way or another, the comic book house is entitled to sue for infringement of its underlying work.
The representatives for DC Comics were J Andrew Coombs and Roger Zissu at Fross Zelnick, while Towle was represented by Larry Zerner and Edwin McPherson at McPherson Rane.