Lucius Fox may have some serious competition from English designer Mark Hostler, who created a concept car to celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of Lamborghini that bears a striking similarity to an automobile seen prowling the streets of Gotham. Or, in the words of Jamal Igle, “It’s the f*cking BATMOBILE!!!!!”
The Lamborghini Ferruccio is equipped with a 5.0-liter V12 engine featuring twin-turbochargers and a direct-injection system, although presumably it doesn’t include a mobile Batcomputer or Bat-tering Ram. Still, it’s likely only someone with Bruce Wayne’s wealth could afford it.
A federal judge on Thursday dealt a crippling blow to a custom carmarker, siding with DC Comics in a ruling that declared the Batmobile isn’t merely an automobile but “a copyrightable character.”
The publisher sued Gotham Garage owner Ben Towle in May 2011, accusing his California-based business of violating its trademarks and copyrights by manufacturing and selling unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobile. DC sought a permanent injunction, the destruction of all infringing products and damages of no less than $750,000 for each infringement.
However, Towle countered that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” — for example, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions. He failed to persuade U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew with that argument last year in a motion to dismiss, and he was no more successful this time.
Less than two weeks after the iconic vehicle from the 1966 Batman television series sold at auction for $4.62 million, a custom carmaker was arguing that a federal judge should dismiss DC Comics’ claims that his Batmobile replicas infringe on the company’s trademarks.
The publisher sued Gotham Garage owner Ben Towle in May 2011, accusing his California-based business of manufacturing and selling unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobile (the company also offers a recreation of the TV show’s Batboat). DC seeks a permanent injunction, the destruction of all infringing products and damages of no less than $750,000 for each infringement.
While Towle failed to persuade a judge in February 2012 that the complaint should be thrown out on the grounds that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles,” Law360 reports on Wednesday his attorney took a different approach, arguing that DC waited too long to assert its rights.
Ever since Rick Champagne was a kid playing with his toy replica of the Batmobile, he’s wanted to own the iconic car from the 1960s Batman television series. On Saturday, that dream at last became a reality.
The Arizona businessman, and lifelong Batman fan, shelled out $4.62 million for the customized 1955 Lincoln Futura, the second-highest amount ever paid for a vehicle at the famed Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions (a 1966 Cobra Super Snake owned by auto designer and racing driver Carroll Shelby sold for a record $5.5 million in 2007).
“I’m going to keep it at home,” Champagne told SPEED TV. “Maybe take it out for a Sunday drive.” Asked whether he’d store the Batmobile in his garage, he said he’ll probably put it in his living room.
Legal | Both Warner Bros. and automobile customizer Mark Towle have filed for summary judgment in the studio’s 2011 copyright-infringement lawsuit against Towle, whose Gotham Garage sold several replicas of the Batmobile. Warner, the parent company of DC Comics, claims the design of the Batmobile is its intellectual property, while Towle argues that copyright law does not regard a “useful object,” such as a car, as a sculptural work and therefore the design can’t be copyrighted. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Crime | Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, are investigating the theft of 600 X-Men comics, dating back to the 1970s, from the communal storage area of an apartment building. [Journal Star]
If you’re attending WonderCon this weekend, stop by the Graphitti Designs booth (#601) to get your hands on three new prints being offered by DC Direct. The prints feature the Batmobile, Batman and the City of Kandor. They cost $49.95 each and are limited to 100 of each design. According to The Source, Dc plans to offer additional prints throughout 2012.
Check out Batman and Kandor after the jump.
Sales | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to comic books stores through Diamond Comic Distributors increased 27.5 percent in January compared to the same month in 2011. Comics were up 32 percent while graphic novels were up 18 percent compared to 2011. DC Comics dominated all 10 spots at the top of the chart, with Justice League #5 coming in at No. 1. Batman: Through the Looking Glass was the top graphic novel for the month. [ICv2]
Passings | British comics artist Mike White, who illustrated Alan Moore’s The Twisted Man and numerous other stories for 2000AD, Lion, Valiant, Action and Score ‘n’ Roar, has passed away after a long illness. [Blimey!]
Publishing | Because the world demanded it, apparently, Random House plans to publish e-books of all the collected editions of Garfield newspaper comics. [Down the Tubes]
Legal | A judge refused to dismiss DC Comics’ lawsuit against Gotham Garage, a manufacturer of custom-made Batmobiles, ruling that the design of Batman’s vehicle is indeed copyrightable. DC sued the California company in May for copyright and trademark infringement, claiming Gotham Garage is confusing the public into thinking the cars are authorized products. The manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles.” The judge disagreed, ruling that Gotham Garage “ignores the exception to the ‘useful article’ rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Nancy Hass provides a broad overview of the legal battle at Archie Comics that pits Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit against each other for control of the 73-year-old company. Silberkleit, who spoke briefly to Hass before a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order last month, called claims that she’s threatened and harassed the publisher’s employees and vendors “completely untrue.” [The Daily Beast]
Legal | Marc Toberoff, the lawyer suing Marvel on behalf of Jack Kirby’s heirs, plans to appeal Thursday’s ruling by New York federal judge Colleen McMahon that the Kirby estate had no claim to copyrights on the superheroes Kirby co-created for Marvel Comics. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and intend to appeal this matter to the Second Circuit,” Toberoff told The Hollywood Reporter. “Sometimes you have to lose in order to win.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison chat about Supergods, The Sandman, Superman and more. “…when I did comics, it was also a performance,” Morrison said. “It’s like playing live. You don’t get much time to edit; we don’t really do second drafts in our business. I love that aspect of comics, where you could have a Sandman out and people would be talking about it immediately, and we could be responding to things that were happening all around us and it could be published three months later, or two months later, depending on how late we were. It’s not like writing a book, which is over a span of years like building a cathedral. The comic is so instant. That’s why it covers the seismic shifts of culture very, very accurately.” [Shelf Life]
DC Comics has sued a California manufacturer of replica vehicles, accusing him of infringing on the company’s copyrights and trademarks by selling custom-made Batmobiles.
Hollywood, Esq., reports that DC filed the lawsuit last week in federal court against Mark Towles, whose business Gotham Garage specializes in the creation and sale of television and movie replica vehicles, from the 1989 movie Batmobile to the 1966 TV Batmobile and Batboat to Speed Racer’s Mach 5. Presumably none of those replicas is licensed, as the indicia on Towles’ website states that “Neither Gotham Garage nor Mark Towle are directly affiliated with Warner Brothers Inc., DC Comics., 20th Century Fox Inc., Walt Disney Inc., nor The Munsters Official Organizations.”
The publisher accuses Towles of copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition, and seeks a permanent injunction, the destruction of all infringing products and damages of no less than $750,000 for each infringement.
A must-see for Batman fans, or, heck, infographic devotees, this nearly 166-inch-long timeline at CarInsurance.org — created using information and images culled from BatmobileHistory.com — charts the 70-year evolution of the Batmobile, from its first appearance in Detective Comics #48 to the Tim Burton movies to its current comic-book incarnations. Perhaps just as interesting is the inclusion, when applicable, of the actual cars on which the various Batmobiles were based. Ah, the Corvette years …
(via Screen Rant)
Morrison, Finch, Cornell, Paquette, Snyder, Daniel, Tomasi, Gleason, Scott…Larroca?: A Batman news round-up
Not since Bane broke all the lunatics out of Arkham Asylum has Batman had this eventful a week. Perhaps to avoid the avalanche of news coming out of San Diego next week, DC has spent the past few days announcing a slew of new Batman projects and creative teams. And heck, even Marvel got in on the act, sorta…