Copyright suit may bring production of ‘Batmobiles’ screeching to a halt

January 4, 2013

Holy Copyright InfringementFirst, if you run a car shop called Gotham Garage, I am going to think you are a pretty big nerd.

Second (and, let’s be honest, more importantly), if you own such a car shop, lawyers from Warner Bros. Entertainment are going to want to talk to you.

In 2011, Warner Bros. sued Mark Towle, the owner of Gotham Garage in Santa Ana, California, because he was building replicas of the Batmobile used in the 1960s TV show.

(So, this one, not the one from 1989’s “Batman”, 1995’s “Batman Forever” or from 2005’s “Batman Begins.”)

Warner Bros. owns DC Comics, which published Batman comic books, and claims that making replica Batmobiles violates the copyrights it owns on the Batmobile design.

Recently, however, Gotham Garage has asked for summary judgment, arguing that the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show bears little or no similarity to the Batmobile as represented in the comic books.

To me, that argument seems to invite a lawsuit from the producers or network behind the TV show, since it basically admits that Gotham Garage’s car are replicas of those used in the TV show.

So, it’s gutsy, but it might work. As long as Warner Bros. was not involved with the TV show, this argument would get Gotham Garage off the hook (or off this particular hook, at least) if a judge accepts that there is not enough of a connection between the Batmobile in DC Comics and the Gotham Garage “Batmobiles.”

Ultimately, though, I am just a little surprised that someone who makes “Batmobiles” and broadcasts this fact on the Internet has even made it this far.