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DC Comics v. Towle
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
802 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015)
Publisher DC Comics (plaintiff) owns the copyrights to the original Batman comic books that were licensed to make the 1966 television show Batman and the 1989 movie BATMAN. Mark Towle (defendant) made replicas of both the television and movie versions of the Batmobile to sell to collectors and kits for customers to modify their cars to look like it. DC sued Towle on multiple grounds, including copyright infringement, claiming that the Batmobile is a copyrightable character even though its appearance has changed over the years. Specifically, the Batmobile has always retained its name and certain key characteristics as Batman’s personal crime-fighting vehicle, including a bat-like appearance, futuristic technology, and advanced weaponry. The trial court entered stipulated judgment finding that Towle infringed the Batmobile copyright. Towle appealed, arguing that the Batmobile is not copyrightable.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ikuta, J.)
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