As you may know, if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, for the past four years I’ve been defending Mark Towle of Gotham Garage in a lawsuit brought by DC Comics. Mark is one of the leading purveyors of replica automobiles in the country, and he was sued by DC for copyright infringement for making life-size, working replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles.
What Mark does is absolutely allowed under U.S. Copyright Law because Congress specifically stated that the design of an automobile (any automobile, even the Batmobile) is not protected by copyright because it is a “useful article” and “useful articles” cannot be copyrighted.
Unfortunately, when we took this argument to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 9th Circuit created a huge exception to this rule, stating that if the car could be considered a “character” then it was protected by copyright, despite the fact that Mark did not copy any of the Batmobiles from the comic books.
So, to right this wrong, myself, along with Ed McPherson and Tracy Rane of McPherson Rane filed a petition for cert yesterday, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to correct this injustice and overreach of copyright law. I will let you know when we get word of their answer. Here’s a link to the Petition for Cert. And here’s a link to the documents in the Appendix (for those really interested). Finally, the Hollywood Reporter did a write up on the petition and you can read that here.