DC Comics Sues Unauthorized Batmobile Garage

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DC Comics Sues Unauthorized Batmobile Garage

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You won't get a visit from the Dark Knight when you rip off his ride, but you will get a visit from some lawyers.

DC Comics, the Warner Bros. subsidiary that owns everything to do with Batman, has filed a lawsuit against a man named Mark Towles for copyright and trademark infringement. Towles operates the "Gotham Garage" in Orange County, California, which makes and sells Batmobile replicas, but doesn't have DC's seal of approval.

The Gotham Garage offers replicas of the Batmobile from the 60s TV show, the Batmobile from the Tim Burton movies, and the Batmobile from Batman Forever. It also offers a replica of the 60s Batboat. The suit described these replicas as "unlicensed" and "counterfeit," and said that they "willfully" infringed on DC's copyrights and trademarks. While it didn't name a specific amount, the suit said that the revenue generated from products using DC's various Batmobile designs was substantial and that Towles and Gotham Garage had done irreparable harm to DC.

DC's suit - which includes a not insubstantial list of the trademarks and copyrights that Towles has allegedly violated - calls for a permanent injunction, preventing Towles from making any more replicas, the destruction of any infringing parts, products, or finished vehicles, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in damages.

Having looked at the Gotham Garage site, it looks like Towles might be in some trouble. There's no denying that he does make Batmobile kits and replicas and that, unlike rival Fibreglass Freaks, he doesn't have a license to do so. There are some murmurings on the Gotham Garage forums that DC can't sue over the design of the 60's Batmobile, as it is essentially just a modified Lincoln Futura, a car that DC didn't design. Even if that is the case however, it can still legitimately sue over the Burton Batmobile, and the Batman Forever Batmobile, not to mention all the uses of the Batman logo.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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And he didn't think that DC might take exception to him making a fortune off their designs and logo's why, exactly? Seriously, how out of it do you have to be to think that you can get away with this, a full-size counterfeit bat-car selling business with website and all isn't exactly subtle.

True that he shouldn't be making replica's based off of something that already has licensing and rights to, but what could instead, and stay with me now, instead of suing why not make this guy a part of the DC comic universe open a variety of shops like this across the U.S. and take a cut of his profit so it could be a win win on both sides of the case. Though i might be dreaming about a perfect world this should still be possible.

One of the ads on the site uses an image of Marcus Fenix from Gears lol.

These guys have no shame in theft =p

The tittle was a little misgiving, I though someone who did it as a personal project being sued not someone who was selling with the name. I think if the lawsuit relies in the using of the logo, DC will win, but won't get much really done since the guy will simply take it off and keep selling, while if they go against the car design things will get harder, of course only relying on the last paragraph for this opinion.

Hmm, well considering the Fiberglass people aren't making anything other than the 66' batmobile he's technically filling a void DC hadn't already. I assume they already approached him about getting an official license and he said no? The one from fiberglass look nice, but I think I want the burton batmobile; I say DC just settle with the guy for a licensing agreement so when I win the lottery I can pimp it down the highway in the burton batmobile.

DrNobody18:
And he didn't think that DC might take exception to him making a fortune off their designs and logo's why, exactly? Seriously, how out of it do you have to be to think that you can get away with this, a full-size counterfeit bat-car selling business with website and all isn't exactly subtle.

...lol, fitting avatar for your answer ;)
Facepalm worthy indeed.

OT: Pretty much what DrNobody said, if you're going to make stuff like this, get liscence to do it.

GeeksUtopia:
True that he shouldn't be making replica's based off of something that already has licensing and rights to, but what could instead, and stay with me now, instead of suing why not make this guy a part of the DC comic universe open a variety of shops like this across the U.S. and take a cut of his profit so it could be a win win on both sides of the case. Though i might be dreaming about a perfect world this should still be possible.

Because the message then is "Steal our stuff and we put you on the payroll" not "Steal our stuff and we put you on the streets".

I'm willing to bet he could've gotten their stamp of approval if he'd looked for it, he chose not to do it.

And he thought he'd get away with this.. because?

I'm probably missing something here

Logan Westbrook:
You won't get a visit from the Dark Knight when you rip off his ride, but you will get a visit from some lawyers.

You think that's bad? You don't wanna know what happens when you sing
the jingle


I predict this guy will be spending many a Dark Knight in prison.

What an awful website this guy has got. I wouldn't be surprised if DC had went after him just for bringing their trademarks into disrepute, let alone profitting from it.

Yeah they have a right to sue the guy but for fuck's sake, WB and DC blow their noses on 20's, use 50's as notepaper and shit 100's.

DC doesnt even own the rights to the 66 Batmobile.... Rock on to these guys who make affordable car mods and kits. Hell, the only reason these things are popular today are that people like these strive to make great affordable mods.

DrNobody18:
And he didn't think that DC might take exception to him making a fortune off their designs and logo's why, exactly? Seriously, how out of it do you have to be to think that you can get away with this, a full-size counterfeit bat-car selling business with website and all isn't exactly subtle.

Well, we're making a big assumption that he didn't ask to be honest. In a lot of cases where something this flagrent is going on, you have someone who DOES ask to do something like this, gets permission verbally, goes ahead and does it, but then becomes profitable enough to sue and winds up in a position without any paperwork or witnesses to a "verbal contract".

This is a big deal in Hollywood in paticular where there is a long history of business being done literally on a handshake. Contract law can be a mess, and I tend to think back to one case a while back where Kim Basinger wound up in court over her alleged agreement to appear in the movie "Boxing Helena", which she denied. She wound up losing the case and suffering millions in losses (well potentially) but then overturned it in an appeal. It's not all that famous a case right now, but it gets down to how messed up contract law is, and how dubious things like this can be.

Speaking entirely for myself, unless I missed something in the article where the guy said he didn't have permission, I'd tend to believe this is going to get complicated. Especially seeing as if the guy has a brain, even if it's a lie, he can probably give DC enough of a headache to give up on financial compensation (and just get him to agree to stop) by claiming he had a verbal contract gained by asking if it was okay to do.

See, verbal contract is a mess with a good lawyer, because while it can be argued that someone who says someone said something was okay didn't have the authority to make a deal like that, a lot also depends on whether the other party knew they didn't have that authority. I probably wouldn't win if I was trying to get something out of someone, but with a decent lawyer if I had three buddies agree to lie on my behalf about someone I "really believed was in a position of authority to make this desician" telling me something was okay, I could probably get a lawsuit to back off since when a jury is involved in a civil case it comes down to a preponderance of evidence, and clear and convincing testimony, the same standards to presenting evidence don't exist that are in a criminal trial.

Simply put, I doubt this guy is going to really have more happen to him than having to close down his business. If he has an intimidating enough lawyer, I doubt he'll even have to hand over the money he made so far... unless of course he already SAID he knew he didn't have permission... assuming of course that he DIDN'T ask DC to begin with, and that's always possible because he's operating so publically. It's not some kind of shady, backroom business run by a guy who was apparently afraid of prosecution. He also apparently operated long enough where it also raises some questions.

Eh, I'd be pissed off, but then I noticed there is someone with a license to do this.

What gets on my nerves is companies that sue about stuff like this but have no intention to create anything officially licensed.

(Or where the 'cheap knockoff' is obviously of much better quality than the official merchandise...)

Does DC have a batmobile dealership? How is this guy infringing on the rights of DC? He sells replicas. I don't see how they could sustain financial damage from a guy making cars in his garage. Also destruction of infringing vehicles would mean the willful destruction of other peoples property right? I don't think that would go over very well. just saying.

He didn't have permission but questions here are a) did he know he needed DC permission? and b)did he willfully copy something trademarked by DC?

A, if didn't they should have let him know before jumping straight to lawsuit. C&D order with a letter letting him know he needs a DC seal of approval for such things would have been much more cost effective and efficient.

B, Now this is where this case could get murky. Did he willfully copy trademarked by DC? In a sense yes he did he made batmobiles With batman symbols. The symbols are a trademark infringement i'll give DC that. But the Batmobiles themselves are not unless he copied plans or some sort of trademarked blueprints. He's basically a cover band. If he figured out how to make the music himself DC has no grounds to sue. IF he said DC made them when they didn't or somehow got hold of DC trademark blueprints and used those then he's got a problem.

I do see this lawsuit as somewhat frivolous, especially when there were better easier less bad PR inducing ways of dealing with it. However we may not be seeing the whole picture.

Bretty:
DC doesnt even own the rights to the 66 Batmobile.... Rock on to these guys who make affordable car mods and kits. Hell, the only reason these things are popular today are that people like these strive to make great affordable mods.

This right here.

I hope that this guy fights them in court and wins. There's fair use, there's an alternative market (DC isn't MAKING car mods), and they sure as hell aren't working with fiberglass.

Way to sue your customers DC!

On the one hand, this guy was asking for trouble. On the other, his doing "irreparable harm" to DC is a bullshit pile of astronomical proportions. Unfortunately you can sue a person for making a car in a certain shape and name, but you can't sue a person for being hazardously full of shit.

Logan Westbrook:
While it didn't name a specific amount, the suit said that the revenue generated from products using DC's various Batmobile designs was substantial and that Towles and Gotham Garage had done irreparable harm to DC.

"Irreparable harm?" I thought that's what the movie Batman and Robin did.


The lawsuit's justified, but I think DC's making too much of a fuss over this. Last I checked they weren't selling any Batmobile replicas.

The 'irreparable damage' claim is laughable, but otherwise, the guy made the stupid decision to use the Batman logo. Ditch the logo, make some small changes and you're set. Like the Transphormers franchise; nobody can sue them.

This is f**king stupid. Instead of suing the guy, why don't they offer him a partnership? This guy is probably generating more good for their brand then harm, and now they just look like dicks.

F**k you, DC comics.

Funkysandwich:
This is f**king stupid. Instead of suing the guy, why don't they offer him a partnership? This guy is probably generating more good for their brand then harm, and now they just look like dicks.

F**k you, DC comics.

No. F**k you Warner Bros. They the one who is issuing the order.

Also, they own DC.

I dont understand what the problem is. Does DC have their own branch where you can buy Batmobile replica's from that this guy is stealing the business of?

Gotham Garage had done irreparable harm to DC.

Yes, i'm sure.

drama queen

DrNobody18:
And he didn't think that DC might take exception to him making a fortune off their designs and logo's why, exactly? Seriously, how out of it do you have to be to think that you can get away with this, a full-size counterfeit bat-car selling business with website and all isn't exactly subtle.

Your avatar fits this story nicely

manythings:

GeeksUtopia:
True that he shouldn't be making replica's based off of something that already has licensing and rights to, but what could instead, and stay with me now, instead of suing why not make this guy a part of the DC comic universe open a variety of shops like this across the U.S. and take a cut of his profit so it could be a win win on both sides of the case. Though i might be dreaming about a perfect world this should still be possible.

Because the message then is "Steal our stuff and we put you on the payroll" not "Steal our stuff and we put you on the streets".

I'm willing to bet he could've gotten their stamp of approval if he'd looked for it, he chose not to do it.

It's a little more involved than that. The problem is that there is a licensed business already serving this market. Licenses don't come cheap. This other business has shelled out a ton of cash to acquire it. I am sure that part of their contract dealings with DC is that they will aggressively protect said license, otherwise it is valueless to the legitimate license holder. DC isn't necesarliy sending out C&D orders because they want to be dicks about it, or because they don't want people driving batmobiles. They are doing it because they are legally obligated to do so. It is just par for the course when protecting and licensing IP.

As far as what DC can and cannot sue over, regarding the 1960's TV Batmobile, While any arguements that no IP exists because it used a Lincoln Futura as the base are complete and utter hogwash. (You can make a Futura, as soon as you add the batmobile modifications it is the protected property.) I am not 100% sure that DC actually owns those rights? Didn't Barris retain at least part of those back when he designed the thing for them? Isn't that why there really wasn't as much merchandise for that specific car as you might otherwise expect.

rayen020:
Does DC have a batmobile dealership? How is this guy infringing on the rights of DC? He sells replicas. I don't see how they could sustain financial damage from a guy making cars in his garage. Also destruction of infringing vehicles would mean the willful destruction of other peoples property right? I don't think that would go over very well. just saying.

He didn't have permission but questions here are a) did he know he needed DC permission? and b)did he willfully copy something trademarked by DC?

A, if didn't they should have let him know before jumping straight to lawsuit. C&D order with a letter letting him know he needs a DC seal of approval for such things would have been much more cost effective and efficient.

B, Now this is where this case could get murky. Did he willfully copy trademarked by DC? In a sense yes he did he made batmobiles With batman symbols. The symbols are a trademark infringement i'll give DC that. But the Batmobiles themselves are not unless he copied plans or some sort of trademarked blueprints. He's basically a cover band. If he figured out how to make the music himself DC has no grounds to sue. IF he said DC made them when they didn't or somehow got hold of DC trademark blueprints and used those then he's got a problem.

I do see this lawsuit as somewhat frivolous, especially when there were better easier less bad PR inducing ways of dealing with it. However we may not be seeing the whole picture.

I'd be surprised if they didn't send him a C&D demand. That's pretty standard in the industry.

You can trademark a distinctive shape of an object like that of the Batmobile. For example, Coca-Cola's distinctive hourglass shaped bottle is trademarked. Use a bottle for your beverage that looks like Coca-Cola's bottle and I'll bet they'll sue you quick as shit. And probably win.

He's doing something he has a real passion for who cares, bloody rich bastards.

Anybody who thinks that Warner Bros isn't entirely justified needs to have a good, long thought to themselves about why it is that corporations are reprehensible for protecting what's rightfully theirs.

No you're a towle.

No, sir, you really are a towle.

:D

That is all I can say about this.

Jack Macaque:
He's doing something he has a real passion for who cares, bloody rich bastards.

Their wealth is irrelevant. What matters is that he is breaking the law.
OT: Really, dude? Are you at all shocked?

Well if they close the Gotahm Garage i hope they start makign their own batmobiles X_X
Hell id like one!

manythings:

GeeksUtopia:
True that he shouldn't be making replica's based off of something that already has licensing and rights to, but what could instead, and stay with me now, instead of suing why not make this guy a part of the DC comic universe open a variety of shops like this across the U.S. and take a cut of his profit so it could be a win win on both sides of the case. Though i might be dreaming about a perfect world this should still be possible.

Because the message then is "Steal our stuff and we put you on the payroll" not "Steal our stuff and we put you on the streets".

I'm willing to bet he could've gotten their stamp of approval if he'd looked for it, he chose not to do it.

Isn't this a good thing? I don't see how a message that causes more talent to crop up which they can recruit and profit off is a bad thing. If untalented/dishonest/evil/whathaveyou people begin to take advantage of it then they can go back to business as usual; suing.

"Band with the Bros of Gotham Garage in this Open and Fair Forum dedicated to spreading the truth and dispelling misinformation in the extremely competitive yet creative world of Batmobile Replicas, Kit Car and Star Car Building. ENLIST NOW and battle the CONSPIRACY of LIES!"

Hahahahahahahaha! They drew on a beard and mustache onto Marcus Fenix! Hahahahaha!

image
Edit: I posted this before actually entering the forums. "Mwahahaha! Tell the truth, bitch!"

Yeah this crap needs to be shut down. Haha.

DC/WB is in the right for protecting their IP here.

That being said, I wonder how easy/difficult it is to get a license from them to do this legally. That's an entirely separate question from the legality, but I wonder if big companies like this that sit on IP should be making it easier for passionate enthusiasts to pay homage to their favourite shows and movies.

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