The battle of the Batmobile

Posted by David Konow

The Batmobile from the Batman TV show may not be as hi-tech or as cool as Christian Bale’s bat hummer, or even Michael Keaton’s ride from the Tim Burton films, but I still think it looks pretty cool.

The newer models may go faster, and have more hi-tech gadgets in them, but the frame of the 60’s Batmobile with the red detailing is still a really cool design, and it was made by custom cars legend George Barris.

 
If you don’t know Barris by name, youcertainly know his handiwork. He built James Dean’s ill-fated Porsche Spyder, the dragster on The Munsters, and KITT from Knight Rider. And you may also recall that on TG we ran a story about the Barris designed Batmobile going up for auction this month, and it’s expected to make millions. Yet as The Hollywood Reporter tells us, Warner Brothers is also trying to stop custom auto builders from making custom Batmobile replicas.
 
Over the years, Warner Brothers and DC Comics have been very protective of their franchise, and the studio wants to stop a custom car company called Gotham Garage from selling Batmobiles. The owner of Gotham Garage, Mark Towle has sold two unauthorized Batmobiles, one for $90,000, and another for $80,000. 
 
Warner Brothers has sued Towle for copyright infringement, and Towle is standing his ground against them. His lawyer has claimed that an automobile can’t be copyrighted, and in legal papers he stated, “It is black letter law that useful article, such as automobiles, do not qualify as ‘sculptural words’ and are thus not eligible for copyright protection. DC [Comics] believes that there is an exception to this rule.” 
 
In legal papers, Towle also stated, “This is a very important case that has far-reaching implications…the issue that will be decided will have a significant impact on automobile makers and manufacturers.” 
 
Again, Batman is a huge franchise that both Warners and DC is protective of, no matter how many billions of dollars it has raked in already. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out, because even though the Batmobile will probably never be mass marketed like say, a Mercedes Coupe or a Volkswagen Jetta, if somebody wants to have their own custom built Batmobile, will they still be able to legally?