- Published: 30 September 2015 30 September 2015
By Stephen L. Grant, Sr. Atty, Standley Law Group LLP
"In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential." This is how a panel of the Ninth Circuit started its conclusion in DC Comics v. Mark Towle (Case 13-55484, September 23, 2015), quoting a statement by Batman to his trusty sidekick Robin in an episode of the Batman television show. We certainly strive to keep our society "well-ordered." As a result, Mark Towle’s replica Batmobiles, sold at about $90,000 each, are infringements of DC Comics’ copyright in the Batman comic books.
Does it make sense to consider the Batmobile a "character"? I think that the Court’s decision in affirming a summary judgement at the district court is well-reasoned and correct. In deciding the case, however, the Court reveals once again that copyright law, while appearing quite rudimentary and logical, can occasionally exhibit some unexpected depth.