Law360 | ’60 Seconds’ Car Copyright Saga Rolls Into LA

A federal judge in Los Angeles will conduct a hearing to determine if the Ford Mustang, which appeared in the remake film “Gone in 60 Seconds” starring Nicolas Cage, qualifies as a character protected by copyright, much like the Batmobile.

The remake keept the iconic car “Eleanor,” but switched to one of Shelby’s Mustangs. Legal battles erupted between Halicki’s widow and Shelby’s company over the rights to sell similar cars. They settled after a Ninth Circuit case in 2008.

In 2015, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Batmobile was a copyright-protected character owned by Warner Bros. due to its consistent traits. Shelby’s company asserts that there’s nothing unique about the “Eleanor” cars in the different movies that sets them apart from other movie cars.

In 2020, Shelby Licensing sued, alleging Halicki’s widow sent cease-and-desist letters to Shelby’s customers, violating their agreement. In retaliation, she countersued, claiming Shelby infringed on her copyright, likening the car to a character, much like the Batmobile. Lawyers for Shelby argue the car is merely a prop and not a central character.

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