Law360 | ’60 Seconds’ Producer Says Shelby’s Co.’s Suit Crashed Deal

In a legal dispute linked to the film “Gone in 60 Seconds,” an attorney representing the movie’s producer presented their argument centered on Carroll Shelby’s company allegedly violating a settlement concerning the rights to the movie’s iconic “Eleanor” car by taking legal action against actions they were authorized to perform.

The core issue revolves around a disagreement over reproducing Eleanor Mustangs. Denice Halicki, widow of the original film’s director and a producer of the remake, defended her stance, asserting that her cease-and-desist letters to those reproducing Eleanors were well within her rights.

David L. Brandon, from Clark Hill PLC, emphasized that the Shelby parties had initiated legal action despite the settlement explicitly prohibiting them from suing Halicki for various actions related to Eleanors from the remake. This legal clash originates from a 2009 settlement following a previous lawsuit between Halicki and Shelby’s company and trust. Classic Recreations LLC, known for crafting custom Mustangs for Shelby, is also entangled in the lawsuit.

The initial dispute traces its roots to the 1974 film “Gone in 60 Seconds,” featuring a Ford Mustang named “Eleanor.” The 2000 remake continued to use the name Eleanor, leading to disputes over the car’s true identity. Shelby’s trust attempted to trademark “Eleanor” for both model and real cars, triggering legal proceedings initiated by Halicki.

Both parties sought summary judgment, with Judge Scarsi dismissing Halicki’s copyright claims. During the recent hearing, Halicki’s attorney, Jason J. Keener of Irwin IP LLC, presented evidence supporting the assertion that the GT500CR mimicked Eleanor, while the representation of Classic Recreations argued that Halicki’s claims were time-barred.

A ruling on the contract’s interpretation could significantly influence future car sales. Halicki is pursuing potential damages of up to $16.8 million and injunctive relief, while the Shelby parties are seeking over $429,000 in damages and an interpretation of the 2009 agreement that would allow them to continue selling their cars. Judge Scarsi has not yet issued a ruling.

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