Cases

Eleanor Licensing LLC v. Classic Recreations LLC (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 599

The clients had licensed their rights to produce replicas of Eleanor, the car that played a starring role in Gone in 60 Seconds, to the defendants.  In return for the license, the defendants gave the clients, among other things, the first licensed replica they built.  But the defendants then terminated the agreement—having delivered the car, but never the title—to the clients.  Five years later, the defendants falsely informed the Los Angeles Police Department that the clients had stolen the car, and had it seized from its display at a high-end dealership that had since become the clients’ licensee.  The clients sued the defendants, prevailing on both contract and tort theories (i.e., conversion).  On appeal, the defendants argued that the clients never had the Eleanor rights to license in the first place, suggesting that the clients therefore never provided sufficient consideration for the first licensed replica.  The Court of Appeal rejected this argument entirely, holding that substantial evidence supported the clients’ ownership of the “Eleanor” trademark, and that the clients’ other intellectual property rights in the star car character were completely undisputed.  Having provided sufficient consideration for the car, the clients were entitled to continue to possess it—and to take the title that the defendants had wrongfully withheld.

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