Halicki Films, LLC v. Sanderson Sales and Marketing (9th Cir. 2008) 547 F.3d 1213

GMSR’s clients owned the copyrights to and trademarks associated with the classic 1974 film, “Gone in 60 Seconds” and its iconic car character, “Eleanor.” In 2000, Disney (through an agreement with GMSR’s clients) released a blockbuster remake of the film under the same name, reprising the character “Eleanor.” Defendants, including custom car/racing legend Carroll Shelby, manufactured, marketed and sold high-priced replicas of the Remake “Eleanor,” prompting GMSR’s clients to sue for various copyright and trademark claims. The District Court dismissed the case on summary judgment, ruling that GMSR’s clients lacked standing and had assigned any of their rights to the Remake “Eleanor” to Disney.

The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that GMSR’s clients did have standing to pursue their copyright and trademark claims and that they had not assigned their Remake “Eleanor” rights to Disney. The Court also provided guidance to the District Court on remand as to the copyrightability of the “Eleanor” car character and the ownership of the “Eleanor” and “Gone in 60 Seconds” trademarks.