If there’s ever a case for a star gaining more popularity than the movies itself, you’d struggle to find a better example than 2000’s Gone In 60 Seconds. No, we’re not talking about Nic Cage, whose performance as Memphis Raines is probably best forgotten. Instead, we’re referring to “Eleanor,” aka, a distinctive grey and black 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.
But until now, if you’d ever tried to create a replica of that 67 Mustang, there’s a chance your project would have been shut down or your car seized. It was all to do with copyright and who owned the right to “Eleanor,” with Shelby themselves being sued for infringement.
It’s all to do with the original 70s film, Gone In Sixty Seconds, which featured a yellow Mustang nicknamed Eleanor. The movie was directed by H.B. Halicki, who died during the filming of a sequel in 1989. Halicki’s widow, Denice Shakarian Halicki, continued to argue that her company, Eleanor Licensing LLC, owned the rights to the vehicle.
Halicki believed that the Shelby Mustang GT500, which appeared in the reboot, was the equivalent of a character with defined traits that were reflected across multiple movies.
Halicki’s claims meant that the Shelby Trust was unable to license other people or allow companies to manufacture and sell Shelby GT500 models — despite the company having created the car used in the reboot. It also led to replica cars being seized, such as YouTube channel B Is For Build’s Mustang.
Read: YouTuber Tried To Build Eleanor-Inspired Mustang, Reportedly Lost The Car In Legal Battle
However, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California court recently ruled that Halicki’s character copyright claims were “an invention of overzealous advocacy,” which included factual inaccuracies. The court documents even state that the widow and her counsel misled prior courts through embellished facts.
The ruling opens up the Shelby Trust’s ability to license GT500 builds that replicate the car that appeared in the movie. “We can finally tell all our important licensees and Shelby GT 500 owners that Mrs. Halicki has absolutely no right to complain about or file a lawsuit based upon the looks of any car licensed by the Shelby Trust,” said Neil Cummings, Co-Trustee of the Shelby Trust.
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