Los Angeles, California – A California appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit against Carroll Shelby for copyright infringement on the “Eleanor” Mustang can go ahead. The court reversed a District Court’s dismissal of an earlier lawsuit, where Denice Halicki attempted to pursue her copyright and trademark claims against Shelby and his fellow defendants.
The lawsuit claimed that the film Gone In 60 Seconds and the famous “Eleanor” star car were the brainchild of H.B. “Toby” Halicki, Denise Halicki’s late husband, where Eleanor was introduced in the original 1974 Gone In 60 Seconds.
The Ninth Circuit court has ruled that Halicki does have standing to pursue her copyright and trademark claims, and proviced guidance to the District Court on remand as to the copyrightability of the car character, and ownership of the “Eleanor” and “Gone In 60 Seconds” trademarks.
As alleged in the complaint, the defendants, led by Carroll Shelby, “entered into a scheme and conspiracy to manufacture, market and sell ‘knock-offs’ of ‘Eleanor’, the leading lady star car character”, without Halicki’s authority, consent or knowledge. Halicki alleged that the defendants knowingly and deliberately sought to capitalize and exploit the car’s fame from the movie, even though the defendants had no association with, participation in, or connection with the creation or development of the movie or of Eleanor.