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The Eleanor Mustang is no longer under copyright protection. The Shelby Trust has won their lawsuit adjacent Denice Halicki, the spouse of Gone in 60 Seconds producer Toby Halicki.


The courts have ruled that the Eleanor name is not exclusive to movie character cars.

The Shelby Trust has just won a decade-long legal battle against Denice Halicki, the surviving spouse of H.B. "Toby" Halicki, who claimed that her late husband's films effectively created a standalone copyrightable character known as Eleanor that others had illegally copied.

As reported by Business Wire, Mrs. Halicki felt that the films her husband had shot with cars named Eleanor had created a character that only she had the legal rights to, claiming that this meant that the Shelby Trust and other companies could not build, sell, or auction Mustang Shelby GT500s in Eleanor guise. To gain an understanding of why she feels this way, we must provide a quick history lesson.

Toby Halicki produced the original Gone in 60 Seconds film from 1974, 1982's The Junkman, and 1983's Deadline Auto Theft. Various yellow and black Mustangs that were codenamed "Eleanor" appeared in Gone in 60 Seconds and Deadline Auto Theft, while a beat-up prop car from the first film was also featured in The Junkman. The cringe-fest that was the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds then featured what is arguably the most famous version of Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby GT500 painted grey with black stripes.

Mrs. Halicki claimed that all of these different vehicles known as Eleanor constituted a single copyrightable character that she owned, and this alleged copyright ownership supposedly meant she had the power to prohibit the Shelby Trust from licensing other individuals and companies to manufacture and even sell or auction GT500s.

It is well documented that Mrs. Halicki has sued and threatened those who manufacture grey and black GT500s, as well as auction houses and even individual customers. In her eyes, only Eleanor replicas built by Fusion Motor Company are legal, and this continual onslaught effectively forced the Shelby Trust to sue in order to protect its licensees and owners of Shelby GT500 models.

Thankfully, this dispute is now at an end after the US District Court for the Central District of California has decisively ruled on the matter, stating that the various vehicles named Eleanor in these films are not deserving of any "character" copyright protection. The Court's 41-page ruling on the matter is scathing.
 
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