One reads over at Ars Technica that although the Batmobile is not a character, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Ninth Circuit ruling that DC Comics can (and does) hold a copyright in the Batmobile. The Ninth Circuit earlier found that
….in general, the Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles” or items with an intrinsic utilitarian function such as automobiles. Leicester v. Warner Bros., 232 F.3d 1212, 1216-17 (9th Cir. 2000). Defendant’s argument, however, ignores the exception to the “useful article” 4 Case 2:11-cv-03934-RSWL-OP Document 22 Filed 01/26/12 Page 4 of 5 Page ID #:192 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile. Id. at 1219, n.3. As the facts are pled in the Complaint, the Court can make the reasonable inference that there may be non-functional artistic elements of the Batmobile that may possibly be separated from the utilitarian aspect of the automobile. Klarfeld, 944 F.2d at 585 (9th Cir. 1991)(holding that all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party in a motion to dismiss). As such, the Court finds that the Batmobile and all of its relevant embodiments are not, as a matter of law, excluded from copyright protection….
See, from the Ninth Circuit, the opinion in DC Comics v. Mark Towle, embedded below: