If you’ve ever seen the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds”, you know the name Eleanor. Naturally, the enthusiast interest in building Eleanor Mustang replicas skyrocketed thanks to the silver screen and the 2000’s remake. In no short time, however, lawsuits were volleyed at just about everybody who wished to do so, on grounds of copyright infringement (the argument being that Eleanor is a movie character, therefore requires licensing from the party that owns the intellectual property). But those lawsuits may be thwarted going forward, thanks to The Shelby Trust.
In a nutshell, anyone can now build their own 1967 GT500 Ford Mustang and call it Eleanor without the cloud of copyright infringement hanging over their head. This wasn’t always the case though. Denice Shakarian Halicki, the widow of Henry Blight “Toby” Halicki, who was directing the original movie before being killed in a stunt gone wrong, inherited the rights to the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds.” In 1995, Denice made a deal with Hollywood Pictures to do an updated remake. When this happened, she did not apply for a trademark for the car, but the late, great Carroll Shelby did. He obtained one and even had a partnership going with a Texas-based builder to produce high quality replicas.
Denice sued Shelby, and ended up winning with a settlement that granted her exclusive copyright to the Eleanor Mustang. As is typical with anyone holding a copyright in their hands, Denice defended it to limit creating a wealth of reluctance to anyone wanting to profit off of making their own replicas from the movie. An example of this was when B is for Build dared to build an Eleanor remake not long ago, only to have the project confiscated by Halicki’s people, never to be seen again.
Carroll Shelby Licensing and the Shelby Trust sued Halicki right back and won big this time. In the end the courtroom ruled that Halicki was being too “overzealous” in her efforts to defend the copyright. Winning this battle means Dencie can no longer complain or file a lawsuit against anyone building an Eleanor Mustang. She does, however, get the opportunity to appeal the court’s decision, so build them without worry, while you can.