Shelby Won in Its Fight Over 'Eleanor' Trademark

Shelby says the value of all Shelby GT500s is secure now that the fight is over.

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Image: Alf van Beem Wikicommons

A long-running fight over whether or not a vehicle is a character that can be copyrighted is over. Ford Authority reports Shelby American has won its trademark fight over the use of the “Eleanor” name that became famous in the Gone in Sixty Seconds movies.

The fight centered on Denice Shakarian Halicki, who is the widow of H.B. Halicki, who directed the original Gone in Sixty Seconds in 1974. She had brought suits against numerous individuals over the years over the use of the name Eleanor. Eleanor, of course, refers to the famous Mustangs used in the movies (the GT500 Eleanor from the 2000 remake is probably more famous than the original).

Over the years, Halicki proved successful in her suits. Suing through her media company Eleanor Licensing LLC, she was able to stop a lot of car projects. She even had one Youtuber’s project car taken over trademark issuing using the name. After Shelby American attempted to license the Eleanor name for a version of Mustang to be sold to the public, she successfully won a suit against the company stopping the project.

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Her argument was of character copyright: that the vehicles referred to as Eleanor in the films were a character that could be copyrighted, which in turn prevented Shelby and anyone else from using the name. Halicki had been profiting off of the name for years, licensing it for use on everything from clothes to a line of toy cars. The case paints a timeline of Halicki entering into various agreements over the years for remakes of the film, culminating in the 2000 remake and the attempt by Shelby to license the name to sell to customers.

The court ruled against Halicki saying that any vehicles using the Eleanor name don’t have copyright protection. And in any event, and as pointed out in the case, the Eleanor in the remake wasn’t a “ derivative work” of the car in the original film. While they’re both fastback Mustangs, the Mustang in the 2000 film is a GT500 while the Mustang in the original film is just a yellow fastback Mustang.

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According to Ford Authority, Shelby American said in a statement that, “the true value of all Shelby GT500s is now secure with this news.”