John DeLorean is credited with creating the first American ‘muscle car’, the Pontiac GTO, in the 1960s. Off the back of this success, he quit his job as an automotive innovator at General Motors and launched his own company in early 1970.
It was here that the sleek DCM 12 with gull-wing doors would be produced, which was later referred to simply as “the DeLorean”.
But in 1980 the company went bankrupt, only ever having produced 9,000 cars. It was also around this time that Zemeckis and Gale were waiting for inspiration on what their time machine would look like.
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Did you know that in the earlier drafts of the script, the time machine was designed to be a fridge? This was soon omitted due to Zemeckis being “concerned that kids would accidentally lock themselves in refrigerators”. This, in turn, led them to wanting a more mobile time machine.
The fact that “it looked like a spacecraft in 1950s flashback scenes,” and had a cult following, soon landed the DeLorean the role.
But now the DeLorean has made it back into the news, finding itself in the middle of a battle between automaker DeLorean’s widow and the DeLorean Motor Company in Texas .
Sally DeLorean has filed claims that the company has been unlawfully using the DeLorean name to sell merchandise. It seems they have also been illegally licensed to sell these products to stores such as Nike and Apple.
Furthermore, the company has plans to build an electric version of the car based on designs that actually belong to the DeLorean’s.
The lawsuit alleges that the company “has improperly and illegally appropriated for its own use Mr. DeLorean’s legacy, including the DeLorean Identity, together with intellectual property”.
Scott Thompson, Sally’s attorney, explains that DeLorean bought all the company’s trademarks and intellectual property (IP) when it went bankrupt. He goes on to say that in 2004, a year before his death, he allowed the Texas company to modify the car’s user manual. The fact that the IP belonged to DeLorean was clearly noted.
“There is definitely no written agreement” that he gave them the rights to his trademark, Thompson said. “To the extent that any written agreement exists, it says the opposite.”
According to William Mead, the attorney representing DeLorean Motor Company, the company had already been operating ten years before John’s death and has registered trademarks. He further explains that DeLorean knew of their business and didn’t oppose it.
“Now, years after Mr. DeLorean’s death, Sally DeLorean has unfortunately filed a lawsuit as a representative of the Estate of John DeLorean,” Mead said. “The DeLorean Motor Company denies that the Plaintiff has any right or authority to prevent the DeLorean Motor Company from operating its 30-year-old business, and has no right to money damages.”
Apart from wanting to stop the company from using the trademark, DeLorean seeking damages, including any profits that had been made through the use of said trademark.
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