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Suit settled over car used in ‘Back to the Future’ films

🕐 2 min read

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In time for “Back to the Future” day, the widow of the automaker whose famous car traveled through time in the 1985 movie and its sequels has settled a lawsuit over the use of his name.

Last year, the widow of automaker John DeLorean sued a Texas company she said has been illegally using the DeLorean name for years. The DMC-12, known simply as “the DeLorean,” was driven by Michael J. Fox in the movie and has since gained a cult following.

Oct. 21, 2015 is the date Fox’s Marty McFly travels to in “Back to the Future II” and finds, among other innovations, flying skateboards, automated dog-walkers and self-drying jackets.

Sally DeLorean, who lives in New Jersey with her daughter, sued the Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company, claiming it had been illegally using the DeLorean name to sell hats, pens, notebooks, key chains and other items, and illegally licensed the name and images to other companies including Nike, Urban Outfitters and Apple.

The company has never been formally affiliated with the one DeLorean started.

A preliminary settlement was reached in June but hit a speed bump over the summer. Last month, the parties agreed to a settlement that will pay Sally DeLorean an undisclosed sum while allowing the company to retain rights to use the DeLorean Motor Company name, trademarks and logo.

The estate will retain rights to John DeLorean’s name, aspects of his personal life and depictions of his likeness that aren’t public property or purchased from legitimate rights holders.

R. Scott Thompson, an attorney representing Sally DeLorean and the DeLorean estate, declined to comment on the specifics of the settlement but said his client “is satisfied with the outcome and is especially pleased that she and her daughter will be in a position to protect all aspects of John’s legacy going forward.”

James Espey, a vice president with the DeLorean Motor Company, said Tuesday night that the company “is happy to have this behind us so there’s no question what our rights are.”

“This allows us to get back to the business of doing business,” Espey added.

John DeLorean began his career at General Motors before forming his own company in the 1970s. Only about 9,000 DeLorean cars were produced before the company went bankrupt in the early 1980s, but the car’s sleek, angular look and gull-wing doors helped land it a role in the “Back to the Future” films.

DeLorean died in New Jersey in 2005 at age 80. His former estate in the rolling hills about 40 miles west of New York City was converted into a golf course by Donald Trump in 2004.

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