The DeLorean Is at the Center of a New Lawsuit

DMC wants the royalties it's owed from NBCUniversal.

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Ilya S. Savenok Getty Images

Its role in Hollywood defines the DMC DeLorean . Starring alongside Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd across the Back to the Future franchise, the silver-skinned time machine became famous nationwide. Nearly 40 years after its first on-screen appearance, the plutonium-powered DeLorean is now at the center of a new lawsuit.

The DeLorean Motor Co. is suing NBCUniversal over claims of unpaid royalties, LA Times reports. DMC purchased the intellectual property and trademarks for the DeLorean DMC-12 back in 1997, and now claims that NBCUnviersal is in breach of that standing contract. More specifically, DMC alleges that it is entitled to 5 percent of the revenue from merchandise and other commercial branding exercises related to the “Back to the Future” films and the time-traveling DeLorean. That figure is based on a deal that John DeLorean and Universal Studios agreed upon back in 1989. NBCUniversal has so far denied the allegations raised in the lawsuit.


“Despite NBCUniversal’s continuous use of the license originally granted to Universal Studios, and although NBCUniversal has continued to pay out some royalties, NBCUniversal has failed to fully pay DMC for such use per the 1989 agreement,” the lawsuit says.

DMC specifically pointed to the recent film Ready Player One as an example of the DeLorean being used on-screen without the company’s express permission. The lawsuit does not state how much money DMC believes it is owed from NBCUniversal.

This isn’t the first time that royalty payments related to the DeLorean have resulted in a court battle. The DeLorean estate and DMC went to federal court in New Jersey over who had the right to payments from NBCUniversal. DMC ultimately won a motion to dismiss the case. That’s probably not the best precedent for NBCUniversal, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out in court.

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Sean Corrigan
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