NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – A settlement in a lawsuit over the car used in the 1985 film “Back to the Future” has hit a roadblock.
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.
The two sides in the lawsuit reached a preliminary settlement in June that would pay an undisclosed amount of money to Sally DeLorean, who lives in New Jersey with her daughter. But her attorney wrote in a letter to the judge this week that the company’s lawyers were trying to change the settlement at the last minute.
The company is seeking to have DeLorean’s estate say on the record that its case had no merit and also “consent to the use by the Defendant of the name DeLorean for virtually any purpose,” attorney R. Scott Thompson wrote.
In a response letter to the judge filed Thursday, an attorney for the Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company denied those claims and said the company just wants language in the settlement that ensures it isn’t sued in the future and that “allows them simply to carry on their business as it has been operated in the past 20 plus years.”
Attorneys for both sides didn’t respond to emails seeking comment Thursday.
John DeLorean, an automotive innovator who began his career at General Motors before forming his own company in the 1970s, died in New Jersey in 2005 at age 80 after years of court battles that included a highly publicized drug trial in the 1980s in which he was acquitted of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of cocaine. 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.
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.
Sally DeLorean’s suit claims the DeLorean Motor Company has been illegally using the DeLorean name to sell hats, pens, notebooks, key chains and other items, and has illegally licensed the name and images to other companies including Nike, Mattel, Urban Outfitters and Apple. The company has never been formally affiliated with the one DeLorean started.
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