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						B Is For Build Eleanor2
Eleanor Mustang Tribute Project Seized

YouTuber's Eleanor Mustang seized in legal battle

By Dean Larson

Trade dress, copyrights and likeness are hot topics when it comes to replica and continuation vehicles, and there’s no doubt that the legal landscape will be the biggest hurdle for replica projects in the coming decades. It pays to be mindful of intellectual property laws at the start of a build, and the latest trending story on the subject is a worst-case-scenario of what can happen if you’re not careful.

The story all starts with a YouTuber by the name of Chris Steinbacher and his channel titled B is for Build. Steinbacher has undertaken several ambitious projects on the channel, but a recent Mustang body swap landed him in hot water the intellectual property owner of the iconic Eleanor Mustang. Both the 1971 (dressed as a ’73) and 1967 Mustang from the Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) movie and the 2000 remake are owned by Eleanor Licensing LLC, and the owners have vowed to take legal action to retain sole use of its name and likeness. In fact, the owners even sued Shelby back in the early 2000s over some high dollar Eleanor Mustang recreations, and the company was forced to stop producing the cars.

But that’s quite a bit different from Steinbacher’s project, which was a one-off body swap that started with a 2015 Mustang GT. After removing the pony car’s factory sheet metal, Steinbacher fit a 1967 Mustang body onto the chassis, preserving many of the car’s high-tech features. But Steinbacher went wrong when he decided to dress the car like the 2000 version of Eleanor, sporting the telltale front bumper, headlights, sidepipes and fender flares. We weren’t following the project to know the rest of Steinbacher’s intentions with the car, or whether he was using the Eleanor name openly, and he has since removed all videos featuring the project.

Long story short, Eleanor Licensing filed a suit over Steinbacher’s project and the car has since been seized. Steinbacher has since been choosing his words carefully and announced on that the project is over in a short video on June 1. Fans of B is for Build have been doing their homework and have formed a petition to have the project car returned to the channel, but it seems that Steinbacher is moving on and washing his hands of the project — and one can hardly blame him after all the fuss.

At the end of the day, intellectual property rights exist for a reason and it’s best to go through exhaustive efforts to make sure you’re on the right side of the law before you start a project. And one can hardly blame the folks at Eleanor Licensing for protecting their property when it comes to folks using the car’s name and likeness for profit. While not to the scale of Shelby’s, B is for Build would be profiting from the car’s image, and that’s likely where the issue comes in. But in the grand scheme of things, Steinbacher’s car is a small fish in a big pond, and having the car seized from a fun YouTube channel is bad press.

At the end of the day, the B is for Build Mustang project was far enough on the wrong side of the law. So just remember folks, protect your investment and your backside, and mind your Ps and Qs.

It’s important to note that proper, licensed Eleanor Mustang recreations are available from the firm Brand New Muscle Car in Oklahoma.

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