Legal cases and disputes that get taken to court are serious matters, often with precedent-setting significance and high emotional and monetary cost. Except, of course, when they are utterly ridiculous.
Here are three of the most hilarious legal disputes that you might find hard to believe ever got to court.
Batman vs. Batman
Batman is…a city in Turkey, located on the Batman river in the province of…Batman. The Batman you have most likely heard of is the fictional superhero originally created by American comic book publisher, DC Comics, and main character of the huge film franchise of the same name.
In 2008, the mayor of the city of Batman, Huseyin Kalkan, filed a legal case against Christopher Nolan, director of the latest Batman trilogy of films, and Warner Brothers, the studio responsible for the production of the films. His claim stated that the film’s producers had not sought permission for the use of the name, Batman, which should have been expressly given by the city officials of Batman.
“There is only one Batman in the world”, Kalkan is reported to have said in defence of his claim, which included seeking compensation in the form of royalty payments and reparations for psychological difficulties suffered by residents of the city.
Pearson vs. Custom Cleaners (The Pants Lawsuit)
When a US Federal Judge gets involved in a legal case, you’d probably think it would be for an esteemed moral crusade to benefit society at large and answer humanity’s deeper philosophical questions. Or, perhaps, smacking a dry-cleaning business with a multi-million dollar lawsuit for losing a pair of trousers.
In Washington D.C., in 2005, Judge Roy L. Pearson, demanded the dry cleaning company, Custom Cleaners, pay him $67,000,000 to cover the cost and mental anguish of having his trousers lost. Thankfully, before the three-month case ended, Pearson lowered his demand to a slightly more “reasonable” $54,000,000.
As you can imagine, and despite Pearson’s tears and exhibitions of distress, the court ruled in favour of Custom Cleaners. The ruling, however, did not stop Pearson launching an appeal, which was rejected, and then attempting to sue the city of Washington D.C.
Custom Cleaners did find his trousers unharmed two days after having lost them. Pearson hadn’t been interested.
Warner/Chappell Music vs. Happy Birthday
Before February 2016, if you’d ever sung Happy Birthday and not paid Warner/Chappell Music approximately $1500 for the privilege, you’d have technically been breaking the law.
Though the wonderful tune we all sing to wish our loved ones well on the anniversary of their birth is one of those with a disputed history, Warner/Chappell managed to obtain the rights to the song for $22,000,000 in 1988. Since then the music giant has been estimated to have made roughly $2,000,000 a year licensing the tune for TV use and movies.
In September 2015, US district judge George H King ruled that the company only owned elements of the melody of the song, and not the entirety including the lyrics.
Warner/Chappell Music agreed earlier this year to end the court case against them by paying $14,000,000 by way of compensation to those who were charged in the past for using the song.