DeLorean Motor Company Sues NBCUniversal Over Unpaid Royalties

A trip into legal history

DeLorean ride
Visitors look at the DeLorean Time Machine from the movie Back To The Future inside The NBCUniversal Experience attraction at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Hollywood.
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The DeLorean that transports Marty McFly to 1955 in Back to the Future — and to several other temporal destinations in its sequels — is one of the most iconic vehicles to appear on the big screen. There’s a reason why it ended up with a prime spot on the National Mall last year, after all. The aforementioned DeLorean has turned up in a few other places since then, all nods to its original cinematic appearance, ranging from a theme park ride to the film Ready Player One.

Much as the trilogy sent its characters into the past to revisit the finer details of history, a lawsuit filed by DeLorean Motor Company, which owns the trademarks to the original automaker’s work, against NBCUniversal makes the case that they’re owed royalties based on an agreement signed between Universal Studios and John DeLorean in 1989.

A Los Angeles Times article has more details about the suit, which was filed in a federal court this week. The case, DeLorean Motor Company v. NBCUniversal Media LLC et al, was assigned to a magistrate judge on December 6, 2022. DeLorean Motor Company contends that it’s owed money under the terms of the arrangement — specifically, as the Times article notes, “5% of the revenue from merchandising and commercial tie-ups connected to the films.”

The amount of money DeLorean Motor Company is seeking from the suit remains to be seen.

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