Q: Can I make and sell model cars that are based on a famous Indianapolis 500 car?
A: This would be risky if you did not have the permission of the car designer and/or driver. The care could be covered by a design patent. Also, there is a somewhat famous case in which someone who did exactly what you propose was found to have violated the "right of publicity" of the driver. In Motschenbacher v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 498 F.2d 821 (9th Cir. 1974), the court found that infringement had occured because the design of the race car was so famous, that it was associated with the personality of the driver.
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