Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler has won a legal battle with his nephews when a court in Los Angeles ruled they cannot use the Flynt name for their own line of porn. After a four-week trial, a federal court jury found in Flynt’s favor in a case brought on grounds of trademark infringement and false endorsement.
Flynt and his lawyers argued that the nephews were trying to capitalize on the his (sleazy) reputation as head of Larry Flynt Publications by marketing their own films using only their last name, Flynt. Following the verdict, the temporary injunction he received barring them from using the Flynt name will become a permanent one.
The case has a number of interesting points. The trademark rules can be used to prevent offensive marks from issuing under public order exceptions. Generally, one has the right to use one’s own name to sell goods. Here the mark Flynt is clearly not offensive per se and the jury appear to be convinced that there is a likelihood of confusion, and are protecting the public from purchasing poorer quality pornography, believing the nephews films to be up to (down to) Larry Flynt’s notorious, explicit standards.