Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - November 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company
Federal judge rules in favor of film studio in infringement case
Houston County Courier - November 2009
A federal judge in the Southern District of Texas ruled in favor of four film studios who had been sued by Rin Tin Tin owner/breeder Daphne Hereford.
The lawsuit alleged trademark infringement by the studio.
Judge Vanessa Gilmore handed down the order dismissing the case on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Judge Gilmore ruled that the use of Rin Tin Tin in the title of the film was fair use and protected by the First Amendment. The judge’s ruling focused on the title of the film and the historical recognition of Rin Tin Tin.
Ms. Hereford filed the lawsuit against NuImage Films, First Look Entertainment, First Look Studios and Millennium Films in late September 2008 charging them with trademark infringement after the studio released a film on DVD in the United States entitled “Finding Rin Tin Tin, The Adventure Continues.”
Ms. Hereford said that the dogs used in the film in question were from a kennel in Bulgaria and were certainly not a good representation of the canine celebrity Rin Tin Tin nor were they even related to him. She said that her complaint did not focus on the title of the film.
“I have been involved with the breeding, raising and training of Rin Tin Tin for the past 50+ years and felt it was inappropriate for the studio to misrepresent the dogs in their film,” Ms. Hereford said.
According to her Houston attorney, Karen Tripp, Ms. Hereford may appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, La.
Scott Marrs, attorney for the movie producers told the Houston Chronicle he sees the decision as a boon for the entertainment industry in Texas.
Marrs reportedly added that the decision upholds artists’ rights to express themselves without litigation.
According to information from the United Stases Patent and Trademark Office, Ms. Hereford is the owner of eight federally registered trademarks for Rin Tin Tin including marks for live German Shepherd dogs and puppies, books, magazines, live performances, fan club, toys, canine ambassador club, and a wide variety of other products.
According to Ms. Hereford, the first Rin Tin Tin starred in 26 Warner Brothers films and was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. The current Rin Tin Tin, #11 from the original, continues to make public appearances across the country. His most recent appearance was at the World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.
Ms. Hereford said the very selective Rin Tin Tin breeding program only produces about one-litter of puppies each year and after extensive testing they are placed in selective pet homes, as service dog candidates or search and rescue dog candidates across the United States.