The people in Larry Flynt's family vs. Larry Flynt

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The people in Larry Flynt's family vs. Larry Flynt

Thu Jan 08, 2009 @ 12:53AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Flynt_xj_f_10854_10854 Porn mogul Larry Flynt has a habit of doing outrageous things to generate publicity. Or maybe he was serious when he recently teamed up with "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis to ask the U.S. Congress for a $5 billion bailout to save the porn industry. 

But Flynt also often finds himself in the midst of precedent-setting court cases, such as his war with the late religious right icon Jerry Falwell, which landed at the U.S. Supreme Court and in theaters via Milos Forman's underrated "The People vs. Larry Flynt." 

On Monday, Flynt filed a lawsuit against two nephews who are using the "Flynt" name to sell their own line of adult entertainment films. It's too soon to put Flynt's latest legal bomb in casebooks, but he's certainly setting the stage for more courtroom theatrics. Flynt argues that his nephews will tarnish his own brand of high-quality porn by coming out with "inferior products" and "knock-off goods." 

Defendant Dustin Flynt defends himself by asking, "The fact of the matter is my name is Flynt. If I can't use my name to do business, then what kind of society, what kind of world is that?"

Wrongful appropriation of name and reputation, or "passing off," has become a much more frequent by-product claim since many states have enacted strong laws protecting the personality and publicity rights of celebrities.
Perhaps our favorite is the case of Evil Knievel suing rapper Kanye West after the musician put on a daredevil costume and did a motorcycle trick in the video for "Touch the Sky." There's also the ongoing dispute between 50 Cent and Taco Bell over a cute promotion where the chain wanted the rapper to change his name to match prices on its menu.

Many of these cases are settled (as was Knievel's right before he died) because damages are low and hard to prove. But the Flynts don't seem like the amicable settlement types. Unless this is all part of the show.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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