BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Hustler founder Larry Flynt was not pleased with the announcement last week that his nephews, Dustin Flynt and Jimmy Flynt II, are going into the adult video business as Flynt Media Corp.
Now, representatives of Larry Flynt and his company, LFP, Inc., say they are prepared to take legal action to stop what they claim is an unlawful use of the family name.
"We are obviously involved in a family battle, which we see as a case of egregious trademark infringement," LFP president Michael Klein told AVN.
"If Dustin and Jimmy entered the adult field as 'Dustin and Jimmy Flynt' or 'Dustin and Jimmy,' there would be no infringement. But their choice of Flynt Media Corp. as their company name, and their use of Flynt as the name of their video line, infringe trademarks filed with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, and a trademark that has become world-famous over the past 35 years. Accordingly, they can’t use that name alone. They are trying to free-ride on their uncle’s famous last name, at his expense."
Regardless, Dustin Flynt told AVN Monday afternoon that he would not change the name and intends to move forward with his company "full-steam ahead."
"I understand that Hustler is opposed to us using our name, and that’s unfortunate,” Dustin Flynt told AVN. "We’ll just have to let the lawyers work that out."
In a letter to AVN, Jimmy Flynt II denied Klein's allegations regarding the Flynt trademark.
"Unfortunately, the information provided by Mr. Klein is inaccurate and disappointing," Jimmy Flynt II said. "Without going into all of the issues, we expressly deny any claims of infringement, including the allegation that we are attempting to cash in on a famous trademark or that the name of our company infringes trademarks registered with the USPTO. For example, an affiliate of L.F.P Inc. is identified as the owner of USPTO registrations for “Larry Flynt’s Bar & Grill” for restaurant and bar services and “Larry Flynt’s Grand Slam of Poker” and “Larry Flynt’s Poker Challenge Cup” for poker tournaments and we do not believe consumers are going to confuse our FLYNT products and services with those registrations."
Dustin and Jimmy are the sons of Larry Flynt’s brother, Jimmy Flynt, Sr. Both have been involved in different aspects of the family business in the past, but the new venture is completely separate from the Hustler empire and its legendary founder.
"Hustler is not associated with Flynt Media Corp.," Dustin Flynt said. "We’re two entirely separate entities, and we don’t need permission from Hustler to send out a press release."
Hustler reps say that Larry Flynt and his associates were aware the two brothers planned to launch their own company. However, the name of the venture came as a shock to the Hustler camp when AVN broke the news Friday morning.
"When we saw the article, we consulted with counsel regarding this matter,” Klein said. “We understand that the brothers are named Flynt, and they would certainly be free to go into a business outside the adult world as 'Flynt Corp.' or something similar. In the adult entertainment industry, however, when 'Flynt Media Corp' appears, industry members and the public at large assume it’s another one of Larry Flynt’s companies. Larry Flynt has been in the field so long, and so famously, that the name Flynt brings to mind only one person. We are really troubled that the brothers would attempt to cash in on a famous trademark."
According to Klein, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the younger Flynts' attempt to copyright the surname as a brand for their adult video business.
"Larry can register his name as a trademark, because he’s become famous, and his name has secondary meaning," Klein said. "Dustin and Jimmy II are two guys named Flynt, and Uncle Sam said no to their trademark applications because, as to anybody without Larry’s fame, Flynt is merely a surname."
Jimmy Flynt II says the the brothers' trademark application is still pending.
"We have spent a considerable amount of time and expense in developing our business and protecting our intellectual property, including filing mark applications for FLYNT in the United States and abroad which are still pending," he said.
Dustin Flynt and Jimmy Flynt II plan to launch Flynt Media Corp. at the 2009 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.