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When it comes to peddling porn, Larry Flynt wants you to know his videos of people having sex are a cut above other smut on the rack.
So when a pair of nephews Flynt personally groomed for the porn business decided to launch their own company last year and use the family name, the creator of “Barely Legal,” “Busty Beauties” and “Daddy Gets Lucky” wasted no time suing the upstarts for trademark infringement.
Flynt accused his brother Jimmy Flynt’s sons in federal court of tarnishing his image by launching Flynt Media Corp. and producing a series of videos he says are nothing but cheap knockoffs.
“The junk they publish hurts my reputation, which in turn hurts my revenue,” the gruff, gravelly voiced porn king testified this week in U.S. District Court, where a Flynt family feud is playing out before a stone-faced jury and a no-nonsense judge.
The four women and four men of the mostly middle-aged jury stoically viewed photos of some of the nephews’ DVD boxes. Images of naked, well-endowed women on the front and people in all sorts of contortions on the back were flashed on a giant-screen TV right next to them.
A few jurors scribbled notes. Some studied the images carefully. But there was nary a snicker, a blush nor a smile.
With Judge A. Howard Matz bearing down on the attorneys to keep things moving, testimony was wrapped up in three days and jurors began their deliberations Friday.
The porn mogul, who was paralyzed when he was shot by a white-supremacist sniper in 1978, sat in court in his gold-plated, velvet-lined wheelchair Tuesday and Wednesday.
He testified that his nephews, Jimmy Flynt Jr. and Dustin Flynt, were a pair of bumbling, incompetent employees that he only kept on the payroll for years out of a sense of family obligation.
Jimmy Jr. worked for him for 17 years and Dustin Flynt for 10, and both had risen to management positions at Larry Flynt Publications before they were fired in November 2007.
“I felt they were doing a horrible job,” said Flynt, who owns Hustler magazine and other publications, operates Internet sites and retail stores, produces films, owns pricey real estate and even markets a line of clothing.
The defendants’ father, who isn’t named in the lawsuit, is fighting his own battle with Larry Flynt in Ohio, suing his brother for attempting to evict him from a building in Cincinnati where he operates a Hustler retail store.
Larry Flynt, whose privately owned company has been said to be worth tens of millions of dollars, testified Wednesday that he terminated his brother last year to save money for his legal battle against the nephews.
Soon after being fired, Jimmy Jr. launched Flynt Media Corp. and brought his younger brother aboard. They produced a handful of sexually explicit videos before Flynt got a court order shutting down their business pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Jimmy Jr., 37, and Dustin Flynt, 34, testified that when they named their company and began producing videos with “FLYNT” in large letters on the boxes, they had no intention of being confused with their uncle.
Although they aren’t household names like their uncle, both insisted they are celebrities within the more insular world of porn and would be quickly found out if they tried to pass their work off as his.
“There was nothing to gain in trying to trick the trade,” said Jimmy Flynt Jr., who bears a striking resemblance to his square-jawed uncle.
They also said their videos are classy, the design of the boxes less cluttered and more modern than what their uncle’s company puts out, and the sex is done tastefully.
“With the new line we are looking to bring back the class and elegance of erotica,” Dustin Flynt said.
For his part, Larry Flynt acknowledged that he long ago trademarked his well-known Hustler brand but never got around to trademarking his name.
“I just never heard of someone using someone else’s name,” he said.
Still, he said, that name often appears on Hustler-produced videos, frequently on the top of the box, in the phrase “Larry Flynt’s Private Collection.”
And that, Flynt and his lawyers say, is an assurance to purchaser that they’re getting the highest-quality porn their money can buy.
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