Rin-Tin-Tin is a trademarked term.
At least, one Daphne Hereford of Crocket Texas owns the tradmark rights to "Rin-Tin-Tin" as it applies to "live puppies."
No word on what the US trademark office has to say about marketing dead puppies as "Rin-Tin-Tin."
A US distributor is releasing a 2007 Bulgarian flick, Finding Rin-Tin-Tin on DVD, and Ms. Hereford is suing to have all copies of the film
It is not clear to me how a trademark on a term as it applies to the sale of live puppies affects the use of the proper name in a movie which, while it may take liberties with the facts, is roughly a work of art depicting a historical personage. Caninage. Whatever.
But according to the Houston Chronicle
I mean, I know! Just compare these superior "linebred" descendants of the original Rin-Tin-Tin:
According to the new lawsuit, Hereford's trademarks on the Rin Tin Tin name include its use for live puppies, educational presentations, a mail-order fan club, magazines, playing cards, children's books, dog clothing and dog food.
Hereford's Houston-based lawyer, Karen Tripp, said the current case is about the dilution of trademarks. "Daphne has a very strong trademark in Rin Tin Tin. Her registrations are incontestable," Tripp said.
The possible remedies are varied, Tripp said. "At the very least, there has to be a notice that these are not Rin Tin Tin dogs but actors. Her dogs are beautiful and well-trained, and she wants it clear in the marketplace," the lawyer said.
Daphne Hereford's "history" page
With these hideous counterfeits:
(Hint: in Eastern Europe, the wicked commies did a very good job of breeding real working GSDs, the better to oppress their population, Dearie. Dog shows were a bourgeois no-no.)
So if I make a film about the life of Rinty contemporary Errol Flynn, do I have to cast Sean Flynn to play Pop-Pop? If I wanna make a movie about Oscar Wilde, am I SOL?
There's so much not to like about this sheet-shedding tempest in a steel bowl:
• Ms. Hereford's inbreeding program
• Her "eye" for a German shepherd dog, and delusions that the beasts she owns today bear any more resemblance to great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandad than does any other German shepherd
• $3500 for an indifferently-bred shepherd pup, sold on a sterilization contract
• What promises to be a truly vile direct-to-video animal-themed movie, which I now feel compelled to at least rent
You can patent a mouse or a yeast. I don't agree with it, but that's the law as it is. You can protect a bloodline of animals with hardass contracts, and it's the obligation of the civil courts to enable you to enforce those contracts.
Ownership of the name and story of a historical figure, by virtue of ownership of some of his descendants, and an aggressive trademarking campaign?