CINCINNATI (CN) – The younger brother of porn mogul Larry Flynt has no ownership interest in the Hustler empire and failed to produce any evidence of a partnership agreement, a federal judge ruled.
The claims of a partnership arose after Larry Flynt’s LFP IP LLC and LFP Inc. filed suit in Ohio District Court for trademark infringement against Hustler Cincinnati Inc., a downtown store owned and operated by Jimmy Flynt, Larry’s younger brother.
LFP sought an injunction preventing Jimmy Flynt from using the company’s Hustler trademarks, but Jimmy filed a counterclaim stating that he was entitled to use the marks by way of an oral partnership agreement between himself and his brother Larry.
Jimmy has worked for his brother since the early 1980s and was appointed conservator of the Hustler brand during Larry’s imprisonment in 1984, but as U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman writes in the judgment, “in the conservatorship petition, Jimmy recited that Larry was the sole shareholder, director and chairman of all the enterprises.”
Bertelsman adds that “if Jimmy was a partner, why did he need to be appointed conservator?”
The Judge also cited Jimmy’s testimony during his brother’s divorce proceedings in 2003, when he “testified that he worked as a ‘consultant’ for his brother and that he merely traveled around the country looking for locations and managing stores.”
Bertelsman uses the Flynt brothers’ own testimony in this case as the foundation for his ruling, however, stating that “the court expressly accepts Larry’s testimony that there was never any partnership agreement: ‘Jimmy worked for me. He was my brother. That was the extent of our relationship.’
“The court so finds as the crucial fact in this case. Larry’s testimony on this ultimate issue of fact was positive and unambiguous. Jimmy’s testimony, on the other hand, was vague, evasive and inconsistent, and impeached by his own sworn testimony in other court proceedings. Therefore, the court rejects it.”
The parties now have 30 days to settle any remaining claims.