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Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. DeCosta
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
377 F.2d 315 (1967)
Victor DeCosta (plaintiff) had a passion for all things western and, adopting the name Paladin, he appeared in rodeos, horse shows, horse auctions, and parades dressed in a particular costume. Equipped with a mustache, DeCosta wore a black outfit, a flat-crowned black hat adorned with a medal, a silver chess piece in his holster, and an antique derringer strapped under his arm. During each appearance, DeCosta distributed photographs of himself and business cards with the message “Have Gun Will Travel, Wire Paladin.” About a decade after DeCosta had begun his role of Paladin, the CBS television show Have Gun Will Travel appeared with the title character of Paladin, whose costume and appearance, as well as his business cards, were almost identical to those of DeCosta. DeCosta sued CBS for unfair competition on the grounds that CBS had copied his original idea and character. The writers and producers responsible for the television show claimed to have never seen DeCosta or his business cards and further testified that the television Paladin was a spontaneous creation and mere coincidence. The jury held in favor of DeCosta and awarded damages. CBS appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Coffin, J.)
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