A Tribute to
One of TV's
In 1974, a Portuguese(!) cowboy
from Rhode Island(!) named Victor De Costa won a federal court judgment in
his second suit against CBS for trademark infringement, successfully litigating
his assertion that he had created the Paladin character and the ideas used
in the show -- which were somehow stolen by HGWT's producers. (Rather dubious
since HGWT's original concept was that of a modern day globe-trotting detective.)
He claimed he began billing himself as Paladin after an Italian man stood
up at a horse show and called him a "paladino." He claimed he'd adopted the
phrase "Have Gun, Will Travel" after someone shouted it at him while he was
on a bucking bronco. At his appearances he always dressed in black, he handed
out hundreds of HGWT business cards, and he even carried a concealed derringer.
resemblance between Mr. De Costa and Richard Boone was nothing less than striking.
(See above photo.) Although monetary damages were not immediately awarded,
De Costa stood to gain a tidy sum, as court testimony indicated that HGWT
had made more than $14 million for CBS (a titanic amount in the 1950's-60's),
plus millions more in product licensing. A year later, a court
of appeals overturned the lower court, ruling that the plaintiff had failed
to prove that the public had been deceived -- i.e., there had been no likelihood
of confusion in the minds of the public -- a necessary requirement for a suit
over trademark infringement. However, De Costa kept pursuing his legal options,
and in 1991 -- more than 30 years after his first lawsuit was originally
filed -- he was awarded over 3 million dollars after quietly trademarking
the Paladin character and business card in the late 70's. Unfortunately, Mr.
De Costa passed away at the age of 83 before he could receive a single penny.