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A Tribute to
One of TV's
Finest Shows

The Controversy
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.


The physical 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.