Which one will Matlock represent?
Andy Griffith Sues Andy Griffith
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Nov 10, 6:21 PM (ET)
By COLIN FLY
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Forget the small-town belief in letting bygones be bygones. Andy Griffith, the actor who portrayed the sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., has sued a Wisconsin resident who unsuccessfully bid for the Grant County post after legally changing his name to Andrew Jackson Griffith in May.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 3 in U.S. District Court in Madison, alleges that William Harold Fenrick, 42, violated trademark and copyright laws as well as the privacy of actor Andy Samuel Griffith when he used his new name - Andy Griffith - to promote his candidacy for sheriff in southwestern Wisconsin.
The lawsuit says the former Fenrick changed his name for the "sole purpose of taking advantage of Griffith's notoriety in an attempt to gain votes" and asks the court to order Fenrick to go back to his original name.
Griffith's suit also asks Fenrick to publish disclaimers and an apology in Grant County newspapers, saying he has no association with the actor. It seeks unspecified damages and court fees.
"Now that the election is over, if Fenrick is willing in some fashion to clear the record, we probably could find a way to resolve it," said Griffith's lawyer, Jim Cole.
Fenrick protested that he did not benefit from the name change.
"During this campaign I never sold or profited even one nickel from the use of the name Andy Griffith or any item bearing the name Andy Griffith - everything was a promotional item, and everything was given away for free," he said.
The Platteville music store co-owner said he spent $5,000 on his failed campaign and changed his name to garner publicity for the race.
Incumbent Sheriff Keith Govier, a Republican who has held the post for 10 years, won with 8,452 votes, followed by Democrat Doug Vesperman, who got 6,985. Griffith, an independent, had 1,248 votes.
Fenrick described the suit as "incredibly absurd" and said he does not believe the public is "so brain dead" that they might actually believe that he is the famous actor.
"For such an American icon, it's a pretty un-American thing to do to me," said Fenrick, who has about three weeks to respond to the filing.
"There's no sense of humor. I can't believe how cheap and petty these people are," he said. "Do they seriously, seriously think anyone would mistake me?"
Griffith, 80, is best known for starring in "The Andy Griffith Show," a 1960s show that remains one of the most popular series in TV history. He also played an unorthodox lawyer on "Matlock" in the 1980s and 1990s.
Griffith, now retired and living in Manteo, N.C., also owns his own production company. He is recovering from recent hip replacement surgery.
"He seemed in good spirits," Cole said. "It's not something personal, it's the matter of the requirement under the trademark law. If you don't police it, you lose it."
I sure hope they dont have to get the cast from "Murder she wrote" involved in this mess.......
Or will it be "CSI NC