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Andy Griffith Wins Right to Run for Sheriff

Posted May 7, 2007 1:04 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although he lost resoundingly the last time around, Andy Griffith can continue to run for sheriff in Grant County, Wis., a federal judge has ruled.

The federal court in Madison, Wis., was brought into the electoral fray by a lawsuit filed by the "real" Andy Griffith, a television actor now in his 80s, who famously played a small-town sheriff by the same name in an enormously popular 1960s television program. He sued over the name change that turned Grant County sheriff's candidate Willliam Harold Fenwick, 42, into Andrew Jackson Griffith. The name change, the original Griffith contended, violated copyright and trademark law, as well as his own privacy, explains an AP article written at the time the suit was filed last fall, just after the former Fenwick lost the Grant County sheriff's race.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz sided with the Andy Griffith namesake, ruling Friday that he didn't violate copyright or trademark law because he hadn't changed his name for commercial gain and no one was likely to have confused him with the television actor, explains this AP article. Meanwhile, the federal court doesn't have jurisdiction over invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment claims, according to Shabaz, who says these "interesting and novel issues," in the context of a political campaign, can be decided in Wisconsin state court.

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