- As "The Incredible Hulk," Lou Ferrigno probably would have ripped off his shirt in anger. Instead, he‘s suing his brother over trademark rights to a fitness equipment store.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in
"This is bullying," said Scott Wilhelm, lawyer for the defendants. "Andrew and his wife have been running their business for over 20 years, and now, for the first time ever, Lou wants to shut them down."
The lawsuit claims the "defendants deliberately chose a trade name incorporating the Ferrigno name in an effort to profit from the reputation and renown of Lou Ferrigno."
The 53-year-old actor, who lives in
Andrew Ferrigno and his wife live in Bethlehem,
Thursday, May 18, 206
By TOM QUIGLEY
GREENWICH TWP. A federal magistrate has ordered Andrew Ferrigno and his television star brother Lou to settle their legal dispute over Ferrigno Fitness.
The Route 57 fitness store, which Andrew Ferrigno owns, is at the center of a federal lawsuit brought by Lou Ferrigno against his brother in early January.
On Wednesday, a federal magistrate ordered the brothers to seek an out-of-court agreement through a court-appointed mediator. Andrew Ferrigno's wife, Janie, is also a defendant and co-owner of the fitness shop.
"Mediation is a good idea," Phillipsburg attorney Scott Wilhelm said. "It's worth the effort in this case."
Wilhelm -- who represents Andrew Ferrigno, 52, of Bethlehem -- said it's a good opportunity for both sides to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the trademark rights case.
Lou Ferrigno, 53, of Santa Clara, Calif., claims in the suit his brother and sister-in-law are unlawfully trading on the name and image of the former action star, featured in the 1970s TV show "The Incredible Hulk."
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Trenton, claims the store has a green awning, portions of the interior are green, and one green wall is covered with photos of Lou Ferrigno in bodybuilding poses, as well as in his trademark green makeup for his role as the Hulk.
The lawsuit asserts that the "defendants deliberately chose a trade name incorporating the Ferrigno name in an effort to profit from the reputation and renown of Lou Ferrigno."
"On numerous occasions, Lou Ferrigno and members of his family have been contacted or approached by strangers or acquaintances who believe that Ferrigno Fitness is 'Lou's store,'" the complaint reads.
"We just think it's ludicrous and ridiculous," Andrew Ferrigno said Wednesday. "I've been in business more than 20 years."
Andrew Ferrigno said he and his brother have always had "a great relationship."
The Ferrigno brothers worked out together as young boys in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn years ago.
He said his brother Lou called him a couple of days before the suit was filed.
"His comment was it's strictly business and don't take it personally," Andrew Ferrigno said. He said he initially felt ashamed about the whole thing.
"Now I'm adamant," he said. "This is costing me money."
He said the photos of Lou Ferrigno in his shop were signed by the former actor and presented to his family.
"Those pictures were signed to my children," said Andrew Ferrigno, the father of one daughter and two sons.
The lawsuit also accuses the Warren County business of cyber squatting by registering the Internet domain name www.ferrignofitness.com. Lou Ferrigno says he has been using that corporate name for his own business ventures.
Andrew Ferrigno said he offered to change the Web site to settle the suit and his brother refused.
"He's very hard-nosed about this," he said.
Wilhelm has said Lou Ferrigno wants to shut down his brother's store and described the lawsuit as "bullying."
Newark attorney Anthony P. Callaghan, who is among the attorneys representing Lou Ferrigno, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Andrew Ferrigno said he and his late father, Matthew, moved the business from Brooklyn to Greenwich Township more than 20 years ago.
The mediation is not binding and the case could still go to trial.
This is what the http://www.ferrignofitness.com/ website says:
"In answer to the questions that have been raised concerning the disclaimer put on our website concerning Lou Ferrigno, I would like to explain in the following paragraph. I Andy Ferrigno have been in the Fitness business since 1980 doing business as Ferrigno Fitness . For the first fifteen years of business I had the pleasure of working side by side with my father Matt Ferrigno . We built a great business by manufacturing quality fitness equipment at a price that people can afford. We treated every person as an individual and built a solid reputation on honesty and integrity. In 2001 after my father developed stomach cancer which later turned fatal, I moved my family out to Bethlehem Pennsylvania and closed our New York store. I now have only one location which is located in Stewartsville New Jersey which has been open since 1980 and use the same ideas that made us so successful in the past. Unfortunately we are currently being sued by Lou Ferrigno my brother for the rights to the Ferrigno name .
After my fathers death my brother Lou befriended me and my wife and I thought we could rekindle a relationship that was estranged many years earlier, He however used my friendship as a chance to attack me and my family. He levied a Law suit against us knowing full well all the facts that I outlined above. He did this knowing full well that my wife was battling stage two breast cancer. I worry about her everyday and thank the lord for every precious moment that we spend together. Currently my wife is under a great deal of anxiety and stress because of this ridiculous law suit , but I know that God will guide our path. Please read the attached article and realize that life sometimes can be a rocky road however if you stay on course you will eventually reach your goals. Thank you all for reading my story and may God bless you as he has done for me and my family."