By: Alanna Autler | CBS 11's Ones For Justice

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas man who named his company after his dog is now at odds with one of the most recognizable brands in the country.

When you think of the Emmy’s, Hollywood, glamour and awards may come to mind. That’s exactly why the owner of a pet products store thought they were safe.

Kevin Rizer created Emmy’s Best five years ago. The online company specializes in custom pet products.

dog1 Emmy Awards Spar With Plano Pet Products Company Over Trademark Infringement

Kevin Rizer and his dog, Emmy.

Rizer’s dog, Emmy, served as the inspiration for the company. The 12-year-old yellow lab is part of Rizer’s family in every way. The name took on even more significance after Emmy was diagnosed with cancer.

“She’s our muse, our heart, soul, our inspiration,” said Rizer, who lives in Plano. “We call her the CEO, which is the Chief Emmy Officer.”

But now Rizer is at odds with another Emmy, only there’s no prize in sight.

“It’s definitely a David versus Goliath story,” Rizer said.

Last February, Rizer filed for a trademark for Emmy’s Best. That’s when he said the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences pushed back.

NATAS, the organization behind the Emmy Awards, claimed the trademark would confuse consumers, according to Rizer.

“They don’t think people can tell the difference between a pet products company…. and what they do… which is give out awards,” Rizer said.

The owner tried negotiating. He even offered to drop the trademark filing. But when NATAS suggested he drop Emmy’s name, Rizer refused.

“It’s not just a name,” Rizer said. “It is the soul of this business.”

With fewer than 10 employees, Emmy’s Best epitomizes a small business. Rizer said changing the name could tank the company. He alluded to the costs of rebranding the company and website, which only exists online.

“Changing that name is like starting over,” Rizer said.

The owner said NATAS isn’t backing down. Last month he said attorneys met for what he thought was a settlement conference.

“They showed up with six attorneys to our one,” Rizer said. “They’re preparing for war.”

NATAS claimed it provided the inspiration for Emmy’s Best. As a former TV producer, he dreamed of winning an Emmy award. A friend suggested he name his new puppy, “Emmy.”

dog3 Emmy Awards Spar With Plano Pet Products Company Over Trademark Infringement

Kevin Rizer and his dog, Emmy.

It’s a story detailed on the company’s website. It’s also a story NATAS highlights.

“Emmy has been the premier mark of excellence in television for seven decades,” wrote Paul Pillitteri, the senior vice president of communications for NATAS. “Emmy’s Best cites this legacy as its inspiration for copying the famous Emmy trademark.”

Meanwhile, Emmy the dog is waging her own battle. As she fights her third cancer diagnosis, Rizer hope she lives to see her last Christmas.

Even in her final days, Rizer said he finds himself inspired.

“She’s fighting so how can we not fight?” Rizer said.

And while Rizer never got the Emmy he dreamed of, he says the one he did get is far better.

“There’s still today only one Emmy in my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Rizer said.

NATAS did not respond to specific questions CBS 11 sent. Instead, a spokesman issued this statement:

“EMMY® has been the premier mark of excellence in television for seven decades. Emmy’s Best cites this legacy as its inspiration for copying the famous EMMY trademark. We are actively and generously seeking an agreement that allows the company to continue to grow without infringing this iconic trademark.”

Rizer said he hopes the ordeal doesn’t devolve into a lawsuit.

Comments (5)
  1. Anthony Lee says:

    Totally absurd that NATAS is essentially claiming ownership of the name Emmy. As if there haven’t been thousands of people named Emmy, and surely plenty before NATAS existed. In fact, NATAS was founded in 1955, yet there are plenty of notable individuals named Emmy before then.
    Emmy Andriesse
    Emmy Kruger
    Emmy Loose
    Emmy Noether
    Emmy Owen
    Just to name a few. If NATAS wins this, then no one who happens to have a name a mega corporation doesn’t own can start a business and name it for themself.

  2. Andrei Mincov says:

    And here is the lesson: never, never, never ever cite someone else’s brand as what inspired you to come up with a similar brand. Without it, the entertainment company would have no case whatsoever. That’s why they are pushing the narrative that Emmy’s Best cites their legacy as its inspiration for copying the famous EMMY trademark. When goods and services offered by two entities are radically different, the plaintiff must show a connection between the two. A public statement that shows that connection is a godsend for the plaintiff’s lawyers.

    Andrei Mincov

    Founder of Trademark Factory® / https://trademarkfactory.com
    The easiest way to trademark your brand.
    Risk-Free. Guaranteed.

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