HOUSTON -- Gilley's, the country-western nightclub featured in the filming of 'Urban Cowboy,' has asked a federal court to halt the distribution of mechnical bulls by three Houston firms.
The suit, filed by Gilley's Enterprises Inc., contended the firms were violating a patent held by the owner of the famed C&W club on a mechanical bull.
A request for a court order to halt distribution of the mechanical bull by Buck 'N Broncos Inc., Southwest Rodeo Enterprises Inc. and Texas Rodeo Bulls Inc. was scheduled for Nov. 12.
The mechanic device, powered by an engine, bucks and spins in a manner similar to a live bull. The machine is operated by a control box and can buck up to 80 times and make 35 revolutions per minute.
Gilley's Enterprises charged in the suit the three companies were manufacturing and distributing the bulls in violation of federal patent laws.
The three companies contend Gilley's has no right to the patent and is trying to monopolize the mechanical bull market in violation of federal anti-trust laws.
Joe D. Turner, 58, of Corrales, N.M., obtained the first patent on the bull in 1975. Turner said he sold the bulls mainly on the rodeo circuit, where they were used as a training device.
Gilley's, touted as the world's largest nightclub, bought a bull in 1977 and offered patrons a spin at $2 a ride, Turner said. He sold the patent rights to Gilley's last year.
'The mechanical bull market will be short-lived because it is in the nature of a fad or craze,' lawyers for Gilley's claimed in seeking an immediate court order blocking the competition. The lawsuit was filed two months ago.
Russell Weaver, lawyer for the defendants, said their primary defense was the bulls were around before Turner obtained his patent. He planned to display a pre-Turner mechanical bull at the hearing.
The popularity of the bulls -- generated in part by 'Urban Cowboy' -- led to a rapid sales growth. Gilley's officials said they had made $1 million in less than two years from the sale of 400 bulls.