06/06/2007 12:00AM

'Ruffian' dispute deferred


The attorney for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. and several of its subsidiaries claiming trademark infringement for a movie about the filly Ruffian said on Wednesday that the two sides have agreed to meet next week out of court.

As a result, according to a statement issued by the attorney, A. Lee Parks, a Thursday hearing in Atlanta that was seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the movie from airing on ABC-TV on Saturday night has been deferred. ABC is a subsidiary of Disney.

A spokeswoman for the movie, which is being produced by ESPN Productions, another Disney subsidiary, would not confirm on Wednesday that the sides had agreed to meet. The spokeswoman, Keri Potts, reiterated a statement made by ESPN on Tuesday, when the lawsuit was filed, that "the claims of the lawsuit are without merit."

"We have nothing further to add at his point," Potts said.

Parks did not return a phone call on Wednesday.

The plaintiffs in the suit are listed as Thoroughbred Legends, a company that owns the trademark to "Ruffian" and seven other racehorse names; Frank Whiteley, who trained the filly; and Jacinto Vasquez, who rode the filly in nine of her 11 races. The statement released on Thursday said that the plaintiffs had agreed to review the movie, offer commentary, and donate any fees resulting from their participation to a horse-racing charity.

The lawsuit alleged that the movie was an inaccurate portrayal of Ruffian's life because the producers did not rely on interviews with Whiteley and Vasquez.