Evel Knievel’s son is on a collision course with Walt Disney Co. and Pixar over a daredevil movie character named Duke Caboom.
Las Vegas trademark infringement lawsuit accuses the movie company of misstating last year’s “Toy Story 4” new character on Knievel, whose famous stunts included motorcycle jumps over the fountain at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and a row of buses at Wembley Stadium in London and a rocket fired at Snake River Canyon in Idaho.
Las Vegas-based K and K Promotions accuses Disney-owned Pixar of intentionally modeling the character of Caboom, voiced by Keanau Reeves in the film, after Knievel – although Knievel’s name is never mentioned.
His son Kelly Knievel, head of K and K, has had the publicity rights to Evel Knievel’s name since 1998, according to the court filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court. He said Thursday that the filmmakers never asked for permission to use his father’s likeness.
The Walt Disney Co., in a statement by company spokesman Jeffrey R. Epstein, said it would vigorously defend itself against what it called Knievel’s baseless claims.
Knievel is seeking unspecified damages totaling over $ 300,000 on allegations which also include false approval and unjust enrichment.
The character of Caboom is described by Disney Pixar as a 1970s motorcycle toy based on “Canada’s greatest stuntman,” according to the lawsuit.
Photos in the court file put Caboom alongside Knievel, who became an American icon after his near-fatal accident at Caesars Palace in 1967.
An Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy released in 1973 featured a Knievel action figure wearing a white helmet and jumpsuit with red, white and blue ornaments on a motorcycle that could be propelled with a winding device.
In vivid descriptions of the film, the lawsuit notes that Caboom’s character is a 1970s daredevil in a white jumpsuit and helmet with Canadian insignia and a “Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle.”
A powered toy was marketed in conjunction with the film, the Knievel lawyers note, and Caboom’s character became part of a McDonald’s fast-food “Happy Meal” promotion.
Consumers and film critics “universally understood the connection,” the lawsuit observed, while the film company and Reeves avoided making any public association, connection or comparison “even if asked directly.”
“Evel Knievel didn’t rock millions of people around the world, broke their bones, and shed blood just so Disney could make a lot of money,” Kelly Knievel said in a statement. announcing the trial.
Knievel has been seriously injured several times in more than 75 motorcycle jumps. He died in 2007 at age 69 in Florida from lung disease, not in an accident.