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Evel Knievel’s son is suing Disney for ‘Toy Story 4’ character

ByReiss Bowler

Sep 24, 2020

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Evel Knievel’s son is on a collision course with the Walt Disney Co. and Pixar about a daredevil figure from the movie called Duke Caboom.

A federal trademark infringement lawsuit filed in Las Vegas accuses the movie company of falsely basing the new character in last year’s Toy Story 4 on Knievel, whose famous stunts include motorcycle jumps over Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace fountain and a row of buses at Wembley Stadium in London, and a missile shot into Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

Las Vegas-based K and K Promotions accuses Disney-owned Pixar of deliberately modeling the Caboom character, voiced by Keanau Reeves in the movie, after Knievel – although Knievel’s name is never mentioned.

Son Kelly Knievel, head of K and K, has held publicity rights for Evel Knievel’s name since 1998, according to Tuesday’s indictment in the US District Court. He said on Thursday that the filmmakers have 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 will vigorously defend itself against what it called Knievel’s creditable claims.

Knievel is seeking unspecified damages totaling more than $ 300,000 on charges that also include false approval and unjust enrichment.

The Caboom character is described by Disney Pixar as a ’70s biker toy, based on’ Canada’s greatest stuntman, ‘according to the lawsuit.

Photos in the lawsuit put Caboom side by side with Knievel, who became an American icon after his near-fatal 1967 Caesars Palace crash.

An Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy released in 1973 featured a Knievel action figure dressed in a white helmet and a jumpsuit with red, white and blue decorations on a motorcycle that could be powered with a wind-up mechanism.

In vivid descriptions of the film, the lawsuit notes that the Caboom character is a 1970s daredevil dressed in a white jumpsuit and helmet with Canadian insignia and a ‘Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle’.

A propelled toy was marketed in conjunction with the film, Knievel’s lawyers note, and the Caboom character became part of a McDonald’s fast food “Happy Meal” promotion.

Consumers and film critics “were universally aware of the connection,” the lawsuit noted, while the film company and Reeves avoided any public association, connection, or comparison “even when asked directly.”

“Evel Knievel did not thrill millions of people around the world, broke his bones and shed his blood to make Disney a lot of money,” Kelly Knievel said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

Knievel was seriously injured many times in more than 75 motorcycle jumps. He died of lung disease in Florida in 2007 at the age of 69, not in a crash.

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