Evel Knievel once said that he “would always rather be in the arena fighting than be a spectator.” The legendary stunt rider’s son is clearly taking those words to heart with a new lawsuit against Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar over the Duke Caboom character introduced in last year’s Toy Story 4.
“Defendants have used in commerce, and continue to use in commerce, the likeness, reputation, and image of Evel Knievel in the film Toy Story 4 through Defendants’ depiction of Duke Caboom, and has exploited the same connection through marketing, promotion, advertising, and sales of Toy Story 4, and in connection with the manufacturing, distribution, marketing, advertising, promotion, and sales of the Duke Caboom action figure, all without the consent or approval of K&K,” claims the trademark-infringement complaint filed this week in federal court in Las Vegas, the site of many of Evel’s most death-defying exploits.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful appropriation of Evel Knievel’s rights of publicity, K&K has suffered, and will continue to suffer, monetary damages to its business, reputation, and goodwill,” the jury trial-seeking action from the self-described Last Gladiator’s son and K and K Promotions boss Kelly Knievel goes on to say of the Keanu Reeves-voiced character in the movie (read the suit here.)
Full of photos of Best Animated Feature Oscar winner Toy Story 4’s premiere from June 2019 and merchandise and a throwback trunk of Evel toys, the seven-claim suit from Sin City law firm Kemp Jones LLP seeks an array of damages exceeding $75,000. The younger Knievel also wants the standard “other and further relief as this Court many deem just and proper.”
An icon of the 1970s, Evel Knievel passed away at age 69 in 2007, which was around three years before Toy Story 3 came out.
Even though at first glance Toy Story 4’s Caboom does seem undeniably very Knievel in many ways, Disney seeks to have the lawsuit crash faster than Evel’s not-so-successful 1975 jump at London’s Wembley Stadium over 13 buses. “The claims are without merit and we intend to defend against them vigorously in court,” a spokesperson for the Pixar owner said today.
Seeing Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack and gang return to play their iconic animated roles in the hugely successful franchise, the Josh Cooley-directed Toy Story 4 introduced Reeves to the mix as the voice of the old school Canadian daredevil who doesn’t quite live up to his own hype. Released on June 21, 2019, the picture earned just over $1 billion at the global box office.
Or, as the man who was born Robert Knievel also used to say: “I created Evel Knievel and then he sort of got away from me.”