Evel Knievel's son sues Disney for allegedly using father's likeness for 'Toy Story 4' character
Evel Knievel’s son is suing Disney for $300,000 (£235,000) worth of damages, claiming trademark infringement over an animated character from the film Toy Story 4.
Kelly Knievel has held the publicity rights to his father's name since 1978 through the company K and K Promotions, according to his US District Court filing in Las Vegas.
The federal trademark infringement lawsuit alleges that Pixar, owned by Disney and the producers of Toy Story 4, did not seek his permission when they created the character of Duke Caboom.
Mr Knievel is seeking significant damages, alleging false endorsement and unjust enrichment on behalf of Disney.
"Evel Knievel did not thrill millions around the world, break his bones and spill his blood just so Disney could make a bunch of money," the 60 year-old said.
Evel Knievel, born Robert Craig Knievel Jnr in Montana in 1938, was world famous for his daredevil stunts. He was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps, but ultimately died from pulmonary disease in 2007, aged 69.
His most famous stunts include jumping over the Caesars Palace fountain in Las Vegas and 13 buses at Wembley Stadium, as well as using a rocket-powered bike to cross Snake River Canyon in Idaho.
An Evel Knievel toy was released in 1973, dressed in a white jumpsuit and helmet. Mr Knievel was seated on a motorbike and the toy could be powered using a wind-up mechanism. A similar toy was released by Disney of Duke Caboom following the release of Toy Story 4.
According to the lawsuit, Duke Caboom was a 1970s toy who rides a motorbike and is "Canada's greatest stuntman". His character was voiced by Keanu Reeves in the 2019 film.
A Duke Caboom toy was also released by Disney through the McDonalds happy meal.
The filing goes on to claim that the audience "universally caught on to the connection", despite both Mr Reeves and Disney’s insistence there is no relation. The complaint alleges Disney "expressly instructed cast members to avoid drawing any public association between Duke Caboom and Evel Knievel".
Disney denies the allegation, with a spokesperson telling AP that the company would defend itself “vigorously” against “meritless claims”.