WASHINGTON: The late Evel Knievel’s son Kelly Knievel on Tuesday sued The Walt Disney Company and Pixar for trademark infringement, alleging the companies used his father’s likeness without permission in 2019’s “Toy Story 4.”
Knievel is never mentioned in the film, but the filing alleges that the character of Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves, is clearly patterned after him. The lawsuit cites reviews of the movie mentioning Knievel as evidence viewers “universally caught on to the connection.”
“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,” Kelly Knievel said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit also pairs pictures of Knievel, who died in 2007, with the character, and notes that the two wear similar outfits. It further cites the existence of an “Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle” toy released in 1973 and a “Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle” in the 2019 film.
Disney spokesman Jeffrey R. Epstein in a statement called the claims meritless and pledged to fight the lawsuit, according to the AP.
Actor Frank Sivero filed a similar lawsuit against Fox Television Studios in 2014, alleging that “The Simpsons” made unauthorized use of his likeness by modeling a character on the animated series after his “Goodfellas” persona. A federal judge dismissed the case in 2015, saying the character was a composite of multiple characters in mafia films.