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

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Evel Knievel’s son is on a collision course with the Walt Disney Co. and Pixar over a movie daredevil character named Duke Caboom.

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

Las Vegas-based K and K Promotions accuses Disney-owned Pixar of intentionally 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 had publicity rights to Evel Knievel’s name since 1998, according to the Tuesday court filing in U.S. District Court. He said Thursday the moviemakers never sought permission to use his father’s likeness.

The Walt Disney Co. , in a statement from corporate spokesman Jeffrey R. Epstein, said it will defend itself vigorously against what it called Knievel’s meritless claims.

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

21 PHOTOS'Toy Story 4': Actors who voice charactersSee Gallery'Toy Story 4': Actors who voice characters

Producer Mark Nielsen, Kristen Schaal, Director Josh Cooley, Tony Hale, Producer Jonas Rivera, Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Tim Allen, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Keegan-Michael Key, Bonnie Hunt, Blake Clark and Carl Weathers attend the world premiere of Disney and Pixar’s TOY STORY 4 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Tom Hanks voices Sheriff Woody 

(Photo by Jordi Vidal/Getty Images)

Tim Allen voices Buzz Lightyear

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Annie Potts voices Bo Peep

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Tony Hale voices Forky

(Photo by GP Images/Getty Images for Disney Studios)

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele voice carnival toys Ducky and Bunny 

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Christina Hendricks voices vintage doll Gabby Gabby

(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Keanu Reeves voices ’70s-inspired action figure from Canada, Duke Caboom

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Ally Maki voices mini police officer Giggle McDimples

(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Joan Cusack voices cowgirl Jessie

(Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Bonnie Hunt voices purple-haired rag doll Dolly

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Kristen Schaal voices blue plastic triceratops Trixie

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Wallace Shawn voices dinosaur Rex

(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

John Ratzenberger voices plastic pig Hamm

(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Blake Clark voices Slinky Dog

(Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)


Estelle Harris voices Mrs. Potato Head

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)

Don Rickles voices Mr. Potato Head using old audio

(Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Mel Brooks voices Melephant Brooks

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM)

Carol Burnett voices Chairol Burnett

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Carl Reiner voices Carl Reineroceros 

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Betty White voices Bitey White

(Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

See Gallery

The Caboom character is described by Disney Pixar as a 1970s motorcycle-riding toy based on “Canada’s greatest stuntman,” according to the lawsuit.

Photos in the court filing 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 clad in a white helmet and jumpsuit with red, white and blue embellishments on a motorcycle that could be propelled with a wind-up device.

In vivid descriptions of the movie, the lawsuit notes the Caboom character is a 1970s-era daredevil clad in a white jumpsuit and helmet with Canadian insignia and a “Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle.”

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

Consumers and film reviewers “universally caught on to the connection,” the lawsuit observed, while the movie company and Reeves avoided making any public association, connection or comparison “even if directly asked.”

“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 announcing the lawsuit.

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

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