Evel Knievel’s son loses Disney Duke Caboom trademark case

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Evel Knievel

FILE – In this Sept. 8, 1974, file photo, Evel Knievel sits in the steam powered rocket motorcycle that will hopefully take him across Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho. A judge has dismissed a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Evel Knievel’s son against the Walt Disney Co. and movie company Pixar over a “Toy Story 4” daredevil character named Duke Caboom. Kelly Knievel said Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, he’s disappointed and may take the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. (AP Photo, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge dismissed a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Evel Knievel’s son a year ago against the Walt Disney Co. and movie company Pixar over a “Toy Story 4” daredevil character named Duke Caboom.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” Kelly Knievel said in a Monday email. “We are considering our options” at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas dismissed the case against Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on Sept. 23.

The judge wrote that while the Caboom character was “reminiscent” of Knievel, “Disney’s use of Evel Knievel’s likeness contains significant transformative elements” and is not a literal depiction.

An email message from The Walt Disney Co. spokesman Jeffrey R. Epstein said he was traveling and unavailable for immediate comment.

Kelly Knievel, head of Las Vegas-based K and K Promotions, had characterized the Caboom character as “a direct knock-off of the legend and historical significance” of Knievel’s father, the famous stunt motorcyclist who died in 2007 at 69 in Florida of lung disease.

The lawsuit filed in September 2020 accused Disney and Pixar of intentionally modeling the “Toy Story 4” character on Knievel, whose stunts included motorcycle jumps in 1967 over the Caesars Palace fountain in Las Vegas — including a spectacular near-fatal crash — and in 1975 over a row of buses at Wembley Stadium in London.

Evel Knievel was seriously injured many times during more than 75 motorcycle jumps. He survived a 1974 rocket-motorcycle shot over Snake River Canyon in Idaho that ended with the machine parachuting to the riverbank below.

The lawsuit noted 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.

The court filing pointed to the film character and his “Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle,” described by Disney Pixar as a 1970s-era daredevil based on “Canada’s greatest stuntman,” clad in a white jumpsuit and helmet with Canadian insignia.

The judge said the film character has a different name and clothing, is Canadian rather than American, and wears a mustache and different hair color and style than Knievel.

“Duke Caboom is not a carbon copy of Evel Knievel minus a few details,” Mahan wrote. “The Duke Caboom action figure is a representation of Disney’s expression in the film and not an attempt to imitate Evel Knievel.”

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