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Courtroom and beyond: Evel Knievel’s son sues Disney over Toy Story character

The son of motorcycle stunt icon Evel Knievel issues a lawsut against Disney for ripping off his father's image with Toy Story 4 character Duke Caboom

Duke Caboom Toy Story 4

How can you not love Toy Story? Without a doubt one of the most magnificent demonstrations of brilliant storytelling, lightweight crossover humour and remarkable animation that still looks en pointe even today 25 years after the first film premiered (yep, a quarter of a century…)

As a child-turned-adult that was young enough to be dazzled by the first film, appreciate the adult elements of two and three, before taking myself off to the cinema for 4 for old time sake, it’s hard to imagine anyone having a bad word to say against it…

Except there is one person and he is the son of the long departed iconic daredevil Evel Knievel - Kelly Knievel - , who is suing the Disney and Pixar, as well as the numerous merchandising firms involved, for - in short - ripping off his father’s brand.

Now, we didn’t need to be alive in the 70s when Evel Knievel’s outrageous stunts and made him a superstar the world over to recognise the Toy Story 4 character named Duke Caboom - voiced with zest by our favourite motorcycle-loving star Keanu Reeves - has certainly been developed in the image of the long since departed Knievel.

But while Disney may have thought it was doing an arm’s length tribute by essentially ripping on its once must-have (but today quite naff) motorcycle stunt toy every kid wanted for Christmas, for the Knievel estate Duke Caboom is instead taking liberties with the brand instead.

In the suit, K&K Productions Inc. accuses Disney and Pixar modelled Caboom in Knievel’s likeness without its permission, thus infringing upon its intellectual property rights, as well as revealing it had refused producers from making explicit directives to avoid the use of the Knievel name.

As far as Hollywood lawsuits go, the $375,000 in damages seems relatively modest (especially for a company like Disney) but that’s not to say this isn’t an argument that will rumble on, with a  representative for Mickey Mouse and co. saying “the claims are without merit and we intend to defend against them vigorously in court…”

We might give Toy Story 4 a whirl this afternoon just to check...