Las Vegas Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Disney And “Duke Caboom” Character

A Las Vegas Judge has dismissed a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against the Walt Disney Company by the son of stuntman Evel Knievel that claims Toy Story 4’s Duke Caboom was a “direct knock-off” of his father, according to ABC News.

What’s Happening:

  • Last year, Kelly Knievel, head of K and K Promotions and son of famous stuntman Evel Knievel, filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company claiming that the character of Duke Caboom in Pixar’s Toy Story 4 was modeled after his Father.
  • The lawsuit specifically noted an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy released in 1973 that 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.
  • On September 23rd, U.S. District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas (where the lawsuit was filed) dismissed the case, noting 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.
  • The judge pointed out that 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.
  • The court filing also pointed to the film character and his “Duke Caboom Stunt Cycle,” described by Pixar Animation Studios as a “1970s-era daredevil based on “Canada’s greatest stuntman,” clad in a white jumpsuit and helmet with Canadian insignia.”
  • Kelly Knievel has reportedly expressed disappointment in the dismissal and is now “considering our options” at  the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

What They’re Saying:

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