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The brand that owns the late daredevil Evel Knievel's intellectual property rights (K&K Promotions, Inc.) has filed a lawsuit against Disney, Pixar, and other Disney-related entities over Toy Story 4's Duke Caboom.
K&K's contention, which you may have guessed if you've seen the 2019 film, is that Caboom is a blatant IP theft of the legendary stuntman. They say Disney received no permission to base a character on Knievel. TMZ adds that K&K owns the rights to Evel's brand, likeness, and persona.
Documents obtained by TMZ say that in addition to copying Evel's style and influence, the animated sequel ripped off a stunt cycle toy that came out in 1973. Like a lot of toys that you probably played with and later stepped on, that old timey action figure came with an "energizer" that allowed you to wind it so it could then "drive" on its own. The complaint filed against Disney accuses it of unlawfully copying the old (and since re-released) Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle.
Here's a vintage ad showing that cycle in action:
And here's Duke Caboom:
In addition to everything you've already read, K&K alleges that Disney instructed the cast of Toy Story 4 (in addition to others who worked on the movie) to strain to avoid using names that could be trademarked. As an example, they cite Tony Hale (who voiced Forky) as dancing around answering questions in an interview when asked why his character was named Forky when he more closely resembled a Spork.
K&K is also upset about merchandise Disney hocked for the film, which included Duke Caboom toys.
The suit is looking to get actual, compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, and also wants profits from the movie that would be exacted at trial.
Kelly Knievel, Evel's son who also doubles as a spokesperson for K&K Promotions, was quoted on the matter.
“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 said. "He remains an instantly-recognized icon, as demonstrated by the huge popularity of the re-issued Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle among kids who hadn’t even been born when my father died a dozen years ago.”