Courts rule, again, that Duke Caboom is not Evel Knievel

Disney's Toy Story 4 included a tribute to Evel Knievel and many other stunt-men of the time. Disney ensured that while the character honors Knievel, it is not him, and significant differences were written. Duke Caboom is from Canada. The folks managing the rights to Knievel's likeness, however, have spent a lot of time in court saying otherwise, to no avail.

Keanu Reeves's portrayal of the character may have been the most significant reason to see Toy Story 4.


I guess I shouldn't be shocked, but the trademark and publicity rights dispute between Disney and K&K Promotions, the company that manages the rights for the late stuntman Evel Knievel, was still ongoing until recently. If you're not aware of what I'm talking about, the movie Toy Story 4 included a character named Duke Caboom, a toy motorcycle stuntman that certainly had some characteristics that were an homage to Knievel. Not just Knievel, though, and that's the important bit. Instead, the character had its own backstory, name, and imagery, all of which borrowed from several stuntmen from that era.

But K&K decided that it was all Knievel and sued over trademark and publicity rights. That case ended with a dismissal, correctly assessing that the movie was a creative work, therefore applying the Rogers test, in which deference is given to the creative work protected by the First Amendment. Since the court assessed that the character was a compilation of period references to stuntmen, again with his own backstory, name, and likeness, there was no trademark or publicity rights concern.

But K&K apparently appealed the decision for reasons that are entirely beyond me. The U.S. Appeals Court has now affirmed that ruling, finding for Disney yet again.

Image: screen grab