Disney has responded to being sued by the son of Evel Knievel, over claims Keanu Reeves' Toy Story 4 character Duke Caboom was improperly based on the famous stunt performer.
Kelly Knievel – who has held the publicity rights to his father's name since 1998 – filed the lawsuit towards the end of September, claiming the filmmakers never sought permission to use Evel's likeness (via Hollywood Reporter).
However, in a rather blunt response to the lawsuit, a Disney spokesman said in a statement: "The claims are without merit and we intend to defend against them vigorously in court."
Kelly Knievel is suing the company for unspecified damages of more than $300,000 over allegations of unjust enrichment and false endorsement.
The lawsuit claims that audiences and critics "universally caught on to the connection," and that both Disney and Reeves avoided drawing comparisons between Caboom and Knievel, "even if directly asked".
The suit highlights similarities between Caboom and Knievel, noting that the former is also referred to as "Canada's greatest stuntman".
It adds that an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy, wearing a white helmet and jumpsuit with red, white and blue embellishments on a motorcycle with a wind-up device, was released in 1973.
It also adds that Disney released a similar toy in conjunction with Toy Story 4, which was available in McDonald's Happy Meals.
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