December 14, 2006

On Monday, daredevil Evel Knievel filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, against rapper Kanye West. In addition to West, Knievel also named Roc-a-Fella Records, LLC, Chris Milk, and AOL LLC as co-defendants, and formally alleged trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and unauthorized use of Knievel’s likeness. The subject of the lawsuit is West’s “Touch the Sky” music video, where West acts as “Evel Kanyevel” and attempts to use a rocket-powered motorcycle to jump over a canyon. In the lawsuit, Knievel alleges to be “an internationally famous motorcycle daredevil,” and his “likeness in his public performance attire, the world-famous personalized white jumpsuit…is instantly recognized by millions of people in the United States and world-wide,” and that his jumpsuit “is inherently distinctive” and “enjoys secondary meaning.” Knievel further alleges that West’s video contains "vulgar and offensive sexual images, language and conduct involving `Evel Kanyevel' and women apparently trying to gain his sexual interest,” and that the “vulgar, sexual, and racially-charged nature of the [music video] is directly counter to Evel Knievel’s long-established public persona, utterly inconsistent with his toy products and appeal to children, and harms the reputation of the Evel Knievel® Trademark, and the Evel Knievel Costume.” According to the Yahoo! News article (link below), Knievel refers to West’s music video as “the most worthless piece of crap I've ever seen in my life, and he uses my image to catapult himself on the public.” Knievel has three registered U.S. trademarks for the mark “EVEL KNIEVEL.”

Yahoo! News Article (via AP): LINK
Copy of the Filed Lawsuit: LINK
U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 2450740: LINK
U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 2481649: LINK
U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 2864119: LINK
Evel Knievel’s Website: LINK

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Mark Reichel
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I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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