Here’s a whopper of a lawsuit.
The owner of deceased comedian Chris Farley’s intellectual property has filed suit against a bicycle company over a “fat bike” line that’s branded as Farley.
In the suit, filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, Make Him Smile Inc. says that the Trek Bicycle Corporation’s Farley line unfairly encourages consumers to associate the bikes with the “Saturday Night Live” alum.
“The name ‘Farley’ is now, and has been for nearly three decades, linked and associated with his Farley’s persona and his identity as a fat comic actor willing to go into comic territories others would not seek to traverse,” the lawsuit reds.
According to the suit, Trek’s “Fat Bikes” have “design and component attributes that make them more agile and adept at traversing unpaved terrains,” such as “a wider than average chassis and extraordinarily ‘fat’ tires.”
The similarities between the deceased comic and the bike line also include the fact that Trek is based in Wisconsin, and Farley was a native of Madison, Wisconsin.
According to the suit, executives at Trek “sought a clever, memorable and loud advertising and branding ‘hook’ to help and launch promote sales of each of its various Fat Bike products, and they chose the brand name ‘Farley’ to welcome and encourage potential customers and the bike industry generally to immediately associate Defendant Trek’s Fat Bikes with one of their favorite ‘fat’ and ‘loud’ comedians,” the suit reads. “Bicycle consumer [sic] and the industry as a whole immediately associated its Madison, Wisconsin built fat, loud, sturdy, rugged and outlandish Midwestern Fat Bikes, with Farley’s world-famous image as a fat, loud, sturdy, rugged Midwesterner who is arguably the most famous person to have been born in Madison, Wisconsin.”
In a statement to TheWrap, a spokesperson for Trek said that the company had been in conversaations with Farley’s family to resolve the issue amicably, and “remains willing to try to resolve any concerns” about the line.
“We were really surprised by this lawsuit. Trek has never used Chris Farley’s likeness, image, or endorsement in connection to its Farley line of bikes. In fact, Trek owns a registered trademark for Farley for bicycles registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Trek said. “Frankly, we were surprised to receive notice of the lawsuit because we had been in conversations with the Farley family to try to resolve their concerns amicably. Trek remains willing to try to resolve any concerns with the Farley family’s representatives in an amenable manner. If necessary, however, we will vigorously defend ourselves against this groundless lawsuit.”
Farley died in 1997. At the time of his death, the lawsuit says, the “Tommy Boy” actor was five feet, nine inches tall “and weighed approximately 400 pounds.”
The suit seeks unspecified damages, but states that Make Him Smile “believes its damages for the alleged causes of action herein exceeds $10 million.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.