Veteran daredevil Evel Knievel is suing rapper Kanye West for trademark infringement over a music video that depicts the Grammy-winning star as "Evel Kanyevel."
The lawsuit, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, says Knievel's image was tarnished by the "vulgar, sexual and racially charged nature" of West's video for his hit single "Touch the Sky," which co-stars actress Pamela Anderson.
"He's just a disgrace to me," Knievel, 68, a resident of Clearwater, Florida, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "What a cheap shot. What a cheap, two-bit shot."
The lawsuit claims West, his Roc-A-Fella Records label and the video's director infringed on Knievel's trademark-protected name and likeness by depicting West as a stunt performer named "Evel Kanyevel," who dresses in a star-spangled, "V"-striped white jumpsuit like the one Knievel is famous for wearing.
In the video, West cavorts with Anderson, argues with two black women angry at him for dating a white woman and blasts off in a rocket-powered vehicle resembling the Skycycle that Knievel rode in his famous -- and failed -- jump over the Snake River Canyon in 1974.
According to the lawsuit, the 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."
The suit says Knievel first registered his name as a trademark in 2001 and that sales of toys and other merchandise bearing his name and likeness have grossed over $300 million.
Knievel's lawyer, Richard Fee, dismissed suggestions that the 5 1/2-minute video could be defended on grounds that it constitutes parody, which is generally exempt from trademark and copyright claims.
"A parody is something that's characterized by comedic content and that video is not a comedy," Fee told Reuters. "It's a music video used to sell Mr. West's musical works."
He added, "You're dealing with people who are very familiar with intellectual property rights, who make their living off intellectual property rights but have chosen to ignore somebody else's."
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