The corporation representing the property rights of the late comedian Chris Farley has sued Trek Bicycle Corp. for allegedly using the name “Farley” on its line of “fat bikes” without getting permission.
West Hollywood-based Make Him Smile Inc. filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, alleging misappropriation, false endorsement and unfair business practices. The suit seeks more than $10 million and an injunction enjoining Trek from further use of the Farley name on its products.
A representative for the Wisconsin-based Trek Corp. could not be immediately reached for comment.
Trek’s “fat bikes” have wider chassis and tires, according to the lawsuit, which notes that Farley — who weighed about 400 pounds — had a unique “fat guy” humor and acting style.
Trek CEO John Burke lives in the Wisconsin village of Maple Bluff, the same community where Farley was born and raised, according to the suit, which says he and other Trek executives are believed to have chosen the brand name “Farley” as a clever way to help launch the “fat bike” products but allegedly failed to seek permission from the plaintiff.
Make Him Smile Inc. is a registered corporation with the Secretary of State and holds the rights to license third parties to use Farley’s name and likeness, the suit states.
Sales have been strong for Trek from day one and the Farley branded products are the most recognized and profitable brand of “fat bikes” in the world, according to the complaint. But Trek recalled about 2,600 Farley bicycles in 2013 because the fork would separate from the steer tube, which damaged the Farley property rights name, according to the lawsuit.
Farley, who died in 1997 at the age of 33, appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and in such films as “Black Sheep” and “Beverly Hills Ninja.”
–City News Service