Trek and the family of late comedian Chris Farley recently settled a lawsuit over Farley’s brand and image and Trek’s fat bike line for an undisclosed amount.
Last year in September, the Make Him Smile foundation, which is said to be run by the comedian’s brother, Kevin Farley, filed a suit alleging that Trek appropriated the Farley name and image in naming the fat bike. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff (Make Him Smile), “believes its damages for the alleged causes of action herein exceed $10 million.”
Farley was born in Madison, Wisconsin, 25 miles away from Trek’s headquarters in Waterloo. He joined Saturday Night Live in 1990 and played the lead character in movies like Black Sheep and Beverly Hills Ninja. His weight had always been a selling point for his comedy.
“When he died in December 18, 1997, he was five feet nine inches tall, and weighed approximately 400 pounds. Farley spent his entire career building, then capitalizing on his unique brand of ‘fat guy’ humor and acting style,” says the lawsuit.
The suit also says, “Farley’s name, identity and persona and all of the other Farley intellectual property, are recognized instantly by the general public throughout the world and have substantial commercial value due to Farley’s carefully crafting his identity as a comedian when he was alive.”
The lawsuit alleges that John Burke, Trek’s CEO, knew and socialized with the Farley family “over many decades.”
“Trek has never used Chris Farley’s likeness, image or endorsement in connection to its Farley line of bikes,” Trek spokesman Eric Bjorling told Bicycle Retailer last year.
The lawsuit was first filed in California, but was moved to Wisconsin this month, according to the New York Times. It’s unclear whether the move influenced the settlement. According to Outside magazine, Trek will continue to use the Farley name as part of the settlement.