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Late Comedian's Family Sues Over Trek's 'Farley' Fat Tires

Complaint says Trek Bicycles is capitalizing on late actor's 'fat guy' brand
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2018 7:06 AM CDT
In this Sept. 18, 1990, file photo, comedian Chris Farley, a cast member of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," appears in New York.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – The family of late comedian and film star Chris Farley has filed a federal lawsuit against Trek Bicycle for naming its fat-tired bikes "Farley," saying the Wisconsin-based bike company misappropriated Farley's name and traded on his "fat guy" brand of comedy, the AP reports. Farley, who starred on Saturday Night Live and in hit films including Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, weighed about 400 pounds, per the lawsuit, and "spent his entire career building, then capitalizing on, his unique brand of 'fat guy' humor and acting style." The suit says Farley "carefully guarded and policed his brand," rejecting overtures from firms he felt didn't warrant it, and even feared losing weight would jeopardize his brand as a comedian. The complaint alleges Trek chose the name Farley "to immediately associate defendant Trek's fat bikes with one of their favorite 'fat' and 'loud' comedians."

Chris Farley was born and raised in Madison, Wis., about 30 miles from Trek's home base in Waterloo. He graduated from Milwaukee's Marquette University. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday the suit originated in California last year, but a judge on Friday ordered it be heard instead in federal court in Madison because it's closer to all involved parties. Trek has responded that much of the case rests on whether Farley was a resident of California when he died, making his name and image subject to a state law that governs deceased celebrities' right of publicity. Trek's lawyers argue Farley was an Illinois resident when he died in 1997 in Chicago from a drug overdose. Make Him Smile, a company founded and run by Farley's family to protect his publicity and property rights, said damages could exceed $10 million. Trek said any damages sought were purely speculative.

(Read more Chris Farley stories.)

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