tampabay.com

Knievel, rapper eye mediation

The motorcycle daredevil contends a video infringes upon his trademark, likeness.

By REBECCA CATALANELLO
Published July 11, 2007


TAMPA - Evel Knievel and Kanye West think they can work things out.

Attorneys for the famed motorcycle daredevil and the popular rapper filed papers in federal court Tuesday stating they plan to enter mediation to iron out their differences over West's Touch the Sky video.

In the video, West acts as a daredevil named "Evel Kanyevel," wearing a star-spangled jumpsuit as he attempts to jump a canyon on a jet-powered rocket.

Knievel, whose full name is Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tampa late last year, accusing West of trademark infringement and unauthorized use of Knievel's image.

Richard Fee, an attorney for Knievel, said the video mimicked Knievel's famous attempt to jump Idaho's Snake River Canyon in 1974.

But of particular concern to Knievel, who lives in Clearwater, was what his attorney described as the video's vulgar, sexual and racially charged content, which he felt tarnished the 68-year-old's image.

In response, West's attorneys argued the video amounted to satire, covered under the First Amendment.

Now, the two sides - and other parties that Knievel's lawsuit named, including Roc-A-Fella Records and music video director Chris Milk - said they plan to meet with Tampa mediator Peter Grilli to try to reach a settlement in the case. West and Knievel will share mediation expenses.

West became a household name following the 2004 release of the album The College Dropout, which won Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for Jesus Walks a year later at the Grammy Awards.

Knievel likewise became known worldwide beginning in the late 1960s for his daredevil motorcycle jumps. He registered his name as a trademark in 2001 and, according to his lawsuit, sales of products bearing his name have grossed more than $300-million.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.