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Trek Avoids Disaster, Settles Farley Family Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on June 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Despite the controversy over "fat-guy" comedy, the comedy of Chris Farley is remembered fondly by his fans, friends, and family. But the star's publicity rights may be protected by California law, at least according to the company Farley's family set up to manage his post-mortem licensing and publicity rights.

Unfortunately for in-house lawyers and celebrity legal spectators, whether the late actor's publicity rights are properly protected may never be known as the bicycle maker Trek agreed to settled the lawsuit filed against it by Farley's family stemming from the naming of the Trek "fat-tire" bicycles, Farley fat bikes. Presumably the confidential settlement agreement involves some form of licensing deal to permit the use of Farley's name, as the bike makers plans to continue producing the fat tire bikes under the same name.

Paying Tribute for Better Publicity

While it may seem curious that a bicycle maker would want to associate a bike with a comedian known for epitomizing "fat-guy" comedy, it happened, it worked well for their marketing, then it sparked a lawsuit, and now it will continue to happen. The simple fact is that Chris Farley was rather beloved, and his memory and mention often makes people remember some of their favorite bits from SNL and his films.

For the bike maker, the lawsuit, as unwanted as any lawsuit could be, provided an opportunity for the company to pay tribute and get a little good publicity. While there's no mention of the dollar amounts in any of the reporting, it would seem that resolving the matter short of a long drawn out public dispute over whether the company respected the family of a dead celebrity would command a decent payout.

Simply put, Trek's tactful, quick, and quiet handling of the matter seemingly avoided the potential PR social media backlash that is common these days from an adoring fan base.

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