Trek Bicycle and a company that represents the interests of late comic actor Chris Farley told a federal judge in Madison Wednesday that they have settled a lawsuit brought by Farley’s family over the use of the Farley name by Trek for its fat-tire bikes.
The settlement, reported to U.S. District Judge James Peterson in a letter filed Wednesday by a lawyer for Trek, states that Make Him Smile Inc., founded and run by Farley’s family to protect Chris Farley’s publicity and property rights, and Waterloo-based Trek have signed settlement documents and expect to formally dismiss the case within the next week.
The settlement was announced just days after the case was transferred from a federal court in Los Angeles to the federal court in Madison, after Trek had successfully argued that most of the parties, witnesses and evidence in the case were located closer to Madison than to Los Angeles, where the case was originally filed in September.
Eric Bjorling, brand manager for Trek, said that terms of the settlement are confidential, but said that Trek will continue to manufacture Farley bikes.
Make Him Smile’s lawsuit alleged that the use of the Farley name by Trek for its fat-tired bicycles misappropriated Chris Farley’s “fat guy” image and style of comedy. The lawsuit also drew attention to the Madison-area nexus of both Farley and Trek as perhaps having influenced Trek to select the Farley name for its fat-tire bikes.
Farley, who starred on “Saturday Night Live” and in several hit films, died in 1997 in Chicago at age 33. The lawsuit had argued that as a resident of California, Farley’s name and image were protected by a California law written to protect the interests of deceased celebrities.
But Trek said it could prove that at the time of Farley’s death he was a resident of Illinois and not subject to the California law.