'American Chopper' Fuels Bizarre Patent Lawsuit

The focus of the dispute is a patented wheelchair trike
F. Scott Schafer

Here's a candidate for the most head-scratching lawsuit in the entertainment industry this year.

The plaintiff is a guy named Christ Tavantzis, referred throughout the complaint as "Disabled Inventor."

It's a patent infringement claim over a wheelchair trike, an invention that was allegedly introduced in 2008 to Paul Teutul, Jr. and other stars of the reality series American Chopper.

Other lawsuits in the past (like this one) have flirted with the idea that showing something on-screen can rise to patent infringement, but Tavantzis' rambling lawsuit goes well beyond such an allegation. According to the complaint:

"The co-conspirators knew of the patented wheelchair trike and attempted to conceal its origins by creating a show to attempt to explain and protect itself legally from the inducement of patent infringement and continuing use of the patented idea by representing the trike was being created solely for charitable purposes by a generous, intelligent, non-disabled more capable inventor."

Yes, in a lawsuit lodged against 31 defendants, Tavantzis apparently is claiming that American Choppers was created to cover-up patent infringement, and that the stealing of his invention fueled the drive for ratings. The complaint includes a claim for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Amazingly, the plaintiff has found a lawyer, Tonia Troutwine, to file the complaint below.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner