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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Legendary Surfer’s Family Fights Filmmakers

HONOLULU (CN) - The family of the late, legendary surfer Eddie Aikau asked a state judge to stop a company from claiming the right to make a movie about his life.

Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau (1946-1978), a Maui-born big wave surfer, was lost at sea before his 32nd birthday, trying to save fellow crew members with his longboard when a Polynesian voyaging canoe capsized in stormy weather off the Big Island.

He was the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, on Oahu's North Shore, where an exclusive surfing competition, "The Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau" is held in his name. "The Eddie" is invitation-only and held only when waves reach heights of 40 feet or more, measured by Hawaiian standards, which measures the front face of the wave, not the back. The last competition was in 2009.

Aikau's Eddie's surviving siblings Myra, Solomon and Clyde Aikau sued Your Half Pictures and Your Half Entities aka Your Half Media Group, of Glendale, Calif., in Hawaii's First Circuit Court.

The Aikaus claim Your Half is falsely claiming publicity rights to Eddie Aikau's life story, deterring other film companies from making such a movie.

The Aikaus, who say they already held all trade and service marks to the use of Eddie's name, formed Aikau Family LLC in 2010 to reserve publicity rights to his name.

According to the complaint, in 2004 and without advice of counsel, the plaintiffs executed an agreement giving Your Half Pictures an 18-month option "to use plaintiffs Myra, Solomon and Clyde Aikau's 'names, likeness, personal history, etc. as needed, in conjunction with a feature film based upon a book by entitled, 'Eddie Would Go,' by Stuart Holmes Coleman."

The phrase refers to surfers' saying "Eddie Would Go," when enormous waves deter most surfers.

The Aikaus claim that Your Half "failed to discharge its obligations under the letter agreement," by, among other things, "failing to make a significant payment to the Eddie Aikau Foundation ... failing to demonstrate to plaintiffs any type of progress toward film production over the period of 18 month, making material and repeated misrepresentations to plaintiffs, and failing to demonstrate good faith in its communications and conduct toward plaintiffs."

The Aikaus say that in December 2005, they repudiated Your Half's attempt to exercise an option, and informed it by letter that Your Half had breached its obligations.

But the Aikaus say Your Half continue to make "representations to plaintiffs, and to others, that defendants hold rights from plaintiffs to the life story of Eddie Aikau."

The Aikaus seek declaratory and injunctive relief and treble damages for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, unfair and deceptive trade, unfair competition and infringement of publicity rights.

They are represented by Seth Reiss, with Watanabe Ing.

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