There’s a bit of drama going on amongst the family members of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., and it’s not over where Thanksgiving dinner will be held—it’s over who has the rights to use the Earnhardt name.
The former NASCAR driver’s widow, Teresa Earnhardt, wants to keep the name from being used by Earnhardt’s son and her stepson, Kerry Earnhardt, and his wife in their home designs and furniture business. According to reports from ESPN, Kerry Earnhardt and his wife promoted the “Earnhardt Collection” in a project alongside Schumacher Homes and plan to start a furniture collection by the same name. The pair offers home designs in 14 different states.
But if Teresa Earnhardt has her way, that won’t happen—at least, under the Earnhardt name. From Bob Pockrass at ESPN:
Teresa Earnhardt, Kerry’s stepmother and Dale’s widow, doesn’t want the couple to use the name Earnhardt Collection and filed an appeal last week in federal court over a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling that denied Teresa’s challenge to the “Earnhardt Collection” trademark applied for by Kerry Earnhardt Inc.
According to ESPN, Teresa Earnhardt did not testify in the case but made a statement in the appeal that using the name “Earnhardt Collection” will likely “deceive or cause confusion among people that the homes and products are endorsed by Dale Earnhardt or by her.”
But Kerry Earnhardt didn’t always have the Earnhardt name. He moved in with his mother and took the last name of Key at age three, per ESPN. He said in a testimony to the Trademark and Trial Appeal Board that his father later helped him get the Earnhardt name back, after the two started a relationship when Kerry Earnhardt was 16 years old.
Since he was born an Earnhardt, Kerry Earnhardt said he “had the right to own that name” in his testimony. From ESPN:
“Rene and I have worked extremely hard to develop the Earnhardt Collection brand and make it uniquely ours,” Kerry Earnhardt said in a statement to ESPN.com “I chose to leave a successful career in racing and could not be happier with what we’ve been able to achieve in the five years we’ve been building our home lifestyle brand inspired by our love of the outdoors.” ...
Kerry said he has no relationship with Teresa. He was fired from Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2011 at around the time he began working with Schumacher Homes, he said in testimony.
The family doesn’t seem very thrilled with the proceedings, including Kelley Earnhardt-Miller— daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr.—who tweeted that she hates how her family has had to deal with “this nonsense” for more than four years. Kerry’s testimony continued, “I don’t think if you had a relationship that any family member would do that.”
Per ESPN, Kelley Earnhardt-Miller said no one has mistaken the Earnhardt Collection brand name of being associated with her brother and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.