CHICAGO — Johannes “Ted” Martin may be one of the best when it comes to playing Hacky Sack, but for a second time the Guinness World Record holder has lost in court. Martin, who represented himself, filed multiple claims against fast-food giant Wendy’s and Guinness World Records Limited, but his amended suit was dismissed by a federal judge on April 28.

U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso issued the order which brought Martin's case to an uneventful end.

Martin set the world record for consecutive kicks of a footbag, commonly known as the brand name Hacky Sack, in June 1997. His feat included kicking the footbag into the air 63,326 consecutive times without letting it hitting the ground.

Martin’s complaint stems from a joint promotion by Wendy’s and Guinness in August and September 2013. During that time, Wendy’s advertised “record-breaking toys,” which were included in kids meals. There were a total of six toys, one of which was a footbag with the words “Guinness World Records” written on it and its packaging.

Included in the packaging of the footbag was an instruction card which read, “How many times in a row can you kick this footbag without it hitting the ground? Back in 1997, Ted Martin made his world record of 63,326 kicks in a little less than nine hours!”

It was that statement of fact that Martin alleged violated his rights under the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, as well as his rights under the federal Lanham Act. Following his filing, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, because Martin had failed to state a claim. The court gave Martin three weeks to amend his complaint and refile, which he did.

Unfortunately for Martin, who represented himself in court, his amended filing still failed to state an actual damages claim. Furthermore, the court found that the use of Martin’s name and record fell under protected use by the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, as it was “use of an individual’s name in truthfully identifying the person as the author of a particular work or program or the performer in a particular performance.”

Because Wendy’s never explicitly claimed that Martin endorsed their product or was a part of the promotion, their use of his name didn’t amount to profiting off his image unfairly, the judge said.. Martin, who claimed anecdotally that people thought he was participating in the promotion, didn’t offer enough evidence to the court, the judge said.

The case was dismissed with prejudice. 

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
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