Following legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr.‘s tragic passing, family friction remains a constant for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his siblings. Much of which has centered around the relationship with their stepmother Teresa Earnhardt. These internal issues led to an ugly legal problem with her eldest stepson.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s long history of internal family friction
Following his father’s passing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Inc. (DEI).
His tenure with the company came to an end after the 2007 season due to internal problems with his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt. Dale Jr. attempted to gain controlling ownership of the company (51%) due to his feeling that DEI was declining over the previous few years.
Teresa denied her stepson that opportunity with the organization. She even publicly questioned his commitment toward turning DEI into a company that competes for championships. It didn’t take long after that to lead to his departure and decision to join Hendrick Motorsports.
The rocky situation would turn out not to be the last intense internal issue for the Earnhardt family.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s stepmother got into an ugly spat with his brother over a legal matter with their father’s name
Years following Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s highly-publicized departure from DEI, his stepmother became entangled in another familial friction-filled matter.
Kerry Earnhardt, Dale Jr.’s older brother, elected to venture the route of creating the “Earnhardt Collection in 2011 for their Schumaker Homes, which his wife Rene helped with the design.
The conflict arose in May 2012 over the trademark that lingered for four years until February 2016. Teresa filed a lawsuit against Kerry to prevent him from using his father’s name for his company. (H/T Sporting News)
“The naming of any project called ‘Earnhardt Collection’ causes confusion as being associated with Dale Earnhardt, as the Dale Earnhardt brands and marks are so diverse across multiple industries and philanthropic causes.”
Teresa has owned the trademark to “Dale Earnhardt” since his tragic passing at the 2001 Daytona 500. The court initially rejected her arguments centered on the belief people would think the homes were endorsed by her, along with it being an attempt to trademark the surname.
However, Teresa did manage to work her way toward a legal victory over her eldest stepson.
Teresa earns legal win in court over her stepson
The case proceeded through the court system over the next year as Teresa Earnhardt attempted to prove Kerry Earnhardt overstepped the trademark.
She did receive a legal win over her stepson after he could not provide more clarity on the decision to use the Earnhart name. Court Judge Raymond Chen ruled that the trademark board didn’t “adequately” explain whether collection refers to Kerry Earnhardt Inc.’s services. (H/T ESPN)
“Because … the [trademark board] did not adequately explain whether ‘collection’ was merely descriptive of KEI’s goods and services, its analysis of the mark as a whole was likewise deficient,” Chen wrote in the decision.
The matter was sent back to the office due to the lack of clarity on why it granted Kerry’s trademark. The entire case is left in a messy situation for the eldest Earnhardt son to navigate through.
According to Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, the legal battle persisted through 2019 as Teresa continued to challenge Kerry’s attempt to register a trademark for Earnhardt Collection. Although the trademark board ruled that nobody would confuse the company with Dale Earnhardt, the result remains the same as no one can trademark Earnhardt Collection.