The heirs of legendary actor John “The Duke” Wayne is suing Duke University over the use of the word “Duke” in a trademark for alcoholic beverages. John Wayne was called ‘Duke’ as a boy. because it was the name of his family’s dog. The nickname stuck throughout his career.
“I never trust a man that doesn’t drink,” John Wayne once said. But what about a university?
John Wayne Enterprises, run by the Wayne Estate, filed for a trademark application last year to use the word on alcoholic drink labels, except for beer.
North Carolina Duke University filed an objection. The school argued there could be a “false suggestion of a connection” between the labels and the school.
The Wayne heirs said there is no likelihood of confusion. Furthermore, they claimed the university “does not own the word ‘Duke’ in all contexts for all purposes”.
Duke University replied: “While we admire and respect John Wayne’s contributions to American culture, we are also committed to protecting the integrity of Duke University’s trademarks. As Mr. Wayne himself said, ‘Words are what men live by, words they say and mean”.
Both ‘Dukes’ crossed paths before. The Wayne family objected five other trademarks from the university since 2005.