M-Net officially turns 30 years old today – celebrating three decades of bringing viewers across the African continent premium TV content

Reeva Steenkamp's best friend finally breaks her silence with beautiful tribute on Instagram

John Wayne heirs sue university over the name Duke

2014-07-10 12:22

Durham - John Wayne's heirs are taking Duke University to court to assert the family's right to market bottles of bourbon branded with the late movie star's nickname, Duke.

A federal lawsuit filed last week is the latest salvo in a long-running legal duel between the North Carolina university and California-based John Wayne Enterprises over commercial products featuring the name. The late actor used the moniker since childhood, when he adopted the name of the family dog.

Lawyers for the university say allowing the Wayne estate to use the name could cause confusion and "diminish, dilute and tarnish" the value of the name, for which both parties hold trademarks.

Messages seeking comment on Wednesday from John Wayne Enterprises were not returned.

The bourbon is labelled with an image of Wayne holding a rifle with "Duke" emblazoned over it in bold letters. The phrase "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" is included on the back side of the bottle.

"Duke University does not own the word 'Duke' in all contests and purposes," the family's lawyers said in the lawsuit. "Duke is a common word that has been used for centuries in a wide array of commercial and other applications wholly independent of Duke University. Yet by the actions alleged herein, Duke University seems to think it owns the word 'Duke' for all purposes and applications."

Duke University is named for a wealthy family of Durham tobacco barons who in the early 1900s endowed what had been a small rural college affiliated with the Methodist church. It made the first legal move against the Wayne heirs when it opposed their 2005 trademark application to use the name Duke for a restaurant. When the actor's family filed last year to use the name to market alcoholic beverages, the university objected once again.

'I never trust a man who doesn't drink'

The private university declined to disclose how much it brings in each year through licensing merchandise featuring the Duke name and its Blue Devils mascot.

"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," said Michael Schoenfeld, a spokesperson for the university. "As Mr Wayne himself said, 'Words are what men live by . words they say and mean.'"

The United States Patent and Trademark Office lists more than 250 active trademarks that include the word "Duke", including jazz legend Duke Ellington and a brand of mayonnaise.

Originally named Marion Robert Morrison, Wayne died in 1979 and remains one of Hollywood's most recognisable stars, with an official Facebook page that has 2 million likes. He appeared in more than 175 films over a 50-year career, including iconic roles in such Western classics as Stagecoach, The Searchers and True Grit.

The Duke also enjoyed a stiff belt of whiskey.

"I never trust a man who doesn't drink," Wayne is quoted as saying, according to his official website.

Read more on:    lawsuits  |  celebrities

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Recent Gossip

Shailene Woodley will go on trial for criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot in January 2017. Read More »

A jury has acquitted a man of stalking TV star Kendall Jenner and convicted him of trespassing at her secluded Hollywood Hills home Read More »

inside channel 24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.