News

John Wayne’s heirs sue university to use ‘Duke’ name

John Wayne’s heirs sue university to use ‘Duke’ name

THE DUKE: John Wayne Enterprises said it fears being sued by the private university in Durham, North Carolina, for trademark infringement unless a U.S. court intervenes. The school has challenged the heirs' plans to use the name in connection with restaurant services and alcoholic beverages. Photo: Associated Press

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) – Heirs of film star John Wayne have sued Duke University over their right to use the late Academy Award winner’s nickname, “Duke,” to market a line of bourbon, describing the school’s protests over such branding efforts as “ludicrous.”

John Wayne Enterprises said it fears being sued by the private university in Durham, North Carolina, for trademark infringement unless a U.S. court intervenes. The school has challenged the heirs’ plans to use the name in connection with restaurant services and alcoholic beverages.

“Duke University seems to think it owns the word ‘Duke’ for all purposes and applications,” Wayne’s heirs said in a federal complaint filed on July 3 in the Central District of California.

The Wayne family business said it was “ludicrous” for the school to argue that inclusion of the nickname on commercial products would cause confusion, dilute the university’s brand or falsely suggest a connection between the school and the goods.

An exhibit attached to the suit shows a bottle of bourbon with the “Duke” name featured prominently on the label along with Wayne’s image and signature.

Duke University spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said on Wednesday the school would continue its fight to protect its trademarks.

“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,” Schoenfeld said. “As Mr. Wayne himself said, ‘Words are what men live by … words they say and mean.’”

Wayne was an American movie legend best known for his roles in Westerns. He starred in the 1956 classic “The Searchers” and won an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film “True Grit.”

He died in 1979 at age 72.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Eric Beech)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

‘The Best Man’ set for ‘threequel’

Fresh
bestman

The new film appears to pick up from news Howard's character drops at the end of the "The Best Man Holiday," which was released last November.

in Entertainment

Will Ferrell bringing ‘Manimal’ to big screen

willferrell

The "Anchorman" star and his producing partner are planning another feature film.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Dancing Grandpa is the best Grandpa

grandpa

This man might need two canes to walk, but he doesn't need any help to dance!

in Entertainment

Batman Day honors 75 years of the Dark Knight

Updated
batman

DC Comics marks 75 years of Gotham's top crime-fighter today.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: July 23

winehouse2

A look at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.