Why John Wayne’s Family Sued Duke University Over a Trademark Dispute


You know, maybe it is not always a good thing to get involved with the family of John Wayne. Duke University is learning the hard way. See, Duke is on the end of a lawsuit from the Wayne family. It is over the use of the word “Duke.” That is, of course, Wayne’s forever nickname “The Duke.” The Wayne family sues in a trademark dispute regarding alcoholic beverages.

John Wayne Family Sues Duke University Over Using ‘Duke’ Nickname

John Wayne Enterprises filed for a trademark application in 2021 to use the word on alcoholic drink labels, except for beer. Duke University objected. The school argues that there could be a “false suggestion of a connection” between the labels and the school, according to a complaint by the Wayne family filed July 3, 2021, in a U.S. district court in California.

But the Wayne family believes there is no reason for any confusion. Duke University “does not own the word ‘Duke’ in all contexts for all purposes,” the complaint says. “Duke University is not and never has been in the business of producing, marketing, distributing, or selling alcohol.” We get more from USA Today. John Wayne’s birth name was Marion Robert Morrison. He happens to be called Duke as a boy. It was the same name of the family dog.

Duke University Offers Its Own Words In Trademark Battle

Duke University has a few words to say, too. “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,” according to an e-mail from university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. “As Mr. Wayne himself said, ‘Words are what men live by… words they say and mean.’” The Wayne family outlined five other objections from the university since 2005.

We will wait and see how this all pans out. Still, John Wayne is lovingly remembered as “The Duke.” It speaks volumes for the man’s accomplishments. Wayne may have died in 1979 yet his movies keep his memory alive along with his fans old and new. Also, let’s talk about the generations of family members who share their own films with others.

One of the great collaborations in film history happened to be between Wayne and director John Ford. They would provide fans with movies like The Searchers, featuring Wayne in the pivotal movie role of Ethan. Both usually worked well together but it didn’t happen on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Ford reportedly kept picking on Wayne for not being an NFL star, something costar Woody Strode actually was before acting. It did bug Wayne yet he went ahead and finished the movie. Go listen to Gene Pitney sing the movie’s theme song and enjoy it.

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