Thursday, July 10, 2014

Does Duke own "Duke"?

The heirs of John "The Duke" Wayne are involved in a lawsuit with Duke University over whether or not Duke University can hold trademark on "Duke".  The heirs wish to market a bourbon sold under the name "Duke".

Duke University spokesman Michael Schoenfield:  “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. 

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.  


Curiously, Marion Mitchell Morrison was known as Duke long before he was known as John Wayne.  Called Little Duke by a local fireman way back in 1911 when the family moved to Glendale, California because as a child he never went anywhere without his dog Duke, the name stuck.

Duke University was originally known as Brown's Schoolhouse, adopting the name Union Institute Academy in 1841, Normal College in 1851, renamed Trinity College in 1859, and didn't become Duke until 1924 when John B Duke endowed the Duke Endowment with forty million dollars.

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