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Law Firm of Lindsey Daugherty | Denver, Colorado Attorney

The Blue Devils vs. an American Icon

What does Duke University have in common with John Wayne? They share a common beloved name—“Duke.” John Wayne’s heirs wish to keep the association between the name and Mr. Wayne alive, but the university wishes to abolish that.

Originally the name of his childhood dog, Wayne took on the nickname “Duke” and was referred to by the name throughout his career. Since his passing, diehard fans still associate the name with the famous actor. Wayne’s heirs are now fighting the university to use the name for a new brand of bourbon to be released in Wayne’s memory. The bottle is to feature the nickname and an image of Wayne holding a gun.

Duke University is opposed to the name of the drink because they feel customers may associate the alcohol with the university, potentially hurting the school’s image and reputation.

Both entities hold rights to the name. Thus, Duke University filed a lawsuit against the heirs in federal court in order to show that their claim to the name is superior.

Will the judge be a Blue Devils fanatic and rule in favor of the university? Or will the judge be The Quiet Man with True Grit and decide that the Wayne family may continue to remember the actor by his nickname? We will have to wait and see.

Background Photo Credit: Kasia Broussalian © 2015