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Duke And The Duke Duke It Out Over Duke Bourbon

from the dookie dept

It never stops: somehow the concept of trademark disputes and alcohol are intrinsically intertwined or something. I've always been surprised at how many trademark disputes involving beer or liquor I seem to come across, from small breweries battling egotistical families, to small breweries battling big breweries, and to small breweries battling Texas A&M (seriously...). But this one is a new one, even for me.

See apparently Duke University and the heirs of John Wayne, a.k.a. The Duke, have had something of a long Hatfields vs. Mccoys type of feud. Both entities have separate trademarks on "Duke" that mostly results in each going after the other every time either tries to expand into a different market while using the moniker. This latest go 'round is over bourbon, which I love, and Duke University is claiming that a John Wayne themed bourbon might be mistaken as a university-branded bourbon.

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.
And you can see Duke University's point. After all, their logo...


...is strikingly similar to the proposed logo for Duke Bourbon...


I can just sense all of you scratching your heads in concentration as you try to determine whether or not those two brands are related. Here's a crazy thought: maybe the fact that the bourbon label doesn't include the word "university", has a completely different color scheme, shows the damned picture and signature of one of the most famous movie stars in the history of cinema, and even has the state of Kentucky make a cameo, while Duke University is in North Carolina, all means that the likelihood of confusion is essentially null, void, and damn it why do we have to have this stupid conversation?

The most likely scenario is one where these two entities are so used to just going legal every time one of them does anything with the word "Duke" that they can't help themselves any longer. They're just feuding to feud at this point, which would be fine except that isn't the purpose of trademark law and it sets a crappy example for everyone else to follow. You'd think an institution like Duke University would be better than that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 6:56pm

    Jobs

    They are feuding to protect their jobs. Each organization has a legal department. The people in the legal departments don't want to lose their jobs. So if they continually file suits against one another, they can make sure they stay employed, and even get to hire some of their buddies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Binko Barnes (profile), Jul 11th, 2014 @ 6:56pm

    The part that bothers me the most is that there exists an entity called "John Wayne Enterprises" that holds a monopoly on and acts to monetize a long dead beloved cultural figure.

    Meanwhile fans and the public are legally blocked from making any kind of creative use of this cultural icon. It seems we have absolutely no common, shared culture beyond worship of the dollar.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Zem, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 7:00pm

    The bit I don't get. What kind of brand protection does stupid, frivolous, insulting to consumers legal disputes do for the Duke School of Law?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 7:06pm

    Duke Uni has had one too many Dukes.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 7:10pm

    What about the baked beans dog?

    If 'The Duke' is nickname of a dog,
    and the baked beans dog is 'Duke', then doesn't the dog currently alive have rights to the name instead?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 7:30pm

    Uh oh. I think I just sent my university application forms to a bourbon whiskey brewery. /s

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    mimeflu, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 9:34pm

    Duke?

    What about Duke Snider? Shit I'm old.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Kronomex, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 11:37pm

    What a crock of shit! All this does is show how pathetic they are.
    Where's the president armed with a machine gun shouting:
    President: [fires machine gun at the Duke] Ayy! Number Onnee! You're the Duke! You're the Duke!
    [stops firing]
    President: You're the... Duke.
    [quietly]
    President: You're... A-number one.

    (thanks to whoever put the quotes up on IMDb)

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Vinquus, Jul 12th, 2014 @ 8:47am

    So two entities, neither of which is a Duke, is suing another entity for using the word Duke, which they are not, but which only they are allowed to be called?

    What does the Grand Old Duke of York think about this?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    edpo, Jul 12th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    dook law

    Nixon went to Duke Law.

    Lawsuit dismissed with prejudice.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Reality bites, Jul 12th, 2014 @ 3:35pm

    The fact it is going to court proves judges are stupid

    Nothing in the world dumber or more useless than a judge.
    Legal parasites do nothing, produce nothing, just suck at neck vein of mankind.

    The legal system is proof of mans inability to negotiate.

    Now we let chimps in wigs rule, perhaps planet of apes was real after all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2014 @ 8:53pm

    I tell ya, pilgrim, I don't get it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    askeptic, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    JWE is headed by Ethan Wayne, The Duke's youngest son, who is a fierce protector of his father's legacy.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Steve, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Jobs

    "A town too small to support one lawyer can easily support two"

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    All Fiction, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    It's not Duke University's fault. It is very specific Duke lawyers and administrators. Their names need to be brought forth and be humiliated for their deeds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Victor Erimita, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Man, I would never associate an esteemed university like Duke with bourbon, would you? I would associate Duke with false accusations against male athletes, a failure to examine the perfidy of their institutional conduct, with Stanley Fish led destruction of the liberal arts...you know, stuff like that. Never bourbon.

     

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  17.  
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    edwhy, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    booze

    Call it "The Duke.". That will save the Dukies any embarrassment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Fen, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 4:09pm

    "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"

    Uhm... you falsely accused the Lacrosse team of rape. And nothing happened to the "professors" who started the Duke 88 false slander of the students. Kinda late to express concerns about the value of your name - its trash.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Josh, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 9:24pm

    Duke Nukem

    What are you, some kind of bottom feeding scum sucking agle eater?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2014 @ 9:57pm

    Re:

    don't worry, as the economy goes, after graduation i think you have more chances of employment with the bourbon brewery than anywhere else.

    :p

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Donglebert The Needlessly Unready, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:27am

    Absolutely

    Both are using Duke in direct reference to the rank of nobility and leadership (correctly or not). So it's appalling if either can trademark the single word itself.

     

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  22.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    Hopefully they forward it to the University with one bottle for increased chances of acceptance!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 5:22am

    Maybe they offer brewing degrees in the University?

     

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  24.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re:

    JWE is headed by Ethan Wayne, The Duke's youngest son, who is a fierce protector of his father's legacy.

    translation:
    JWE is headed by a parasite named Ethan Wayne, The Duke's most incompetent and worthless son, who is a fierce protector of the gravy train he lucked into at the expense of the public domain.

    lifetime plus unreasonable ? how can you say that, what incentive do dead celebrities have to, well, keep being celebrated ? ? ?

    b-, bu-, but, who will think of the dead celebrities' lazy, entitled offspring who otherwise would have to earn their own living ? ? ?
    *sniffle*

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Don, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 8:50am

    Duke

    I live in SC and there are dozens of Duke's BBQ joints in this state. Never heard of a lawsuit involving them with either of the two Dukes mentioned in this article. Maybe they don't make enough money.

     

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  26.  
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    richard40 (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    A very simple settlement proposal. Any use of the john wayne duke brand logo that has a picture of john wayne included, and any use of the duke uiversity brand logo that has a picture of the college included, ia automatically not infringing, and will never be subject to litigation. Any consumer that could confuse those 2 is an idiot. Case settled, fairly and permanently, but then how could each sides idiot lawyers find future employment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Erik Pelton, Apr 25th, 2015 @ 6:57pm

    Is Duke University a champion trademark bully?

    Duke has filed many other trademark oppositions against just about anyone use uses "Duke" or a "D" for just about any product or service. For more details, see my blog post:
    http://www.erikpelton.com/2015/04/06/is-duke-university-champion-trademark-bully/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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