Legal Dispute Between Duke and Heirs of John Wayne

July 10, 2014

An article by NPR explains a legal dispute between Duke University and heirs of John Wayne, sometimes known as "Duke" himself. The dispute concerns when the Duke name can be used, but the university wants it known that it is not trying to insult the memory of Wayne.

A spokesman for the university sent this email to Inside Higher Ed: "First, this is not a dispute about who owns the word 'Duke,' but rather a very specific situation that has been in negotiation for some time. Duke University does not object to use of 'The Duke' on liquor or other products that unmistakably connect that name to John Wayne through words or an image. This suit apparently seeks to establish the estate's ability to use the word even without an explicit connection to Mr. Wayne, which Duke University opposes. Note that we admire and respect John Wayne’s contributions to American culture, but we are also committed to protecting the integrity of Duke University’s trademarks. As Mr. Wayne himself once said, 'Words are what men live by … words they say and mean.’ "


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