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Duke vs The Duke

11:42 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Here is a legal fight where the cultural war lines could hardly be drawn any more clearly.  John Wayne or a school in North Carolina, infected with the PC virus and notorious for a quasi lynching of its own lacrosse team.  

The heirs of John Wayne have plans to make money off the Wayne brand under the name by which the film star was known to his fans.  He was “the Duke.”  So, as Anne Blythe of the Raleigh News and Observer reports:

As part of a long-running legal tussle, the Durham university and John Wayne Enterprises have been fighting over “Duke” trademarks and whether the family of the star of countless classic westerns can brand their bourbon with the name they want.

Well, one can be sure that at Duke University, bourbon is not on the approved substances list. Bourbon is a legendarily populist and manly drink and obviously in conflict with the ethos of the university which is built on the foundation of a fortune made in tobacco, but never mind. Anyway, if the university tried to make some it would probably use soybeans in the mash. But if, by some miracle, the university did produce a batch of decent whiskey, no true bourbon drinker would touch the stuff. You gotta draw a line.  And like the real Duke, be prepared to level anyone who crosses it. 

But, of course, Duke (the school) doesn’t have any intention of bottling and selling bourbon. This is about principles.  So ...

In their statement of opposition to the Trademark Office, Duke stated that “in order to prevent tarnishment of its brand, [Duke University] does not permit use of confusingly similar marks associated with unapproved goods or services, of uncertain quality and/or unregulated by [Duke University].”

The courts should take a pass on this one.  Nobody will ever confuse John Wayne with Duke University.  

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