John Wayne family, Duke University fight over rights to iconic ‘The Duke’ name

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Bryan Gray/ Duke Spirits

A federal district court in California dismissed a lawsuit this week by John Wayne’s family to trademark the iconic actor’s nickname — “The Duke.”

John Wayne Enterprises, run by the late actor’s son Ethan Wayne, began selling “Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey,” to the chagrin of Duke University, who opposed the effort.

Wayne appeared on “Fox and Friends Weekend” Saturday to discuss the case.

“I’m in the business of selling John Wayne. If people don’t understand that it’s a John Wayne product, I’m losing my customer,” he said. “I’m not going to sell any products. So, I’ve got to make sure it’s ‘Duke’ Wayne and not Duke University.”

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The battle over the bourbon is the latest in a longstanding dispute between the two parties over the use of the name. According to Fox News, attorneys for the university say allowing John Wayne Enterprises to use the namecould cause confusion and diminish its value.

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison and has used the name Duke since childhood, acquiring it up from a boyhood dog.

Ethan Wayne said the school’s argument is “preposterous,” saying no one is going to confuse the bourbon and its distinct label with Duke University.

He promised to fight on, saying the setback was based on jurisdiction not the merits of their case.

Watch the interview from Fox News here:


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Tom Tillison

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