Duke University and John Wayne family fight over Duke name

John Wayne Enterprises is suing Duke University for attempting to stop them from using the word “Duke” to sell their brand of bourbon whiskey.

Duke University has submitted numerous complaints about any attempted use of the “Duke” to sell products. However, it is the university’s latest objection over the invention of “Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” that has finally pushed the Wayne family to request an official ruling on the case, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

John Wayne, originally named Marion Robert Morrison, was nicknamed Duke when he was still a young boy after his dog, who was also named Duke. The nickname stuck with the actor throughout his life, as he gained fame for his acting and until his death in 1979.

In the complaint against Duke University, the Wayne heirs express their skepticism at Duke’s objection, believing that just because the word “Duke” is on their product does not mean the alcohol will be associated with educational institute. However, Duke University is invested in preserving its reputation and avoiding any sort of connection to selling alcohol. In a statement to CNN, the school’s spokesperson Michael Schoenfeld stated, “”While we admire and respect John Wayne’s contributions to American culture, we are also committed to protecting the integrity of Duke University’s trademarks. As Mr. Wayne himself said, ‘Words are what men live by … words they say and mean.'”

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