Estate of John Wayne Files Lawsuit Against Duke University Over “Duke” Trademark
John Wayne Enterprises (JWE) has filed a complaint in California federal court seeking declaratory judgments determining that its usage of the “Duke” trademark is not likely to cause confusion with the trademarks owned by Duke University, which has challenged several JWE trademark applications over the last decade. John Wayne Enterprises, LLC v. Duke Univ., No. 14-1020 (C.D. Cal., filed July 3, 2014). JWE intends to sell bourbon under the name Duke, a nickname John Wayne used since his childhood and which fans still use to affectionately refer to him. Duke University has repeatedly challenged JWE’s past trademark applications by filing notices of opposition and a petition for cancellation of JWE’s owned “Duke” trademarks, alleging that the marks suggest a false connection to the university, would likely confuse consumers and dilute the university’s trademarks. JWE seeks two declaratory judgments to determine that its “Duke” mark does not create any likelihood of confusion and does not dilute the university’s marks.