A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by John Wayne’s heirs against Duke University over use of the late movie star’s “Duke” nickname, court papers obtained Wednesday show.
In the ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote that his court has no jurisdiction over the North Carolina university.
According to the lawsuit, filed in July in federal court in Santa Ana, Wayne’s family wants to register “Duke” for use in marketing bourbon and other alcoholic beverages.
Wayne’s heirs have been tussling with Duke University since 2005, when the institution filed an objection to the family’s attempt to register the nickname in connection with restaurant services.
Wayne was known as “Duke” throughout his five-decade movie career.
Last year, the school objected once again when John Wayne Enterprises tried to register “Duke” for all alcoholic beverages except beer, alleging that its use could cause confusion with Duke University’s goods and services, according to the lawsuit.
Wayne’s family argued that since the university is not in the business of marketing alcoholic drinks, “the actual and potential customer base of Duke University is vastly different” from the audience for Wayne bourbon.
“Duke University does not own the word ‘Duke’ in all contexts and purposes,” according to the lawsuit.
An image of a bottle of “Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon” depicted as Exhibit A in the suit shows Wayne’s image and signature on the label.
— City News Service