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Charles B. Sears Law Library SUNY Buffalo Law School

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Duking It Out

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |


I will admit to a slight obsession with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge since the royal wedding, but just as there is one fictional lawyer for me (who you can now take to the beach in ebook form—thanks, Harper!) there is only one Duke. Do I need to give you three guesses, Pilgrim? Obviously I’m talking about Marion Robert Morrison, better known as John Wayne. Fun fact—John Wayne starred in the “print the legend” masterpiece, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,  which contains my second favorite fictional lawyer, Ransom Stoddard. So when I hear that certain institution of higher learning is putting its dukes up against the legend who brought Sean Thornton and Rooster Cogburn to life, its’ going to catch my attention.

Duke University and John Wayne Enterprises—Wayne passed in 1979, but his heirs are keeping up the legacy—have been squaring off over the word “Duke” for years now. (Back in ’05, the University objected to the heirs’ trademark application to use the name Duke for a restaurant.) Now the University is objecting to John Wayne Enterprises’ plans to expand into the bourbon market.  The heirs have taken the University to court, arguing, “Duke University does not own the word ‘Duke’ in all contexts for all purposes.”

Them’s clearly fightin’ words. I’m not sure how this one is going to shake out, but I am fairly certain that you don’t want to mess with the Duke.

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