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John Wayne heirs sue university over the name Duke

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — John Wayne’s heirs are dueling with Duke University over the family’s right to market bottles of bourbon branded with the late movie star’s nickname, Duke.

A federal lawsuit filed last week is the latest salvo in a long-running feud between the North Carolina university and California-based John Wayne Enterprises over who controls the trademark for commercial products featuring the name.

(Kuzma, ThinkStock)

The university fired first, opposing a 2005 trademark application filed by the actor’s heirs to use the name Duke for a restaurant. The school’s lawyers say allowing Wayne Enterprises to use Duke could cause confusion and tarnish the value of the moniker.

Wayne’s heirs point to the actor’s use of the nickname since childhood. The bourbon bottle features an image of Wayne holding a rifle with the name Duke emblazoned over it.

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