John Wayne's nickname, "the Duke," is causing strife between Wayne's heirs and Duke University. John Wayne Enterprises has slapped the Durham, N.C. school with a lawsuit over the use of Wayne's nickname on alcoholic beverages.
Last year, John Wayne Enterprises tried to trademark all uses of the term "Duke" on alcoholic beverages except beer, to which Duke University responded with an objection. Now, Wayne's heirs are suing Duke University over the objection.
Wayne's heirs want to market a trademarked bourbon with Wayne's image, and the complaint says that Duke University's idea that consumers would associate the spirits with the school is "ludicrous."
"Duke University is not and never has been in the business of producing, marketing, distributing, or selling alcohol," the complaint reads. "Duke University does not own the word 'Duke' in all contexts for all purposes." The actor's family seeks a "declaratory judgment that there is no likelihood of confusion," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The complaint also includes a bit of backstory about Wayne, who was born Marion Robert Morrison, and how he became "the Duke." Duke was his dog's name, but after local firefighters in Iowa called a young Wayne "Duke" as well, the nickname stuck.