Pro tip: if you’re working on a pun for your company newsletter, don’t use the name of a famous rockstar, he’ll have lawyers. This is the lesson that Eagles legend Don Henley is teaching clothing maker Duluth Trading Co, claiming the company infringed on his trademark in an email for its Henley T-shirt.
As Rolling Stone reports, a company email included the pun, “Don a Henley and Take It Easy”. The legend’s suit alleges that not only does the line make an apparently unauthorised reference to the singer and drummer’s name, but also to the title of one of the band’s most famous singles, 1972’s Take It Easy.
According to the suit, the company did not seek a license to use Henley’s name and highlights the rocker’s litigious past, saying Henley has enforced his rights to his name, trademarks, and other intellectual property over the years, including his recent criticism of Frank Ocean and Okkervil River. Henley wants the company to stop using his name is seeking “damages and other appropriate relief”.
“This kind of thing happens with some degree of frequency, and the members of the Eagles always defend their rights, often at great expense,” Henley’s rep, Larry Solters, told Rolling Stone. “One would think that the people in charge of marketing for these corporations would have learned by now that US law forbids trading on the name of a celebrity without permission from that celebrity,” he added.
According to Solters, the band enjoy their iron-fisted rule over their trademarks. “They pride themselves on the fact that they have never allowed their names, likenesses or music… to be used to sell products. Their names are their trademarks and, therefore, they take offense when an individual or a business tries to piggyback and capitalize on their art, their hard work and their goodwill in the public arena,” he said.
Back in June, Music Feeds reported on the ongoing dispute between Henley and R&B singer Ocean after Henley referred to Ocean’s sampling of his band’s 1977 classic Hotel California as “illegal” and admonished the singer for his “arrogance”, saying, “What kind of ego is that? I don’t understand it.”