As TComp knows, it is a trademark owner's responsibility to defend the mark and if an owner fails to zealously defend a mark, it can lose its value. I'm sure no one would deny that the value of Duke University's trademark is considerable. So Duke has to take on anybody who seems like even a long shot infringer. Every company with a valuable brand does this and sometimes the challenges can look or be made to look ridiculous but it doesn't seem so odd once you understand how trademark law works. Obviously, the Wayne estate has something valuable at stake too. Mainly what will happen as this unfolds is that the limits of how each entity can use the word "duke" will be established. Unfortunately for both, the word "duke" has a generic meaning as the male ruler of a duchy, and I don't recall Duke University ever suing Duke Ellington. Duke University certainly uses "Duke" as a brand and although it was John Wayne's nickname, the Wayne estate has never tried to make a brand out of it until now, so obviously they are pushing awfully close to if not actually into Duke's territory. It's not a frivolous action by any stretch. And the fact that the whiskey seems like a really shoddy, half-assed piece of work doesn't help their cause.