Local Current Blog

Don Henley sues Duluth Trading Co. over henley shirt pun

Photo via Don Henley on Facebook

“Don a henley and take it easy,” recommended the Duluth Trading Co. in a recent e-mail advertisement touting its henley shirts. Maybe Don Henley hears a lot of henley jokes, because he was not amused by this one: he’s suing the company for “damages and other appropriate relief.” He’s also demanding the company stop making any reference, however oblique or punny, to his name and songs—despite the fact that the Eagles song “Take It Easy” was sung by Glenn Frey and co-written by Frey with Jackson Browne.

“Both Mr. Henley and the Eagles have worked hard, for over 40 years, to build their names and goodwill in the world community,” a Henley spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter. “They pride themselves on the fact that they have never allowed their names, likenesses or music—individually or as a group—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.”

“We are aware of the claims made by Mr. Henley,” a spokesperson for the Duluth Trading Co. told Rolling Stone. “Our policy is to not comment on the specifics regarding matters of litigation.”

The Duluth Trading Co. was founded in 1989 by two brothers in Duluth to manufacture and market their newly-invented “Bucket Boss,” a canvas tool organizer that hangs on a five-gallon bucket. The company has since greatly expanded and changed ownership, and is now based in Belleville, Wisconsin. In addition to mail-order sales, they operate six retail stores including an outlet store in Belleville and a Fridley store that just opened this week.

  • Kevin Peterson

    So, Don can’t take it easy?

  • Landon Nunnery

    Really the only thing he could use is the name Henley in this argument but sadly enough you cannot monopolize a word to that degree and secondly that is the name of the product and has nothing to do with the Eagles And unless the Don wrote the English language I doubt he will be able to claim the phrase “take it easy”.

  • corbid

    Satire is legally protected fair use.

  • Nate O

    As an artist the name is the brand, when other people start making money off your name (even in funny little ways) it’s a slippery slope. If you don’t project your brand legally there’s no black & white. I don’t see it as Don can’t take a joke I ask myself is someone making money off his name? The answer is YES.

    • David Brian Dobbs

      While I understand your point, and being an artist myself I know how much you have to protect your name and brand, but under copyright laws, satire is protected under fair use laws. If Don wins this case, than basically anyone can sue Robot Chicken, Family Guy, the Simpsons, SNL, Weird Al, and a sling of others. I can understand why he would be mad, but he doesn’t have a leg to stand on in this case. Also, the Eagles suck.

      • Mike

        > Also, the Eagles suck.

        I wish I sucked like the Eagles.

  • andknew

    Oh FFS, I love his music and respect what he’s done for Walden, but sometimes he can be a real ass. I imagine him yelling at the kids in the neighborhood to get off his lawn. NOT VERY ROCK N ROLL!

  • tvrmx

    He seems like a humorless pud, but selling your song to a company may put a little money in your bank, but forever ties that song to the brand-name or product, instead of to the band, in the minds of everyone the commercial insects. Thus effectively ruining the music by transforming art into a commercial. In this case they didn’t even sell the song so I can see the point of wanting to put a stop to it. Even though maybe they really need to chill out and rest on their multibillion dollar laurels. Also, who wants to think of the Eagles anymore? yeesh.

  • Teek Phippen

    Duluth trading also sells a jacket that claims to be waterproof and it is named after the ‘Whaleback ships’ of the Great Lakes…..these ships were only active for a brief time period due to their lack of sea worthy-ness …..hahahah!!! Do your research Duluth! A water-tight coat named after a failure of a Great Lakes vessel???…….I find this funny!

    • minnesota linux

      Never heard of that ship so I looked it up on Wikipedia, which says

      Whether towed or under their own power they were seaworthy vessels and fast for their time, averaging 15 knots


      • Teek Phippen

        …..But short-lived because of their design flaws…….while they were afloat, their buoyancy ratings were high but, they were not functional in the day to day loading and unloading process…..their low profile also caused haphazard conditions for other vessels………a tricky short-lived idea that had good intentions but failed in the long-haul……..NOT a good model for a seaworthy coat……..one star.

  • AnnaO

    The ad doesn’t specifically use his name or the song title. It certainly references them but to claim trademark damages is ridiculous. I hope Duluth Trading doesn’t back down or settle.

  • David P.

    The Horror of a satirical pun!
    First name = verb, to put on (attire)
    Last name = noun, a type of shirt (collarless long sleeve)
    Don (name, not verb), sue your parents.
    (PS – I promise not to sing any Eagles songs while sitting around the campfire)

  • Wayne

    Don Henley is a dickhead, Mojo Nixon was right…

  • Nancy O

    Subjects of satire cannot sue unless the comments contain a provable false fact, which in this case is that Don can’t take it easy!

  • Denny P

    Yes, Henley’s insufferable, and yes, satire is protected, but only as social commentary, not for commercial use, as in an advertisement.

  • reece rum

    can I sue don Henley for exposing me to drugs and prostitutes when I worked backstage at alpine valley in the late ’80’s? my life changed that night, I can’t say for the better, except in the moment!!

  • JLP

    It’s funny that this Don Henley is the same Don Henley who gripes about greed in his songs…

  • mark

    What an elitist puke! If it were not for the Eagles I would not even know who he is. This guy has not been mainstream for a long time. If he had not complained I would not even make the connection to his name.