According to music icon Don Henley, intellectual property rights are not a joking matter.

Duluth Trading Company found this out when it adopted the advertising slogan: “Don a henley, take it easy” to promote and sell Henley shirts (examples pictured below).

Despite my purported (at least in my mind) fashion expertise, I first learned what a Henley was by reading the complaint filed by Don Henley against the Duluth Trading Company.

Henleys (the shirts) are named after rowers that donned (no pun intended) them while rowing in royal regattas called Henley-On-Thames.

Don Henley sued Duluth Trading Company based on the ad campaign, alleging violation of his common law and statutory rights of publicity; trademark infringement and false endorsement in violation of federal law; and violations of the California Business & Professions Code.

In response, Duluth Trading Co. basically asked Henley “Can’t you take a joke?” The company’s lawyers brought a motion to dismiss the right of publicity claims based on the First Amendment, which allows using a celebrity’s name in a transformative nature to cheekily point out the coincidence that the iconic Mr. Henley’s first name also means “to wear” and his last name explains what you should be wearing.

You may recall that I posted about the right of publicity before here. Regardless of the merits as an Eagles (and especially Don Henley) fan, I am pulling for Mr. Henley to win this dispute.

  • James Mahoney

    Really? I think Donny-boy ought to loosen his load before the sound of his own wheels makes him crazy.

    Seriously, lowercase henly indicates it isn’t a shirt designed by Mr. Henly, nor would I be led to believe that he endorsed or was otherwise associated with it. To my mind, it’s a pretty simple case of a clever, throwaway headline that’s both accurate (the generic name of the type of shirt) and in keeping with the casual nature of the garment.

    And, as far as cementing awareness of this type of shirt goes, I doubt that I’ll ever forget that a henly is a shirt named after rowers in a particular race. Hope they have that as a Jeopardy answer if I ever make it to the show. Prior to reading your post, if the answer was, “He’s the Eagle whose name is the same as a shirt worn by regatta rowers,” I probably woulda thought, “Joe Walsh has a shirt named after him?”