There is no doubt that everyone has heard of the legendary rock band Eagles. The name should immediately incite childhood memories of listening to “Hotel California” while on a stroll in your father’s beat up, old lemon of a truck on a warm, Sunday afternoon. One thing that has never been heard of before, however, is the use of the Eagles’ name, or their band members’ for that matter, in any form of advertisement for a product. That is, until now.
It is widely known that the Eagles pride themselves in never having allowed the use of their hard-earned fame and recognition for the sake of endorsing a product, yet one company, Duluth Trading Co. has apparently done just that. As part of their online promotion of henley-style shirts, the company used both Don Henley’s name, as well as the name of their first single “Take It Easy,” in the form of a banal pun, one which immediately caught the attention of Henley. It seems as though the company didn’t take into account the fact U.S law forbids the use of celebrity names in advertisements without their permission, unless of course, they’ve been dead for a considerable length of years. Henley, however, alive and well, has expressed the sentiment that the company is misleading customers into thinking that he is endorsing their product, when, in fact, he is not. As a result, Henley has taken to suing the company for the advertisement which, up until this point, has only appeared online via email.
This brings up an important issue: should companies have the right to casually refer to a celebrity’s name in an advertisement? After all, Don Henley’s name isn’t directly stated in the advertisement. One must decipher the headline in order to understand the reference. As previously stated, U.S law forbids the use of celebrity names in advertisements without permission, but what about their use in creative language?
Albeit, the pun does not reflect tasteful marketing, and certainly some die-hard fans have briefly thought of the Eagles when shopping for henley shirts, but whether these facts have any effect on the legal situation is not yet clear. One must take into account the fact that the Eagles have always been adamant in not allowing the use of their name or likeness in any form of advertisement, and had Duluth asked Henley for his permission he would have most likely refused.
Should Duluth Trading Co. be allowed to use Don Henley’s name without his permission?
Lusk, D. (2014, October 15). Don Henley sues clothing company over Eagles pun. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/don-henley-sues-clothing-company-over-eagles-pun/