Don Henley has filed a lawsuit against the clothing maker Duluth Trading Co., claiming that the company infringed on his trademark in an email ad for its Henley T-shirt, by including the pun, “Don a Henley and Take It Easy.” The suit alleges that the line references not only the Eagles singer and drummer’s name but also the title of the group’s breakthrough single, “Take It Easy,” which, incidentally, was sung by Glenn Frey and written by Frey and Jackson Browne.
The company did not seek a license to use Henley’s name, according to the suit (via The Hollywood Reporter), and the suit underscore the fact that Henley has enforced his rights to his name, trademarks and other intellectual property over the years. The singer-songwriter wants the company to stop using his name and 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, tells Rolling Stone. “One would think that the people in charge of marketing for these corporations would have learned by now that U.S. law forbids trading on the name of a celebrity without permission from that celebrity.
“Both Mr. Henley and the Eagles have worked hard, for over 40 years, to build their names and goodwill in the world community,” he continues. “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 Duluth Trading Co. tells Rolling Stone. “Our policy is to not comment on the specifics regarding matters of litigation.”
Earlier this year, Henley criticized singer Frank Ocean and the group Okkervil River for appropriating his songs and changing them for their own. Henley decried the latter band for recording his solo hit “The End of Innocence,” rewriting its lyrics and distributing it online for free.
The group’s frontman, Will Sheff, replied in an op-ed for Rolling Stone. “‘The End of the Innocence’ is surprisingly fatalistic and despairing for a pop radio hit, but it seems to back off of that despair at the end,” he wrote. “I felt like it would be interesting if the lyrics worked through that feeling of despair and tried to understand it and take it to the limit, as it were. So I changed the last verse and chorus totally. I was thinking I might excerpt the lyrics here, but then I was like, ‘Would that get me in trouble? Could I be sued for that?’ I don’t know the answer, so I guess I won’t. I guess the song won’t exist. Wish you could hear it. I’m proud of it.”