When it comes to defending his intellectual property rights, Don Henley ain’t no new kid in town. He’ll lawyer up and in a New York minute if he thinks some desperado is guilty of the crime.
So when Wisconsin-based Duluth Trading Company ran an email ad for their Longtail T Henley shirts, that used the slogan “Don a Henley and Take it Easy”, there was no wasted time. Henley rang up Melanie Howard and Thomas Jirgal at Loeb & Loeb and got the lawsuit rolling.
Henley alleges that Duluth Trading is taking advantage of his celebrity and a song he co-wrote with Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne to sell their products, essentially trading on his name. Henley did not go quietly.
Henley’s complaint states:
"Large numbers of customers who receive and see Duluth Trading Company’s advertisements will unquestionably believe that Mr. Henley is associated with and/or has endorsed the company and its products, which is not true.”
If dirt were dollars, Duluth might have sought to pay Henley for his endorsement, if he would give it.
“This kind of thing happens with some degree of frequency,” a spokesperson for Henley said, getting to the heart of the matter, “and the members of the Eagles always defend their rights, often at great expense. 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. 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,”
Henley has previously fought politicians, and won, when they used his songs in campaign videos, wrapping their political dirty laundry in his art. Perhaps they thought he’d get over it. I can’t tell you why.
One of these nights, people are going to get the message that The Eagles are fine with you enjoying their music. But infringing on their copyright is living life in the fast lane.
With a trigger-happy Henley ready to defend his intellectual, infringers have to ask themselves, “How bad do you want it?”