Protecting trademarks from infringement is a challenge for many businesses, but sometimes it's hard to tell when copyright holders have a legitimate claim and when they're just being bullies. 

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Enter the case of Duke University vs. the John Wayne estate, which is trying to sell a "Duke" brand of bourbon. The late actor may have been known by his nickname "Duke," but does that mean his estate should be able to sell booze under the name?

The university says no, and has filed an objection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office "to prevent tarnishment of its brand." While the school's trademark might not pertain to alcohol industry, it doesn't necessarily have to. 

"It may seem like the estate is being unfairly blocked from its business plans, but I think what Duke [University] is doing is within the realm of the enforcement expectations of a famous mark," Reid Wilson, an adjunct professor of trademark law at Ohio State University told NPR. "A nickname doesn't give you the ability to have a mark."

The Duke bourbon spat is just the latest development in a roughly decade-long dispute between the Wayne estate and the Blue Devils over restaurant services, gaming machines, and celebrity licensing services, The Hollywood Reporter reports. 

While the possibility seems slim that consumers might confuse bourbon bearing the image of John Wayne with Duke University, entrepreneurs holding trademarks do have a right to defend their intellectual property.

So, should John Wayne's estate be able to diversify into alcohol using the name "Duke"?" Tell us what you think in the comments below.