Don Henley has been notoriously litigious in the past — he threatened to sue Frank Ocean a few years ago for sampling “Hotel California” on his Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape, and he was still pissed about that in June of this year, in addition to being mad that Okkervil River dared to cover one of his songs. Now, it looks like he’s going after a Wisconsin-based clothing company over an e-mail advertisement that used a pun referring to both him and an Eagles song. Duluth Trading Company sent out an e-mail on October 6th that had the text, “Don a Henley and take it easy,” making a pretty clever double pun using Henley himself and the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy.” (That’s the ad above.) Henley didn’t find it so clever and has filed a lawsuit in a California court, saying that the company took advantage of his celebrity and that this advertisement will cause confusion among consumers as to whether or not he is promoting the product in question.
This kind of thing happens with some degree of frequency 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.
You can read the full complaint here.