Last year, Duluth Trading Company ran ads promoting its henley-style shirts that urged customers to “Don a Henley and take it easy.” (Readers of a different generation, take note: Don Henley was the lead singer of the Eagles, and Take it Easy was the band’s first single in 1974.)
If you’ve read our previous posts on right of publicity issues, you may know that it’s usually not a good idea to use a celebrity’s name or image without their permission. In this case, Henley filed a lawsuit against Duluth, arguing that the retailer’s ads exploited his celebrity status, violated his publicity rights, and infringed his trademarks.
The parties agreed to settle the suit this week, and Duluth posted a public apology to Don Henley on its Facebook page. In the apology, the company noted that although it aims to keep its ads “fresh, interesting, and funny,” they had “pushed the advertising envelope too far.” “We have learned a valuable lesson and thank Mr. Henley for helping us appreciate the importance that he and other artists place in their publicity rights.”
Luckily, you don’t have to be sued by Don Henley to appreciate the importance of publicity rights.