Clothing manufacturer Duluth Trading Co. apologized to Eagles frontman Don Henley, ending a dispute that began last fall when the Wisconsin-based company used the artist's fame to sell shirts without his permission.
The company sent an email ad last October for a sale that read, "Don a henley and take it easy," a reference to The Eagles' hit song. Shortly after, Mr. Henley accused the company of exploiting his fame and possibly tricking people into thinking he endorsed the shirts. He filed a lawsuit in California district court charging that the use of his first and last name, which he trademarked, violated intellectual property laws.
The case was settled in court on Tuesday, April 14 and the company issued an apology on its website. "We pushed the advertising envelope too far...," the company said. "We are deeply regretful and we apologize, not just to Mr. Henley, but to anyone else who took offense."
Mr. Henley, an advocate for artists' rights, has never allowed his name to advertise products, according to a spokesman for the artist.
"Both Mr. Henley and the Eagles have worked hard for more than 40 years and 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, " said Larry Solters, spokesman for Mr. Henley and the Eagles, in an email. "One would hope that these corporations will finally learn that U.S. law forbids trading on the name of a celebrity without permission."
At the behest of Mr. Henley, Duluth also made a monetary donation to the artist's non-profit organization Walden Wood Project, which was founded 25 years ago and aims to preserve the works of Henry David Thoreau.
Here is the full apology letter from Duluth:
To our customers, friends, and Don Henley:
As many of you know, Duluth prides itself on not taking itself too seriously and this culture is often seen in our advertising, which we try and keep fresh, interesting, and funny. Unfortunately, we pushed the advertising envelope too far and distributed an advertisement promoting our line of Henley shirts that invoked American recording artist Don Henley's name without his permission.
Mr. Henley has long been an advocate of artists' rights and he brought his objections to our attention. We appreciate and respect what Mr. Henley has meant to music and we now see that our use of his name and an Eagles' song title in our advertisement was inappropriate. For that we are deeply regretful and we apologize, not just to Mr. Henley, but to anyone else who took offense. 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.
We have, at Mr. Henley's request, also made a monetary payment to be directed to the Walden Woods Project, in recognition of the 25th Anniversary of its founding, to resolve this matter.
Very truly yours,
DULUTH TRADING COMPANY