Most of our readers are probably familiar with the Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty fame. Duck Commander, the Robertson family company, was recently named as a defendant involving allegations of breach of contract, trademark infringement, and violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act.
At issue in the lawsuit, brought by Chinook USA LLC, is a merchandising license agreement with Duck Commander which allegedly granted Chinook the exclusive right to market tea and other beverages under the banner of the Duck Commander and Uncle Si, one of the big names in the family.
Chinook claims Duck Commander: failed to cooperate with Chinook’s marketing strategies as required under the agreement; had given A&E—the network that owns the rights to the show Duck Dynasty—control over the company’s licensed properties; and also granted exclusive rights to the properties to other manufacturers and distributors of similar products to those Chinook was looking to market.
Obviously, the allegations against Duck Commander are serious. Companies that fail to abide by their contractual obligations, and which profit from invalid contracts, should be held accountable to the parties they harm. In this case, it isn’t yet clear how Duck Commander will respond to the allegations, but the company is clearly in need of legal advocacy given the claims.
For entrepreneurs, merchandise licensing is an important way to develop and market their products and build their brand. Licensing is also an important process to properly navigate for companies whose identity is very marketable and who are at risk of intellectual property infringement. In our next post, we’ll look at some of the basics of merchandise licensing and why it is important to work with an experienced businesses law attorney in this area.