Just So Story Concerning Ducks and Ducts
A great deal of confusion has arisen of the etymology and usage of the terms duck tape and duct tape. Let's start with our aquatic friend the duck. Back, oh say some time ago,
Peter Stuyvesant, newly appointed director-general of the New Netherlands colony, arrived in new Amsterdam in 1646 to note the apparent lack of good care that the
world's greatest fleet was taking of their sails. Being a man of infinite wit and considerable resource, he consulted a junior officer from Fort Orange, Brant Arent Van Slechtenhorst, on how to solve the great tears in the cloth (Dutch doek, cloth) of the navy's vessels. Slechtenhorst proposed that tar and other gooey stuff applied to strips of cloth from sails that had been removed from service as unrepairable would serve to repair the torn sails of the fleet, and so, duck tape became widely used in the Dutch navy, influencing even young Peter the Great who spent years in Holland studying the famed Dutch Navy and directly borrowing terms into Russian such as schooner, yacht (from Jagt - to chase), etc. The English language has similarly borrowed Dutch nautical terms like sloop (Dutch sloep, boat) schooner and yacht. So it's no surprise that the humble duck has also been introduced into our language.
Around the same time - the HVAC guild of lower Schenectady was experimenting with ways of sealing ducts. Having foreseen the Walrus and Carpenter, they did make some early efforts with shoes and ships and sealing wax (and ceiling wax), cabbages, and a few kings. Having no success, they went to the harbor to get drunk, met some Dutch sailors and shared their problems over a pint. Well, maybe a metric pint. Being proud men, they stole the solution shared by the sailors, renamed their invention DUCT tape in order to cover the trail of the borrowed solution, and being good Americans, they promptly filed patent, an effort that went largely unrewarded since the USPTO would not exist for another hundred years.
And so best beloved, now you know where duct tape and duck tape got their names.
And with that - we have a win-win for the second time and I gracefully retire from the debate :)