A dispute between Jack Daniel’s and the maker of a Squeaky Dog toy modeled after the iconic whiskey bottle with toilet-themed puns has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, the court discussed whether the toy company violated Jack Daniel’s trademark rights.
poop theme However The toy, which resembles an alcoholic drink bottle, had court judges giggling as they debated how much protection should be afforded to those who misappropriate other brands.
The case involved VIP Products’ “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker” toy, which bears many resemblances to Jack Daniel’s bottle.
As the court proceeded, it wasn’t clear from the arguments whether Jack Daniel’s case hit the rocks, or if the Bud Hound maker was in trouble.
Judge Samuel Alito cast doubt on Jack Daniel’s arguments.
“Would any reasonable person think that Jack Daniels had approved this use for the market?” he asked at one point, suggesting that the toy was an unmistakable imitation and legally acceptable.
When the company’s lawyers tried to challenge the judge’s knowledge of dog toys, Judge Alito replied, “I have a dog. I know something about dogs.” His late springer Zeus sometimes visited court.
But during the debate, at least one judge said she didn’t understand the humor behind the toy and seemed more willing to rule against it.
Judge Elena Kagan said: “Maybe I just have no sense of humor. But what’s a parody?”
Judge Kagan also said the toy was an “ordinary commercial product” traded in the appearance of a beverage company’s bottle.
‘Old Number 2’ on your carpet
Arizona-based VIP Products has been selling its Bad Spaniels toys since 2014 and has since added its own line of Silly Squeakers chew toys that mimic liquor, beer, wine and soda bottles.
Its most notable imitation is its “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” toy, which reads: “The Old No. 2 on Your Tennessee Carpet.”
Bottles of Jack Daniel’s read: “Old House No. 7” and “Tennessee Sour Malt Whiskey.”
The original bottle says it’s 40% alcohol by volume, mimics a dog’s face, and says it’s “43% Poo by Vol.” and “100% Stinky”.
The toy, which sells for around $20 (£16.23), also says in small print on its packaging: “This product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery”.
Drink’s ingredient can help keep skin healthy, study finds
Men under 40 ‘should drink no more than one beer a day’
“Good whiskey has nothing to do with shit”
Funny or not, Jack Daniel’s isn’t amused.
“Jack Daniels loves dogs and jokes as much as anyone,” wrote the company’s attorney, Lisa Bratt, in a Superior Court filing.
“But Jack Daniel’s prefers its customers and doesn’t want them to confuse or associate its premium whiskey with shit.”
Ms Blatter argued that toy VIP products sold to customers were misleading and that the company profited from “Jack Daniels’ hard-earned goodwill”.
Legal bid to ban ‘playful parodies’
At the heart of all of this is the Lanham Act.
The Lanham Act is a trademark law that was enacted by Congress in 1949.
The Act protects owners of federally registered trademarks from similar marks that may cause consumer confusion.
Jack Daniel’s said the lower courts were wrong to side with VIP before the case reached the Supreme Court.
Bennett Cooper, an attorney for VIP Products, told the judge in a court filing that Jack Daniel’s “attempted to use the Lanham Act to suppress even VIP Products LLC’s naughty dog toy imitation.”
Jack Daniel’s has since been endorsed by the President of the United States joe biden’s administration and big companies, including Nike, Campbell Soup, Patagonia, and Levi’s.