Trademarks: Jack Daniels Beats Poop-Themed Toy for Dogs

Trademarks:  Jack Daniels Beats Poop-Themed Toy for Dogs

Trademark rights are meant to keep there from being confusion in the marketplace or dilution of brand for a product class.  But in this case whiskey brand Jack Daniel can keep a look alike bottle shaped poop-themed toy for dogs.  How was there confusion about whether the dog squeeze toy bottle was a Jack Daniel product or that it was a dog toy company’s product?

The dog toy says “Old No. 2 on your Tennessee Carpet”; the Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle says “Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.”  The liquor bottle says “40% alcohol by volume”; the “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker” chew toy reads “43% poo by volume” and “100% Smelly” and the packaging states that it is not affiliated with Jack Daniel’s (“JD”).  The dog squeak toy company also produces other similar toys that resemble other notable alcohol and soda brands. How is there confusion on that?  Well, the US Supreme Court says there was and the toy is a trademark violation of Jack Daniel’s trademark.

While the underlying court found that the dog toy was a “non-commercial” parody, subject to First Amendment free speech protections, when JD appealed that decision the US Supreme Court said the $20 dog toy was profiting “from Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill” and confusing consumers by getting them to “associate Jack Daniel’s whiskey with excrement.”

Seriously?  In a statement after the ruling, the JD spokesperson said the company was pleased with the outcome:  “Jack Daniel’s is a brand recognized for quality and craftsmanship, and when friends around the world see the label, they know it stands for something they can count on.”

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