Corporate America’s eyes were fixed on the “whiskey bottle” issue as a dog’s toy

Corporate America's eyes were fixed on the "whiskey bottle" issue as a dog's toy
Dog and whiskey game

NOS News

The US Supreme Court today heard the case of whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s against a dog toy manufacturer. The beverage company believes that a toy dog ​​named “Bad Spaniels” is very similar to Jack Daniel’s bottles. Customers may be confused as the manufacturer doesn’t want their drink to be attached to their dog’s poop.

The case revolves around a toy dog ​​from VIP Products in Arizona. Since 2014, they have been making a line of Silly Squeakers, which means “silly squeakers”. This line consists of chew toys that resemble liquor, beer, and wine bottles. Heineken also makes fun of a game.

It’s not just about the look of the games. There are also all kinds of jokes you can associate with a brand or product. For example, Bad Spaniels says, among other things, “43 percent tube” where a well-known brand of whiskey states that the whiskey is 40 percent alcohol. On the other side of the bottle it says “100 percent stinks.”

The whiskey manufacturer says it likes the joke, but is afraid that customers will think the company is collaborating with this producer as a whiskey producer. Plus, they don’t want to be associated with poop.

‘not confusing’

So Jack Daniel’s invokes the Lanham Act, which is the trademark law of the United States. This law prohibits the use of a trademark in a manner that is “likely to cause confusion as to the origin, sponsorship, or endorsement of goods.”

According to Dog Toy Manufacturing, the whiskey maker is trying to use Lanham’s Law to “silence even the playful simulation of dog toys.” The company says there’s no way anyone could confuse gaming with whiskey.

precedent setting

The case is under a magnifying glass, as the ruling could set an important precedent. Big companies like Nike, Patagonia, and Levi Strauss have paid court, along with Jack Daniel’s. They want a provision that makes it virtually impossible to use a trademark without permission, even if it’s art or parody.

The Biden administration also got involved in this matter. He had previously urged consideration of the case, with the Justice Department siding with Jack Daniel’s.

A district court initially ruled in favor of Jack Daniel’s, finding that the game infringed the distillery’s trademark. But an appeals court later upheld the VIP products and invoked the so-called Rogers test. In this Rogers test, the use of trademarks in works of “creative expression” is already protected.

A Supreme Court ruling is expected in June.

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