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Supreme Court to Heart Trademark Lawsuit on Jack Daniels-Like Dog Toys

The whiskey brand claims that a dog toy manufacturer using its image is a trademark violation.

Today, the United States Supreme Court will be presiding over a debate between whiskey brand Jack Daniels and toy manufacturer VIP Products LLC. Specifically, Jack Daniels has claimed that one of VIP’s dog chew toys, crafted in the image of a Jack Daniels bottle in a deliberate spoof, is a violation of trademark law, while VIP has countered that, as an obvious parody, the design is protected by the First Amendment.

“Jack Daniel’s loves dogs and appreciates a good joke as much as anyone. But Jack Daniel’s likes its customers even more, and doesn’t want them confused or associating its fine whiskey with dog poop,” the company’s lawyer, Lisa Blatt, wrote in court papers. VIP’s toy has an image of a dog on it, with the phrase “Bad Spaniels: The old No. 2 on your Tennessee carpet.

Blatt added that VIP “sells products mimicking Jack Daniel’s iconic marks and trade dress that mislead consumers, profit from Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill, and associate Jack Daniel’s whiskey with excrement.”

“The Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker toy is indisputably a good-faith (and successful) parody,” responded VIP’s lawyer, Bennett Cooper. “It involves a pretend trademark and pretend trade dress on a pretend label on a pretend bottle with pretend contents, when the real product is a parody embodied in a solid-vinyl dog toy with a squeaker.”

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