This week, the United States Supreme Court added to its oral arguments calendar an mental property case between Tennessee whiskey model Jack Daniels and VIP Products LLC, makers of a line of canine toys known as Silly Squeakers, which parody alcohol packaging from manufacturers akin to Budweiser, Corona, and Jack Daniels.
Litigation between Jack Daniels and VIP began in September 2014, with each side seeing wins within the decrease courts all through that point. At problem is the place one attracts the road between parody and IP infringement in Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc. v. VIP Products LLC. The whiskey model says VIP’s toy is analogous sufficient to Jack Daniel’s commerce costume that it’s going to trigger client confusion. Meanwhile, VIP Products argues that its “Bad Spaniels” toy is completely different and distinctive sufficient to be protected speech beneath the First Amendment.
In October 2021, a circuit court docket in Arizona dominated in favor of VIP Products, stating that Jack Daniels’ claims didn’t go relevant trademark violation checks.
“Here, whereas VIP closely imitated JDPI’s commerce costume, it additionally altered almost each component with its personal expressive content material. As a outcome, the Bad Spaniels Toy is extra much like the mashup,” the court docket’s opinion noted.
Part of Jack Daniels’ motivation is little doubt the character of the “Bad Spaniels” parody, which makes references to smelly canine feces plopped onto a carpet. Unfortunately for Jack Daniels, as long as the “Bad Spaniels” toy is discovered to be expressive content material, there’s little it may possibly do.