A Silly Jack Daniel’s-Inspired Dog Toy Spurs Debate at the Supreme Court
No one is complaining about plush playthings like "White Paw" and "Woof Clicquot," so why is the whiskey brand making a fuss?
It’s fun when dog toys imitate human products — like bongs filled with crinkly noise makers, plush coffee cups stuffed with doughnuts, and squeaky cans of beer. And if you’re a dog owner or any human living on planet Earth, you likely realize that these canine playthings are simply imitations and not the real thing, right? Well, Jack Daniel’s begs to differ, claiming that a rubber dog toy that imitates their product could be mistaken for an actual bottle of their Tennessee whiskey.
And yes, they actually took this argument to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Jack Daniel’s is trying to stop production of a toy from a line of products called “Silly Squeakers” because it looks too much like their bottle. The toy in question is labeled “Bad Spaniels,” and touts that the product is “43% poo by volume, 100% smelly” instead of 40% alcohol by volume. The Jack Daniel’s phrase “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” is also replaced by “The Old No. 2, On Your Tennessee Carpet” on the squeaky toy.
As you can see, this thing really has no resemblance to the real thing. Even if you were blind, you could touch the dog toy and conclude that it’s not made of glass and in fact holds no liquid. A tag attached to the toy even reads, “not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery.” And it seems like many of the justices got a good laugh about it.
According to The New York Times, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. made the argument that “no sensible person would think the Bad Spaniels chew toy was authorized by the liquor company.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor is quoted as saying, “They don’t need permission to make a parody.”
Jack Daniel’s makes a good product, so why is the brand so insecure about a silly dog toy? Most good boys and girls are going to rip the damn thing to shreds anyway. Just let them be.
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