Nov 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court will hear Jack Daniel's case against dog toy company

Jack Daniels whiskey bottles are seen in a bar in Krakow, Poland on May 25, 2022

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a dispute between Jack Daniel's and a dog toy company that sells chewable "Bad Spaniels" whiskey bottles.

Why it matters: The case carries implications for trademark law — and a number of companies, like Levi Strauss and the makers of Campbell Soup, have filed amicus briefs on the topic, AP notes.

Driving the news: Jack Daniel's asked the Supreme Court to hear its case against the toy maker, claiming that the "poop-themed dog toys" could confound shoppers.

  • "To be sure, everyone likes a good joke. But VIP’s profit-motivated 'joke' confuses consumers by taking advantage of Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill," Lisa Blatt, the company's lead attorney, wrote in a court filing.
  • "Providing near-blanket protection to humorous infringers in the Ninth Circuit undermines Congress’ goals, creates dis-uniformity, and rewards forum shopping," Blatt argued.

The other side: The toy maker, however, contended that Jack Daniel's "lacks a sense of humor."

  • "It is ironic that America’s leading distiller of whiskey both lacks a sense of humor and does not recognize when it — and everyone else — has had enough," lawyers for VIP Products wrote in their filing.
  • "In the playful parodic tradition that has ranged over a half century [...] VIP put out a chewable dog toy."
  • "VIP has never sold whiskey or other comestibles, nor has it used 'Jack Daniel’s' in any way (humorously or not). It merely mimicked enough of the iconic bottle that people would get the joke," the filing said.

The big picture: Jack Daniel's previously told VIP to stop selling its Bad Spaniels toys, but lost an appeal in court, AP reported.

  • This isn't the first time the case has reached the country's highest court — last year, the justices declined to hear it, per the New York Post.
Go deeper