https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65043219The US Supreme Court will hear a case between whiskey brand Jack Daniel's and a company that made a lookalike squeaky toy for dogs. The dog toy says "Old No. 2 on your Tennessee Carpet", while the whiskey bottle reads "Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey". Jack Daniel's claims the toy infringes on its trademark. But the toy maker says it is an obvious parody and should be protected as free speech. "Freedom of speech begins with freedom to mock," said the toy company, VIP Products LLC, in court documents. But Jack Daniel's said the joke just is not funny. "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," Lisa Blatt, attorney for Jack Daniel's, wrote in court papers.
The filing continued to say the Arizona toy company was profiting "from Jack Daniel's hard-earned goodwill" and confusing consumers, by getting them to "associate Jack Daniel's whiskey with excrement". The toy costs about $20 (£16). The bottle of liquor says "40% alcohol by volume", while the "Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker" chew toy reads "43% poo by volume" and "100% Smelly". The company also produces other similar toys that resemble other notable alcohol and soda brands.
The case centres on the Lanham Act, which prohibits using a trademark that can cause customer confusion, and the US Constitution's First Amendment, which protects forms of parody and satire as necessary aspects of free speech. "The Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker toy is indisputably a good-faith (and successful) parody," wrote Bennett Cooper, an attorney representing VIP Products, in a court filing. A lower court had previously ruled in favour of VIP Products, which led Jack Daniel's to seek further review from the Supreme Court. Major brands - such as Nike, Campbell Soup Company, Patagonia and Levi Strauss - have urged justices to side with Jack Daniel's.
The Biden administration also supports Jack Daniel's claim, filing a brief that said First Amendment concerns do not override the Lanham Act, which protects trademarked brands from parodies that cause confusion. The brief also took issue with classifying the parody toy as a "non-commercial" expression, since it was a commercial product. Meanwhile free speech advocates have filed briefs in support of VIP Products.
SCOTUS heard the case of Jack Daniel's versus the squeaky dog toy.1
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