WASHINGTON D.C.: Jack Daniel's has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case against the manufacturer of the plastic Bad Spaniels toy, urging justices to take what they say is an important case for trademark law.
In a case supported by other major manufacturers, such as Campbell Soup, Patagonia and Levi Strauss, the high court could decide as soon as this week whether the justices will agree to hear the case.
In court filings, Jack Daniel's claims that Bad Spaniels toy broke the law by mimicking the square shape of its whisky bottle.
The toy retails for $13 to $20 and the packaging notes in small type, stating, "This product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery."
Lawyer for the toy maker, Arizona-based VIP Products, said Jack Daniel's cannot accept a joke. "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," the lawyer wrote to the court.
The toy manufacturer told the justices that Jack Daniel's has 'waged war" against the company for "having the temerity to produce a pun-filled parody" of its bottle.
In response, Jack Daniel's lead attorney, Lisa Blatt, said in her filing, "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."
Blatt noted that a lower court decision provides "near-blanket protection" to humorous trademark infringement.