The conclusion has been reached….Supreme Court sides with Jack Daniel’s in trademark dispute with dog toy maker

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision Thursday, sided with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey in its legal fight with VIP Products, a dog toy maker whose “Bad Spaniels” toy parodies the storied whiskey brand.

Justice Elena Kagan had a rollicking good time announcing the decision on Thursday. As she read the opinion, and held up the Bad Spaniels chewy toy bottle, which looks almost exactly like the whiskey bottle, spectators erupted in laughter. At another point, making reference to a trademark case that involved Aqua’s hit song “Barbie Girl,” she recited: “I’m a blond bimbo girl, in a fantasy world.”

Humor aside, the high court overturned a lower court’s ruling, which had thrown out the Jack Daniel’s challenge on grounds that it violated First Amendment’s protections for satire.

The Bad Spaniels toy mimics the Jack Daniel’s bottle but features a drawing of a spaniel, and instead of the words on Jack’s bottle–promising 4o% alcohol by volume — Bad Spaniels promises 43% poo by volume, 100% smelly.”

The Supreme Court, however was not amused. It said that a major reason that companies want and get trademark protection is to identify a product’s source, like the Nike swoosh that distinguishes the trademarked product from other similar products. A trademark, wrote Justice Kagan, benefits “consumers and producers alike” by marking a product in a way that enables customers to select the goods and services they want, and those that they want to avoid.

Read more