The Supreme Court is set to hear a First Amendment case brought by Jack Daniel’s whiskey against a dog chew toy company’s parody products. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey is urging the justices to reject a lower court ruling allowing VIP Products to continue manufacturing its “Bad Spaniels” line of chew toys, a parody of Jack Daniel’s famous whiskey bottle.
This case has implications for how brands control their depictions in books, media, and other formats where parodies exist. Thus, the dispute has prompted major interest from artists and major industry interest groups. One of these groups, Distilled Spirits Council, filed a brief urging the justices to side with Jack Daniel’s against VIP Products.
The Jack Daniel’s complaint challenges the Supreme Court precedent known as the “Rogers test,” which was created in a 1989 case known as Rogers v. Grimaldi, and established a higher standard for trademark infringement for expressive work. Some of VIP Products’ toy designs include swapping the phrase “Old No. 7” with potty humor such as “the Old No. 2, on your Tennessee Carpet.”
VIP Products counters that Jack Daniel’s has no evidence that customers were misled about the parody products they are purchasing and that removing the 32-year-old legal test would threaten free speech.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is expected to take a moderate approach and ask the justices to send the case to lower courts.
The decision in this case is expected to be made before the end of June and could have an impact on the extent of fair use in creative and journalistic works.
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