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Business lawsuit asks Supreme Court to review the limits of parody and freedom of expression

Nashville, TN – There is a long history in the American legal system of protection of creative works and products that are parodies. These kinds of products and works are generally protected as long as they are obviously distinct from the original. However, a recent lawsuit is causing review and the possibility of application of a different standard in these situations. Experienced business attorneys deal with these kinds of issues regularly, and they can provide advice to companies who have questions. 

Yahoo News reported on a business lawsuit that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which involves popular Tennessee based liquor brand Jack Daniel’s and a dog toy that is meant to look like their bottles [1].

Dog toy was created to look like and parody Jack Daniel’s whiskey

The subject matter of the case is whether the Phoenix based business that created the parody dog toy is an infringement on Jack Daniel’s protected trademark, or whether the type of parody contained in the product is protected under free speech through the First Amendment. The main concern of the court is whether a precedent set in this case would change current rules related to parodies and freedom of expression, which have generally helped businesses avoid the time and money associated with litigation in cases where a product is clearly meant to be a parody and not a comparable alternative to the original item. 

While the bottle in question on the dog toy in this case does have a similar design to the original trademarked Tennessee whiskey, it is also covered with various joking phrases about dogs that bare little resemblance to anything actually printed on Jack Daniel’s. Lower courts had already ruled in favor of the dog toy company, mostly due to the precedent that the parody product would not mislead consumers. It may be difficult for counsel for Jack Daniel’s to convince the justices that there is any possibility of confusion of a dog chew toy with an alcoholic beverage just because the toy has a similar label printed on it. A related issue before the court is whether the previous protections for these kinds of expressive works should be scrapped in favor of a different standard. Some lawyers have argued that a more strict standard used in trademark infringement cases should be applied in all such parody lawsuits, as they claim the specifics of marketplace confusion would be relevant. 

Business attorneys in Nashville

The Law Office of George R. Fusner can help anyone with questions for a business lawyer. Their attorneys are experienced in various kinds of legal matters related to the operation of a company. 

USAttorneys.com is a service that connects people with lawyers anywhere in the country. They can provide more info at 800-672-3103

Firm contact info:

The Law Office of George R. Fusner

7104 Peach Court, Brentwood TN 37027





  1. https://news.yahoo.com/jack-daniels-trademark-fight-over-100235895.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall
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