Jack Daniel’s Trademark Win Over Dog Toy Nixed by Ninth Circuit

March 31, 2020, 4:53 PM

A dog toy that parodies a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle may be protected from the distillery’s trademark infringement claims by the First Amendment, the Ninth Circuit said Tuesday.

“Although surely not the equivalent of the Mona Lisa,” VIP Products LLC’s toy was an expressive work, and the district court should have balanced the distillery’s claims with free speech interests before finding infringement, the court said.

VIP sued Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc. for a finding that its “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker” dog toy, which resembles a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle, didn’t infringe the distillery’s trademarks. VIP’s toy includes “light-hearted, dog-related ...

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