Being devoted fans of civility rather than rudeness, we couldn’t help but sit up and take note when we learned of a cease-and-desist letter from Jack Daniel’s – that Jack Daniel’s. The cover of the book “Broken Piano for President,” by Peter Wensink is a dead ringer for the distinctive Jack Daniel’s label. In such as case most brands would send their legal team into action to take care of the infringement. And in most cases they’re within their rights to do so. Remember when the National Pork Board sent a letter to ThinkGeek for its fictitious ad for unicorn meat – the other white meat? However, unlike the Pork Board and others who might have a legitimate beef regarding copyright infringement, Jack Daniel’s took a completely different route.
“We are certainly flattered by your affection for the brand, but while we can appreciate the pop culture appeal of Jack Daniel’s, we also have to be diligent to ensure that the Jack Daniel’s trademarks are used correctly. Given the brand’s popularity, it will probably come as no surprise that we come across designs like this on a regular basis. What may not be so apparent, however, is that if we allow uses like this one, we run the very real risk that our trademark will be weakened. As a fan of the brand, I’m sure that’s not something you intended or would want to see happen.” The letter then asked the author to change the cover at the next reprinting. But if the author chooses to reprint sooner, Jack Daniel’s would contribute “a reasonable amount” to the costs. Truly amazing.
As it turns out Jack Daniel’s lawyers deal with numerous copyright infringements annually. The difference is that they look at these incidents on a case by case basis. They attempt to differentiate between the “innocent infringer” or “misguided fan,” and the blatant copyright infringement where someone is trying to capitalize on Jack Daniel’s brand name. As they see it, there is currently a “backlash toward intellectual property owners.” Consequently, they try to walk softly at first but they’re prepared to get out the big sticks later. “You have to be prepared to ramp things up if the subjects ignore you,” they said. In this case the “subject” did not ignore and everyone is now living happily ever after – allegedly.