Jack Daniels turns to Supreme Court over dog toy dispute

Jack Daniels barked at the Supreme Court to once again take up its dispute with the maker of a dog chew toy for infringing on the whiskey company’s trademark.

At issue is VIP Products’ squeaky, tongue-in-cheek copy of the famous whiskey maker’s bottle called “Bad Spaniels,” which sells for $16.49 and says in small print that it’s “43% poo By Vol.” and “100% Smelly.” 

The ruff replica is part of VIP Products‘ line of “Silly Squeakers,” which also poke fun at other alcohol companies — including “Stella Arpaw,” a swipe at beermaker Stella Artois, and “HeineSniff’n,” which shows a dog sniffing another mutt’s rear end on a toy meant to mimic a Heieneken beer bottle. 

After the company began selling its Bad Spaniels toy in 2014, Jack Daniel’s told the company to stop, but VIP went to court to be allowed to continue to sell its product. Jack Daniel’s won the first round in court but lost an appeal. The case reached the Supreme Court last year, but the justices didn’t bite.

VIP claims that Jack Daniels’ owner, Louisville, Ky-based Brown-Forman Corp., has “waged war” against the company and can’t take a joke, the company wrote the high court.

Toy maker, VIP Products, was first sued by Jack Daniels in 2014.
Silly Squeakers

Brown-Forman’s lawyer, Lisa Blatt, said the toy is a flagrant violation of its trademark and that the toy is “taking advantage of Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill.”

 In 2008, a lower court stopped the company from selling its Budweiser toy, ButtWiper.

The Supreme Court has been urged by other major corporations, including Levi Strauss and Campbell Soup, to rule on a proliferation of trademark infringement cases.

Other major consumer brands that have been the butt of VIP Products’ jokes could be watching this case, as the company pokes fun of Coke with its “Canine Cola” red can toy, and Guinness beer with its “Pissness” bottle toy showing a dog lifting his leg on a fire hydrant.

And Arizona-based VIP Products isn’t the only dog toy company that’s been taken to court over its sense of humor.

In 2007, Louis Vuitton sued Haute Diggity Dog over its “Chewy Vuiton” plush purse dog toys – and lost, according to an AP report.