Supreme Court causes stink for poop-themed dog toy, siding with Jack Daniels in trademark case

Originally published at: Supreme Court causes stink for poop-themed dog toy, siding with Jack Daniels in trademark case | Boing Boing

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If your customers cant tell the difference between a chew toy and a whiskey, you need to fire your brewer.


I was reading excerpts from the decision and I got really confused as to who they sided with, as they all pretty clearly were saying that the toy wasn’t infringing on the trademark - which, of course, wasn’t even what they were ruling on. I’m not sure why the decision included those arguments, nor why the newspaper coverage only quoted those particular bits.


It is Jack after all.


I was thinking more if your customers can’t tell the difference between a chew toy and a whiskey, you need to get them to the emergency room to be treated for alcohol poisoning stat.


I wonder if they’ll lose any business for seemingly implying that their customers are so stupid that they’ll try to drink a chew toy- and then will get so confused and upset that they hold Jack Daniels responsible and stop buying from them when it doesn’t work!

Yeah, I reluctantly read the CNN article, through the 18 pixels of my screen not filled with popups, to see if it explained anything about what actually went down, but nope, just lulz about poop jokes and what a mensch Clarence Thomas is.

Did the Supremes just surrender another piece of civil society to their corporate masters? CNN, for one, is not curious.


May be getting paranoid, but does this boing boing article seem like it was written by an AI?

It seems to me that the Supreme Court is unanimously doing more to kill comedy than us folks infected by the woke mind virus /s

NYTimes had an article that was a bunch of excerpts from the decision, and they were all “no one is going to confuse this product with Jack Daniels or believe they were made by the same company” and “people have a right to make these sorts of parodies” and about one sentence at the start where they mentioned they ruled in favor of Jack Daniels. I had to re-read the whole article a couple times, I was so sure I had misunderstood something. What they never explained was that the Supreme Court was apparently ruling on a very narrow issue that didn’t even get into whether it was a trademark violation.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything from a legal authority I trust to know what they’re talking about.

Agreed. SCOTUS was ruling only on the narrow issue of whether the Rogers test was appropriate in this case. That test is used to determine whether the use of a trademark in a creative work infringes or not. The 9th court used that test to find the dog toy doesn’t infringe on the trademark. Based on what I’m reading, SCOTUS basically decided the dog toy is a commercial product, not a creative work, and thus the finding by the 9th court is incorrect.
Now the case goes back to the lower court to have a trial based on the tests used when it’s a commercial use of a trademark. I’m not a SCOTUS scholar, but I think all the parts about how no one could possibly confuse the two products in the opinion were included to make sure the opinion was very narrow and a signal to the lower court on how SCOTUS would view the commerical use/infringement aspects.

The Reuters article was better about parsing the issue

And the SCOTUS blog distilled the opinion pretty well

Holding: When a defendant in a trademark suit uses the mark as a designation of source for its own goods or services — i.e., as a trademark — the threshold Rogers test for trademark infringement claims challenging so-called expressive works, see Rogers v. Grimaldi, does not apply, and the Lanham Act’s exclusion from liability for “[a]ny noncommerical use of a mark” does not shield parody, criticism, or commentary from a claim of trademark dilution.


Ah, that makes sense - I couldn’t understand why the court was even making those comments, much less why that was the sole focus of the reporting I was seeing.


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