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| 1 minute read

Jack Daniel's Dog Toy Case Heard at SCOTUS

The Jack Daniel's Dog Toy case - also known as Jack Daniel’s Properties Incorporated v. VIP Products LLC - made its way to the Supreme Court this week where oral arguments were heard. The case centers around a dog toy company (VIP Products LLC) who makes silly squeaker toys that riff on well-known trademarks in the beverage industry, like Jack Daniel's.  

See some examples here:

But, the main toy at issue in this case is this one:

After moving through the district court and the Ninth Circuit, the high court is now tasked with reviewing two questions: (1) whether the Lanham Act's likelihood of confusion analysis or the First Amendment test applies here and (2) whether using another's trademark in a humorous way on a commercial product is a noncommercial use that bars dilution by tarnishment. This case will have far-reaching implications for both trademark and First Amendment jurisprudence. 

To kickstart the oral arguments, counsel for Jack Daniel’s stated, “This case involves a dog toy that copies Jack Daniel’s trademark and trade dress and associates its whiskey with dog poop.” And with that - the case's final hurdle of Supreme Court arguments began! We'll be watching this one closely and be ready to implement it's holdings when considering enforcement actions in the future. 

The Bad Spaniels case went before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, after the nation’s highest court agreed in November to take on the case, in which Jack Daniel’s has accused VIP Products of trademark infringement in connection with the design of a dog toy that resembles a bottle of its Old No. 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey. The parties’ day in court comes on the heels of the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit holding in March 2020 that the squeaky dog toy is an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection.


intellectual property, trademark, trademark law, supreme court, first amendment, ip