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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled unanimously that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey is being used in a legal battle with VIP Products, a dog toy maker that makes “Bad Spaniels” toys that parody Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey. supported.
Judge Elena Kagan announced the decision on Thursday and had a great time. The crowd burst into laughter as she read her opinion paper and held up a chewy toy bottle of Bad Spaniels that looked almost like a bottle of whiskey. At another point, she referred to a trademark lawsuit involving Aqua’s hit “Barbie Girl,” saying, “I’m a blonde bimbo in a fantasy world.”
Humor aside, the High Court overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss Jack Daniel’s challenge on the grounds that it violated the satire protections of the First Amendment.
The Bad Spaniel toy mimics the Jack Daniel’s bottle, but with a picture of a spaniel on it, and instead of the words promising 40% alcohol on the Jack bottle, the Bad Spaniel has a poop capacity. We promise 43% and 100% smell. ”
But the Supreme Court was no fun. The main reason companies want and get trademark protection, the report said, is to identify the origin of a product, much like Nike’s Swoosh, which distinguishes a trademarked product from other similar products. Justice Kagan wrote that trademarks benefit “both consumers and producers” by marking products so that customers can choose which goods and services they want and which they avoid.
Additionally, as she observed, registering a trademark allows the trademark owner to sue if others use the mark for their own purposes. In litigation, the mark owner must demonstrate the likelihood of confusion, meaning that consumers may confuse the infringing product with the genuine product. Alternatively, in this case, the purchaser of the Bad Spaniel chewy dog toy may assume that it is endorsed by the Jack Daniel’s Company.
Bottom line: Toucourt said Jack Daniels deserves a trial to determine if Bad Spaniels are really confusing consumers. Judge Kagan said it was one thing when toy maker Mattel sued the band over the song “Barbie Girl,” which contained lyrics such as “life in plastic is wonderful.” She said the Barbie doll’s name does not identify a source.
“Consumers are just like some people hear Janis Joplin’s ‘Oh Lord, will you buy me a Mercedes-Benz’ croon and think Joplin and the automaker have formed a joint venture. As such, you wouldn’t believe the song was produced by Mattel.
But in this case, the Bad Spaniels toy maker is using someone else’s trademark, here Jack Daniel’s, to market its products, she said. So the question is whether consumers think they allow the use of Jack Daniel’s. Or, as Jack Daniel’s outlines it, “Jack Daniel appreciates a good joke more than anyone. I don’t want to be associated with dog poop.” If you can prove this confusion, you have a good chance of winning in court. Unless, of course, the Bad Spaniel settles out of court.
On Thursday, in an unrelated but equally important lawsuit, the Superior Court ruled in favor of nursing home patient Golgi Talevski with dementia, whose family alleges abuse, brought the state of Indiana to court. filed the lawsuit on behalf of the county public health department of The vote was 7 to 2.
The Talevsky family sued under a law of 1871 that gave individuals the right to sue to enforce federally protected rights. Tarevsky’s wife claimed that the psychotropic drug use at the nursing home had left her husband so weak that he could not walk, and that the facility had repeatedly tried to move him out of the nursing home. The family alleged that the Valparaíso Care and Rehabilitation Facility violated Talevsky’s rights as a nursing home resident under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act is a law that establishes the minimum standards of care that nursing homes must comply with in order to receive federal Medicaid funding.
Nursing homes, their operators and local authorities argued that residents of nursing homes had no right to file private lawsuits and enforce the law. But Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, writing to the court, said the federal Nursing Home Reform Act clearly gives nursing home residents and their families the right to sue as individuals.
The decision preserved the right of millions of nursing home residents and their families to file claims in court. Jackson was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justices Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito dissented.
Meganrata Gupta contributed to this article.