Jack Daniels Is Headed To The Supreme Court Over A Dog Toy

Here's a question for you: What do whiskey and dogs have in common? You might have heard the old saying that whiskey and other alcoholic spirts can be the "hair of the dog," so named because of the urban rumor that drinking alcohol helps to cure a hangover (via CulinaryLore), but that's not the answer to today's baffling riddle. The answer, instead, is dog toys. Confused? Well, apparently to legendary whiskey baron Jack Daniel's, there is a very clear distinction between its product and a certain brand of dog toy.

As CBS News reports, Jack Daniel's is taking VIP Products, the manufacturer of the dog toy in question, to the Supreme Court over what the company views as "intellectual theft of property." The alcohol maker's argument revolves around VIP Products' parody of the famous Jack Daniel's whiskey bottle as a funny gag toy meant for your dog to chew on. The toy also includes references to "toilet humor" and puns that make light of the usual labeling on an actual Jack Daniel's bottle. One such example is "43% Poo by Vol" or "100% Smelly" (per CBS News).

It seems that Jack Daniel's doesn't find this a laughing matter and the company is seeking to ensure that what it sees as its intellectual property remains its property one way or another.

What case does Jack Daniel's have against a dog toy?

To the outsider, Jack Daniel's seems to be waging a war for very little reason and with very little ammunition. Sure, the dog toy may be considered a bit crude, but can Jack Daniel's really sue a dog toy manufacturer over the shape of a bottle?

According to Reuters, Jack Daniel's sent a cease-and-desist notice to VIP Products before, though the company appealed, claiming the toy was nothing more than a "creative work with a humorous message." Surprisingly enough, companies like Campbell's Soup and Levi Strauss & Co agree with VIP Products' appeal, with lawyers for VIP Products saying that the case is a chance to establish new standards for parodies, trademarks, and the natural rights of free speech (per Reuters). USA TODAY reports that VIP Products even told the Supreme Court in a brief that they believe Jack Daniel's ironically has no sense of humor towards its own product.

While one could argue that Jack Daniel's simply doesn't want its product to be used in a demeaning manner without its permission, one can also argue that VIP Products' only crime is mimicking the shape and theme of the famous bottle. For all we know, perhaps this will give us all something to chew on about the laws of copyright, parody, art, and humor.