Jack Daniels Is Suing (Weirdly) A Dog Toy Company

Jack Daniels has been a recognizable whiskey brand on the shelves of most liquor stores in more than 170 countries. Establishing its distillery in 1866, the iconic black label of the Tennessee whiskey brand and its unique bottle shape make it stand out from the competition. With such a rich history, it's no wonder that the higher-ups of the corporation may seem ultra-protective of their brand, and want to ensure that no other entity tries to profit off of their namesake.

Which brings us to the latest dispute between Jack Daniels and a certain dog toy company with a product that parodies the whiskey giant. In a case that has reached the Supreme Court, Jack Daniel's Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC has many layers to it that touch on the power of trademarks and first amendment rights — and how far you can push the two. For a little background, the dog toy company released an array of "Silly Squeakers” play toys that parody a wide range of major alcohol brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Heineken, and Corona or as the dog toy company calls them, "Blue Cats Trippin," "Heinie Sniff'n," and "Cataroma." However, it's their take on Jack Daniels, which they call "Bad Spaniels," that the whiskey company has a major problem with.

What's the beef between Jack Daniel's and this particular dog toy

In a case that reached the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Jack Daniel's is looking to put a stop to the VIP Product line of "Bad Spaniels" dog toys. The toys spoof the whiskey brand and goes as far as to copy the bottle shape and label, twisting its "Old No. 7" and "Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey" to phrases that lean more toward potty humor. At the heart of the dispute is Jack Daniel's not wanting its brand to be, "confused or associating its fine whiskey with dog poop," according to the brand's attorney Lisa Blatt (via BBC News). However, VIP Products counters that the spirit brand is infringing on its first amendment rights, and trying to quash its ability to poke fun at the iconic alcohol brand. Bennett Cooper, the attorney for VIP Products, wrote in a court filing that, "The Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker toy is indisputably a good-faith (and successful) parody."

At its base, VIP Products claims that its dog toys are simply a joke based on Jack Daniel's and are in no way meant to be an actual competitor in the marketplace. Although a lower court ruled in favor of the dog toy company (per The New Republic), Jack Daniel's Properties disagrees, and they are hoping to have the Supreme Court reach a ruling by June.