Jack Daniel’s is fighting hard to protect its iconic, all-American image against purported copycats. The famous Tennessee whiskey brand filed a lengthy complaint against Dynasty Spirits (“Dynasty”) and Buffalo Bayou Distilleries (“Buffalo Bayou”), two Texas distilleries, alleging trademark and trade dress infringement and dilution. Dynasty is responsible for the distilling and marketing of the accused whiskey, and Buffalo Bayou is responsible for the product’s labeling, packaging, and shipping.
At the center of Jack Daniel’s complaint is Dynasty’s bottle design, which Jack Daniel’s claims illegally replicates its own square bottle with angled shoulders, beveled corners, and ribbed neck. Dynasty’s bottle is also labeled with arguably similar black-and-white color scheme, arched lettering, and script font. Jack Daniel’s asserts that the accused whiskey creates a similar impression in the marketplace to Jack Daniel’s whiskey, leading consumers to believe that the two products are affiliated or sponsored by a common source. The complaint alleges that due to poor reviews of the taste and quality of Dynasty’s whiskey, such belief has and will continue to impair the Jack Daniel’s brand.
Takeaway: Trademark and trade dress lawsuits are common. New brands and startups should be aware that existing brands will likely be aggressive in protecting their IP.