The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sided with Jack Daniel’s in a trademark dispute against dog toy maker Bad Spaniel.
The issue: Jack Daniel’s argued that the parody dog toy, mimicking its whiskey bottle design, infringed on its trademark rights.
* The court decided that the use of a mark to parody or comment on another’s products does not classify as noncommercial use.
Unanimous decision: Justice Elena Kagan clarified that the opinion is narrow, and wrote for the court, ~~”We hold only that it is not appropriate when the accused infringer has used a trademark to designate the source of its own goods.”~~
* This means the ruling does not receive special First Amendment protection.
Implications: The decision upholds Jack Daniel’s trademark rights and sets a precedent for other companies trying to protect their brand from parody products.
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