A ‘Sweet’ Lesson in Brand Building & Trademark Protection by Jack Daniel’s

This is rather old news but its relevance is such as cannot be ignored. Jack Daniel’s (JD’s) move towards protecting its Trademark serves as a major brand building lesson all as well as one in legal practice. When the lawyers of JD, one of the world’s most popular whiskey brands spotted the cover of the book, Broken Piano for President penned by one Patrick Wensink from Louisville, it appeared suspiciously similar to JD’s popular and well recognized label (we have provided the image below from Huffingtonpost, you say for yourself).

But, instead of serving him a threatening legal notice, the Company, staying true to its brand image of sweetness and having a laid back attitude, sent him what the author regards as probably the world’s most polite cease and desist letter. Here are a few excerpts;

“We are certainly flattered by your affection for the brand, but while we appreciate the pop culture appeal of Jack Daniel’s we also have to be diligent to ensure that Jack Daniel’s trademarks are used correctly.”

The letter went on to say that since the author was a…”Louisville neighbour and a fan of the brand we simply request that you change the cover design when the book is reprinted. “

­The Company even offered to pay for the cover change if the author decided to change it sooner than stated;

“If you would be willing to change the design sooner than that (including on the digital version) we would be willing to contribute a reasonable amount towards the cost of doing so.”

The author, while refusing to accept any money from JD agreed to change the cover of his book completely and immediately.

The lawyers at JD have maintained that even though they chose to differentiate between the average infringer, the malicious counterfeiter versus the ‘misguided fan’ or someone with good intentions, they will not hesitate to take legal action if the situation so demanded.

While a lot of us would fail to resist the temptation of saying that such things wouldn’t be possible in India, the lesson lies elsewhere. JD’s move is one that carefully gauges its infringer’s bearing, position, profession and background before carrying out an offensive, this serves not only to preserve good relations with consumers but also does oodles for the brand as such. It could also serve to avoid expensive litigation in the event the publishers of Patrick Wensink decided to fight things out being irked by a threatening Cease & Desist letter.

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