These days, innovation is everywhere as the Texas whiskey market is exploding. In the spirits world, though, the parent company of the Jack Daniel's brand is protecting their prestigious trademarks by filing an infringement lawsuit against two Texas-based spirit companies. Dynasty Spirits, based in Dallas, is the defendant in the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court of California by the Brown-Forman Corporation. Gulf Coast Distillers, based in Houston, The Spirits Business reports, is responsible for the way the whiskey was labelled, packaged, and shipped.
The Spirits Business reports that Dynasty Spirits is the defendant in the case due to the "Accused Trade Dress" as the whiskey maker. The brand distilled, advertised, and marketed Lonehand Whiskey, the spirit in question, while partners Buffalo Bayou Distilleries labelled, packaged, and shipped the product. There are a few Jack Daniel's trademark infringement examples, per the The Spirits Business,
- the three-dimensional configuration of a square bottle container,
- the phrases, 'Old No. 7', 'Jack Daniel's', 'Tennessee whiskey', and 'sour mash whiskey',
- the arched lettering on the label,
- and the square bottle, angled shoulders, ribbed neck, black label, black cap, and black neck wrap closure.
Brown-Forman Corp. argues that the "iconic' trade dress" was sold long before the defendant launched Lonehand Whiskey. Forbes confirmed that the iconic square bottle is registered as US trademark number 4,106,178. The phrases on the bottle listed above are also trademarked under number 4,106,179.
The Lonehand Whiskey bottle is eerily similar to the original Jack Daniel's design, and does indeed use the same phrasing that is pointed out in the above list of trademark concerns. This isn't the only brand involved in the complaint, as several others were implicated in the infringement of federally registered trademarks.
At root of the lawsuit, however, is the fact that Brown-Forman argues that the Lonehand Whiskey brand has received "highly critical customer reviews," per The Spirits Business, and therefore has impaired the quality of the Jack Daniel's trade dress on store shelves everywhere. These negative reviews has caused, in Brown-Forman's eyes, irreparable harm to the Jack Daniel's brand by confusing consumers with the distinctive quality of the labels. Brown-Forman believes this is an intentional business strategy.
The lawsuit even cites that the liquor in question is of inferior quality after reviewing the customer reviews. Brown-Forman, per Forbes, "wants the accused companies to pay injunctive relief and triple damages, including all legal costs. The defendants have yet to reply to the complaint."