Bad Spaniel's parody or trademark infringement

Internationally, the US Supreme Court's ruling on whether the Bad Spaniel's dog toys infringe on the Jack Daniel's trademark is eagerly awaited. VIP Products makes these chew toys in the shape of famous liquor bottles with similar labels. In the place of 'Jack Daniel's Old no 7' the products now depict 'Bad Spaniel's Old no 2' and '40% alcohol' has been replaced with '43% poop'.


Jack Daniel's does not wish to be associated with this and demands a ban. VIP Products argues that this is a permissible form of parody. They state that since this is a creative expression, there is no dilution and no one will think there is a relationship with Jack Daniel's. We shall wait and see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on this, especially since this is an ordinary consumer item.

We have had similar cases in Europe. There, the parody defense has little chances of success. Often the verdict is that the sale of parody objects simply constitutes trademark infringement. (see Puma vs Pudel, Harry Potter vs Harry Popper condoms and iPod vs eiPott eggcup, among others).


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?