A letter from the lawyer who defends Jack Daniel's trademarks to the author of the satire Broken Piano for President, the book cover of which is said to bear a striking resemblance to the label for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, has gone viral. The Atlantic says it “may well go down as the most polite, encouraging and empathetic cease-and-desist letter ever to be sent in the history of lawyers and humanity.” Judge for yourself:
Dear Mr. Wensick:
I am an attorney at Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. (“JDPI”) in California. JDPI is the owner of the JACK DANIEL’S trademarks (the Marks”) which have been used extensively and for many years in connection with our well-known Tennessee whiskey product and a wide variety of consumer merchandise.
It has recently come to our attention that the cover of your book Broken Piano for President, bears a design that closely mimics the style and distinctive elements of the JACK DANIEL’S trademarks. An image of the cover is set forth below for ease of reference.
We are certainly flattered by your affection for the brand, but while we can appreciate the pop culture appeal of Jack Daniel’s, we also have to be diligent to ensure that the Jack Daniel’s trademarks are used correctly. Given the brand’s popularity, it will probably come as no surprise that we come across designs like this on a regular basis. What may not be so apparent, however, is that if we allow uses like this one, we run the very real risk that our trademark will be weakened. As a fan of the brand, I’m sure that is not something you intended or would want to see happen.
As an author, you can certainly understand our position and the need to contact you. You may even have run into similar problems with your own intellectual property.
In order to resolve this matter, because you are both a Louisville “neighbor” and a fan of the brand, we simply request that you change the cover design when the book is re-printed. If you would be willing to change the design sooner than that (including the digital version), we would be willing to contribute a reasonable amount towards the costs of doing so. By taking this step, you will help us to ensure that the Jack Daniel’s brand will mean as much to future generations as it does today.
We wish you continued success with your writing and we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. A response by July 23, 2012 would be appreciated, if possible. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Senior Attorney - Trademarks