Home » Covers, Trademark » Don’t Use the Jack Daniels Label to Design Your Book Cover

Don’t Use the Jack Daniels Label to Design Your Book Cover

23 July 2012

From Mashable:

When Patrick Wensink was commissioning the cover for his book, Broken Piano For President, he probably wasn’t expecting a cease-and-desist letter from Jack Daniel’s Properties — the owner of the Jack Daniel’s trademarks.

. . . .

In what might just be the nicest cease-and-desist letter we’ve ever seen, the people at Jack Daniel’s Properties not only politely explained the situation to Wensink, the company even offered to help pay for the cost of designing a new cover.

. . . .

Link to the rest at Mashable

Covers, Trademark

41 Comments to “Don’t Use the Jack Daniels Label to Design Your Book Cover”

  1. That is a nice letter! I think we should all support Jack Daniels and raise a toast. Cheers! 🙂

    Seriously,I understand their position and they could have been very cold and business like, but instead, they reached out in a very personable way and their offer to help pay costs is above and beyond. Kudos to Jack Daniels.

  2. Now that is the way to handle a cease and desist letter. You defuse the possibility of looking like a bully and, let’s face it, you make the author in question look like an unreasonable jerk if he refuses while allowing him a face-saving way of resolving the situation. Jack Daniels Legal and PR departments, FTW. [I don’t drink whiskey, but even I recognize that label…]

  3. Now I love JD even more. Heh.

    I especially like that they looked at it from the author’s perspective and even offered to cover the cost of a new design. Very cool!

  4. Help me avoid the same fate, take my poll for your favorite cover art Which cover is best?

    • I don’t think “favorite” will help you avoid “trade dress violation” unless you have trademark lawyers voting. And maybe not even then. -_-

  5. Wow. What a way to combine legal C&D with effective copy (writing meant to produce a response)! Nicely done.

  6. That was just so gosh-darn nice of them. That’s Southern friendliness for you.

    Or just them being mellowed out up at corporate from being buzzed all day.

  7. And I’m happy to say that I was able to order one of the last print copies available in Amazon’s inventory. It should arrive tomorrow.

  8. Lol.

    Looks like an effective letter. Having said that, I wonder if they have a leg to stand on legally, since these are very different properties ( a whiskey vs a book)

    • I bet Jack Daniels would win in court. PG, I can’t think of the name for it, but aren’t logos covered under something else that is even stricter than copyright? For instance, if I put a big yellow M on my book, especially if the cover was red and the print was white, McDonald’s would send me a C&D–even though my last name is McDonald.

      • Trademark is the word you are looking for…

        • I believe “trade dress” is actually the term that applies. But a lawyer such as PG might be able to correct me on that.

    • I thought of that, too. I think that the cover may make people think there’s a connection or that the book is endorsed by the company or is an official product. A client of mine is in soft release with an ebook about a product and, to avoid any kind of infringement issues, had to remove the company’s logo from his cover and make explicit statements that the company had no involvement in the production of the book.

    • Trademark and trade dress are not like copyright. With copyright, you can ignore a hundred infringements and then go after one infringing property with as strong a case as ever.

      With trademark and trade dress, the first time a violation comes to your attention and you don’t fight it, and establish a track record of having fought seriously, you have legally weakened your case for the next time. The only way to keep a trademark is to fight, and create a record of that fight, to show that you defend your property every time you see a misappropriation.

      • Only true in the U.S., as far as I know; and the biggest idiocy in U.S. intellectual property law.

        I can tell you, for instance, that Aspirin is still a legal trademark in Canada, and Bayer is under no obligation to send threatening letters (which in any case they could not enforce) to people who use the name as if it were a common noun. However, anyone selling the same active ingredient in another product must call it by its generic name.

  9. It’s currently ranked #48 in books. I guess the publicity hasn’t hurt him much.

  10. What a nice letter. That is the kind of attitude that is great PR rather than the scorched earth policy you find with so many companies.

  11. That’s brilliant! If I can’t afford a cover for my next novel, I will simply design one exactly like a whiskey bottle and then the company will pay for a new cover for me!

    :::tongue firmly in cheek::::

  12. Now, I’m an even bigger fan of Jack Daniels.

  13. I always thought it was common practice for trademark owners to send polite letters to authors. Eg Kimberly Clark always sent very un-threatening letters to authors who used ‘kleenex’ begging them nicely to say ’tissue’ in future works.

    Writers are one group of people whom trademark owners don’t necessarily want to p*ss off.

    • Cease and desist letters vary, but, in my experience, most are pretty forceful.

      Failure to aggressively police trademark infringement can result in the loss of protection for the trademark. Some trademarks (think Coca-Cola or Nike or some of the Disney marks) are worth billions and their owners want counsel to be very aggressive in protecting them.

      • Can you cease and desist (and win) with a fictional mention of a product that isn’t libelous? The Kleenex issue is different from how the Jack Daniels trademark was used in this case. The book is marketing, through cover treatment, by using a likeness of a registered trademark. Kimberly Clark is trying to prevent Kleenex from suffering the fate of Asprin.

        Asprin (and Heroin, amusingly) were registered trademarks of Bayer whose use became so common that they lost their “distinctiveness”, another requirement of having a registered trademark, to the point where they lost their trademark. Obviously Kimberly Clark wants to prevent this.

        • Aspirin is still trademarked to Bayer in Germany, hence generic Aspirin is always called something else (A** is to be the most common generic Aspirin brand), while asking for Aspirin gets you Bayer’s. But then our trademark law is different from the US’s and a brandname becoming a synonym for a whole class of products does not loose you your trademark.

          Not sure if Heroin (originally so called because it made you feel heroic, when you took it) is still trademarked by Bayer, but then Bayer would prefer to forget it.

        • “… having a registered trademark, to the point where they lost their trademark.”

          Seems like this is at least partly the concern of the Jack Daniels people and the point of their letter: “By taking this step you will help us ensure that the Jack Daniels brand will mean as much to future generations as it does today.”

          Not exactly like the Kleenex situation, but pretty similar. It’s not as if Jack Daniels is concerned with trademark confusion, i.e. someone buying the book thinking they are getting a bottle of the bourbon.

  14. I’ve never tried Jack Daniels–now I might. 🙂 Nice to see good PR emanating from every department in a large company and not just Marketing. Well done, JD.

  15. What a civilized way to resolve an issue! Too bad another recent copyright issue had to be so pugilistic for the poor author: http://bit.ly/OUS1ee Thanks to the author, Roni Loren, for sharing her experience on her blog, as a lesson for us all. This could have far reaching implications for all social media, including FB and Pinterest, as well as all of our blogs. I’d be interested in hearing Passive Guy’s take on it.

  16. Whoops, here is the link that works (I think) … http://bit.ly/MT4lwb

  17. JD is a lovely drink and has some very smart people working for it, obviously.

    How to create good publicity by enforcing your legal rights.

  18. Good folks. Good whiskey. Good neighbors. And here’s some JD trivia. Moore County, TN, the home of the JD Distillery is a dry county. You can make whiskey there, but you can’t legally sell it. It is available in the distillery store in commemorative bottles. You’re buying the bottle you see, the whiskey’s free.

    • It’s a wonderfully peaceful place, for a factory. “Here’s the farm, here’s the lawn, here’s the offices, here’s the distillery….”

      However, you will run into those unique little microorganism critters that live around all distilleries eating the vaporous goodies in the air, so don’t wear white and then touch walls and your clothes.

  19. I think that is a very sensible cease and desist letter. It’s good to see a brand consider to be cooperative rather than reactionary.

  20. My stomach turns over – (and I’ve got an awful lot of stomach to turn) – at how many times I’ve seen CEASE AND DESIST letters beating up the little guy – but this is really great.

    The legal department at Jack Daniels deserve some serious props for handling this situation so properly. It’s great to see them approaching it with such sensitivity.

    Maybe they’ve heard all of the propoganda about bourbon-sipping writers…

  21. Nobody expects a polite cease-and-desist letter!! Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear. Surprise, fear, and ruthless efficiency… OK, 3 weapons.

    Biggles! Poke her with… the soft pillow!

  22. Jennifer Rakestraw

    What makes this so refreshing is the fact that everything these days seems to be so self -serving at the get go and this was not. People today tend to be confrontive first. JD represents how we used to be …how nice …
    Jennifer R.

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