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Jack Daniels Shows How To Write a Cease and Desist Letter 402

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-complies-with-honey dept.
NormalVisual writes "When the Jack Daniels distillery recently became aware of a book whose cover they felt substantially infringed their trademark, they didn't go into instant 'Terminator mode' — instead, they wrote a very thoughtful, civil letter to the infringing party, and even offered to help defray the costs of coming into compliance. I believe plenty of other companies (and many in the tech world) could use this as an example of how *not* to alienate people and come off looking like a bunch of greedy jerks."
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Jack Daniels Shows How To Write a Cease and Desist Letter

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  • Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwise2112 (648849) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:41AM (#40735693)
    That's classy.
    Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?
    • One Word (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zblack_eagle (971870) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:42AM (#40735705)

      Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

      Sociopaths

    • Re:Classy (Score:5, Funny)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:43AM (#40735713)

      I would like to propose new legislation in which every time you file a lawsuit for patent, copyright or trademark infringement, you must send a bottle of a nice bourbon to the defendant.

    • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:45AM (#40735731)

      That's classy.
      Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

      It's not profitable (or at least it is not immediately obvious why doing so would be profitable).

      • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:50AM (#40735785) Journal

        That's classy. Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

        It's not profitable (or at least it is not immediately obvious why doing so would be profitable).

        Not profitable? Do you know how many "That's so classy I'm going to buy a bottle just to support them" messages I've read on various blogs? It's not just a cease and desist letter; it is an advertising coup.

        • Sure, but Jack Daniels has worked for decades to build that image (probably to overcome the "outlaw redneck" image that comes to mind); how would a company like Microsoft pull this off?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by houstonbofh (602064)

            Sure, but Jack Daniels has worked for decades to build that image (probably to overcome the "outlaw redneck" image that comes to mind); how would a company like Microsoft pull this off?

            Actually, if Microsoft did this it would be even more newsworthy. And they can use all the good will they can get.

            • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

              by rezalas (1227518) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:28AM (#40736215)
              Microsoft provides free updates to their OS even if you're using a copy they know is pirated. I'd say that has a bit of good will to it, especially since most people just get a "you may be a victim of piracy" warning and a black desktop background. When it comes to being polite to people who pirate or infringe on your work, MS isn't exactly slashing throats.
              • by IrquiM (471313)
                I've seen so many people claiming that MS tags their legal software as pirated that I think MS is just doing this to avoid the problems.
                • Re:Classy (Score:5, Interesting)

                  by sumdumass (711423) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:39PM (#40737847) Journal

                  I've seen about a dozen OEM versions of XP become tagged as pirated for no apparent reason at all outside a windows update. In all cases, after about 2 or 3 hours of tracking the original supplier of the software down, I would have to wait 24 hours to get a new product number/key then another day or two to get the license sticker.

                  In one situation, I lost an account and had to hire a lawyer to stop one confused and irate business lady from going around telling people that I ripped her off by billing for the operating system then installed pirated software instead. Her defense was that Microsoft told her I did that.

        • Re:Classy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by kilfarsnar (561956) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:56AM (#40735863)

          That's classy. Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

          It's not profitable (or at least it is not immediately obvious why doing so would be profitable).

          Not profitable? Do you know how many "That's so classy I'm going to buy a bottle just to support them" messages I've read on various blogs? It's not just a cease and desist letter; it is an advertising coup.

          Indeed, this is a great example of garnering a positive public image by actually being positive. It's too bad I don't really like their whiskey, or I'd be sure to buy a bottle myself.

        • Re:Classy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:40PM (#40737869)
          It is the Anti-Streisand.
        • by Beerdood (1451859)
          True, this is certainly helping their image, but the reasons are different that what's expected. Whoever received that cease and desist letter didn't have to post the letter from JD, but they did (I really doubt JD expected this kind of response and feedback). If it's profitable because of positive feedback from the response of this letter (because people choose to buy JD now after reading this) then it's unintentional, which is the noticeable difference here. The motives appear to be something resemblin
        • Re:Classy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Blue23 (197186) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:54PM (#40740771) Homepage

          Not profitable? Do you know how many "That's so classy I'm going to buy a bottle just to support them" messages I've read on various blogs? It's not just a cease and desist letter; it is an advertising coup.

          Someone at Jack Daniel's has heard of the Streisand Effect, and is doing a good understanding what it means.

          Is this good business sense? Abso-freaking-lutely. For exactly the reasons you state. They couldn't pay for a marketing campaign that would generate this much good will this quick. Certainly if they tried it would be orders of magnitude more than offering to help him design a new cover.

          I'm not saying they're doing it manipulatively. I'm saying it's very possible for a corporation to act well and in doing so still "enhance shareholder value" or whatever.

          Cheers, good job JD! You show class.

      • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:51AM (#40735787)

        It's not profitable (or at least it is not immediately obvious why doing so would be profitable).

        Well... not sure how they're advertising their product in the states, but here in Canada their current ad campaign is all about their history, and trying to set themselves up as a friend of the family. The publicity that a "fuck off and die" C&D letter could create has the potential destroy that ad campaign.

        The good will and good publicity that this letter has created, on the other hand, almost certainly helps the image they're trying to foster for their product.

        • Re:Classy (Score:5, Interesting)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:05AM (#40735995)
          Yes, but the question was why other companies are not like this, and the answer is that for most companies, it is not clear that doing this would be competitive or profitable. Jack Daniels has been working very hard to make themselves seem classy, because they want to compete with high end bourbon and scotch brands (I don't think they have a chance if they continue to make whiskey their traditional way). Most companies are not marketing themselves as "classy," because it would not be profitable for them to do so in the first place -- who wants a "classy lawnmower" or a "classy backhoe?"
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's classy.

        Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

        It's not profitable (or at least it is not immediately obvious why doing so would be profitable).

        The profitability comes from not having to pay their attorneys to sue someone. Lawyers are expensive, probably moreso than graphic designers.

        • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@@@carpanet...net> on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:06AM (#40736009) Homepage

          I was just thinking same thing from the opposite direction.

          Most C&D letters are written by the lawyers. What incentive does a lawyer have to be non-combatitive?

          If he is combatative it makes him look good to the people he is representing, and doesn't risk having them question whether he is really doing his job. If he is non-combatative, like this, then that doesn't make more work for him either.

          If it leads to a huge battle, the company isn't going to blame the lawyer for being to combative, since he is just fighting for them. If it looks soft or like it isn't going to be effective, they are going to blame him.

          Its true, that on a deeper analsys this is probably the better way to go... that doesn't mean that every cog in the wheel making decisions is making that deeper analsys. When the legal department gets notice of infingement, they have one hammer, and you know what that tends to make all problems look like.

          • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:47AM (#40736433) Homepage

            What incentive does a lawyer have to be non-combatitive?

            Preserving the company's brand, and likely closing down the issue quickly and efficiently, potentially even winning an advocate of the brand in the process?

            If it leads to a huge battle, the company isn't going to blame the lawyer for being to combative, since he is just fighting for them.

            If you've got a lawyer who can only litigate, I'd have thought you have a liability on your hands — far better someone who can assess the commercial implications along with the law, and come up with a sensible plan. If you want to reach a conclusion quickly and easily, litigation is perhaps the worst, and most expensive, way to go.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        'not immediately obvious' is right. It's kind of like how lawyers have been telling us, for decades, 'don't apologize, it might open you up to liability in a lawsuit!!!'. When they finally do a study, they find that apologizing, especially with an honest attempt to make it right, virtually eliminates lawsuits, and even if it goes to trial, the apology and offer of (reasponable) compensation tends to keep the awards down.

        Of course, my point would be - why would it be in a lawyer's best interest to reduce t

    • Re:Classy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by localman57 (1340533) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:52AM (#40735803)

      That's classy. Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

      It may well be the entire industry that acts that way. A couple of years ago I was at a tasting event with the either Grandson or Great Grandson of Jim Beam, and he was the same way. He had great things to say about all of his Kentucky competitors' products. I think their view of things is to promote Kentucky Burbon, not just their own label. A rising tide lifts all ships kind of thing.

    • Re:Classy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by habig (12787) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:53AM (#40735811) Homepage

      Why can't more companies act this way towards one another?

      A cynical take on why lawyers don't usually act like this: the purpose of law and lawyers is to resolve conflicts. By doing so in a jerky way, they ensure more future conflicts, ergo, job security.

      That said, these guys resolved this conflict in the best way possible, kudos to them: hope they don't get disbarred for it or anything!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Too many people grew up watching Apple sue everybody, never thinking Apple was doing it wrong.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Trademarks are supposed to prevent consumers from being confused as to the source of a product. There is no chance someone who is looking to buy a bottle of whiskey is going to be duped into buying a book instead. This supposedly 'classy' move is nothing more than an attempt to sweet-talk the guy into changing something that no court would order him to change.

  • by geogob (569250) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:42AM (#40735699)

    Their lawyers must be drunk or something...

  • by din0 (2608929) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:43AM (#40735711)
    With a tip of the hat, a please and thank you --A Southerner
  • Win/win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jesrad (716567) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:55AM (#40735839) Journal

    JD's gets free publicity, and strengthens the brand by setting a nice example and by turning Wensik's book's first edition into a collector for its own whiskey fans, while the author enjoys greater exposition for his book, and sells out the first edition as a collector item. The general public loses nothing, some of us can even enjoy an unexpected collectible.

    This really is the nicer way to handle brand infringement.

  • addedbytes.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zerro (1820876) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:55AM (#40735841)
    I recall something similar occurring to ilovejackdaniels.com which was a language cheat sheet site, which is now addedbytes.com: http://www.addedbytes.com/blog/what-happened-to-ilovejackdaniels-dot-com [addedbytes.com]
  • They wrote it while testing their own product.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:56AM (#40735865)

    Please tell me the author had as much decency as Jack Daniels and did the right thing by responding with a simple statement along the lines of

    "done".

  • I find that a little hard to believe.

  • by azalin (67640) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:59AM (#40735909)
    $faith_in_humanity++;
  • by namgge (777284) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:00AM (#40735915)

    The Jack Daniel's company's gracious reaction to the abuse of their trade mark is more than the book's publisher deserved. Deliberately ripping-off another company's IPR for a book jacket is not the behaviour of a reputable publisher.

    My experience, however, is that book-publishers are meticulous to the point of obsession about ensuring they have all the necessary rights for the cover artwork in place before going to press. This does make me wonder whether this incident is actually a publicity stunt...

  • Parody (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:10AM (#40736045) Journal

    Perhaps this could be called parody. Lots of times people take a famous logo and tweak it for a joke or comment. eg the Coke logo that says "Cocaine".
    Generally that's called fair use.

    • by bbbaldie (935205) on Monday July 23, 2012 @11:03AM (#40736651) Homepage
      They stomped all over a t-shirt manufacturer a few years back over "Little Doobie" shirts.

      And as an ex-employee who was unceremoniously downsized, may I say how good it feels to get "Little Doobie" back out there where Google can find it. The self-righteous tards would like nothing better than to have that ugly little incident forgotten. ;-)

      Please mod up and help my cause?

    • eg the Coke logo that says "Cocaine".

      I always wonder how many people wearing that shirt realise why the name sounds so much like "cocaine".

    • by sorak (246725)

      Perhaps this could be called parody. Lots of times people take a famous logo and tweak it for a joke or comment. eg the Coke logo that says "Cocaine".
      Generally that's called fair use.

      Exactly. Jack Daniels is being nice to this guy because they don't have a leg to stand on. They can either threaten to sue and hope that the legal costs intimidate the publisher into submission, or try to work with the other guy.

  • by forand (530402) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:39AM (#40736343) Homepage
    This is a great article certainly worth having on the front page of Slashdot. However, the complete lack of editorial oversight is infuriating. The sole link in this article is to Mashable, which cites BoingBoing [boingboing.net], which sites the webpage for the book [brokenpian...sident.com]. I simply clicked through those citation and found the primary source. Why didn't the Slashdot editor do this? To push traffic to Mashable? We should have the primary source as the primary reference. If the discussion on the other sites is worth it then those can be the focus of the article. Otherwise give the primary source!
    • by NormalVisual (565491) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:36PM (#40739599)
      As the submitter, I can answer that question. The original page for the book looked to be a WordPress blog, and those often don't deal with Slashdot-level traffic very well. Mashable is a fairly large, well-known site that already handles a fair bit of traffic, and a direct link to the original webpage for the book is in fact included in the Mashable article for those that would be interested in pursuing the story further. It doesn't help anyone if an article doesn't have a working URL, so using the Mashable link had everything to do with making sure the given URL was working and the article was actually available for people to read.
  • No infringement (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orgelspieler (865795) <w0lfie AT mac DOT com> on Monday July 23, 2012 @11:08AM (#40736687) Journal

    This is a novel. That's about the only thing Jack Daniel's doesn't have a trademark on. Christmas lights and ukuleles, but not novels. JD has no case here, and should not be sending C&D letters to authors, no matter how nicely worded.

    According to the USPTO, JD's trademarks are for:

    • Cigarette lighters not of precious metal
    • Non-metal key chains, non-metal key rings, wood boxes and chests, glass signs in the nature of furniture mirrors, tables, picture frames, desk top organizers, wooden bar stools, folding chairs and portable stadium seats, ceramic and glass bottle stoppers with cork, corkboards and bulletin boards; leather key fobs
    • Umbrellas, luggage, duffel bags, athletic bags, backpacks, luggage tags, key cases, knapsacks, tote bags and all purpose canvas carrying bags for use as luggage or in travel and sports
    • Posters, notepads, paper napkins, mounted and un-mounted photographs, paper coasters, calendars; pens, pencils and cases therefor; notice boards, namely, dry erase writing boards; postcards, banners made of paper, tablecloths of paper, paper placemats, desk pads and stationery-type padfolios
    • Belt buckles and clasps for clothing, all made of non-precious metal; ornamental novelty pins
    • Cloth banners and pennants, household towels, linens, bed blankets, table covers not of paper, textile placemats and textile wall hangings
    • Glass and plastic drinking containers, flasks, ceramic mugs, ceramic pitchers, ceramic jugs, wood coasters, cork coasters, ceramic coasters, swizzle sticks, bowls, household food and beverage containers, glassware for beverages, metal serving trays of non-precious metal, portable beverage dispensers, portable picnic coolers, wooden cutting boards, portable drink dispensers, plastic water bottles sold empty
    • Ornamental lapel pins, clocks, watches, cuff links, necklaces and bracelets
    • Lamps, barbecue grills, flash lights, pen lights, electric Christmas tree lights and electric lamps
    • Guitars, guitar picks, guitar straps, banjos, ukuleles, drum sticks, practice pads for drumming; stringed instrument accessories, namely, straps, strings and slide cords; instrument carrying bags and instrument cases
    • Mustard, coffee, cakes, candy and sauces
    • Decorative magnets, decorative switch plate covers, mouse and mouse pads, sunglasses, protective eyewear, headphones, musical instrument amplifiers and cell phone cases; guitareoke system, namely, player-operated guitar-shaped video game controllers for electronic video game machines
    • Adult collectible die-cast miniature scale model vehicles, balloons, games, playthings and sporting goods, namely, dart boards, dart sets consisting of dart flights and darts, pool cues, pool ball racks, pool balls, cue racks, parlor games comprised of wooden blocks, outdoor activity games in the nature of pitching bungs into galvanized buckets, baseball bats, golf putters, golf ball markers, golf balls, golf clubs, hand grips for golf clubs, golf bags; gaming equipment, namely, poker sets comprised of cards, chips and arm garter sold as a unit; metal golf towel clips; cornhole sets, namely, bean bag games, and Christmas tree ornaments
    • Floor mats; carpets and rugs; cloth wall coverings
    • Footwear; headwear including caps, hats, cowboy hats, headbands, straw hats, visors, bandannas; clothing, namely, aprons, sleeve garters, t-shirts, golf shirts, work shirts, baseball shirts, woven shirts, shirts, tops, tank tops, sweatshirts, sweatpants, jogging suits, pants, dresses, skirts, sleep pants, pajamas, robes, shorts, jeans, jackets, coats, belts, neckties, neckwear, scarves, suspenders, leather jackets, rain suits, vests, parkas, gloves
    • Metal safes, metal bottle stoppers with cork, decorative boxes made of non-precious metal
    • Oh yeah, and alcoholic beverages, namely, distilled spirits.
  • by mcsqueak (1043736) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:16PM (#40737507)

    It makes me happy whenever I see companies operate in this manner - wish more would act this way, but I actually have experience with a larger company being nice.

    As part of my job I file and keep up all the trademark filing for the company I work for, and we actually had a trademark dispute a few years ago, involving a name we were registering being a little too close to an already registered name. They are probably a billion dollar revenue company in size, while we are only a few million.

    Despite being in two totally separate markets (but both involving technology products that can communicate with databases, etc.), their lawyer was very nice to me, and simply said they wouldn't pursue any actions against us as long as we dropped our current registration and simply filed a new one with our company name in front of it - so rather than "trademark", it became "companyname trademark". Not a big deal as we usually put our company name on our products any ways.

    Their lawyer even helped me better define the wording on our product registration, to make absolutely sure there wouldn't be any overlap with theirs. Didn't cost my company a dime, other than my time and a $325 refiling fee. I was very happy with the outcome, considering they could have buried us in legal crap had they wanted to.

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