Lawyers’ cease and desist letters are, as a literary genre, distinguished mostly for nastiness of prose. But Jack Daniel’s, the famous producer of Tennessee whiskey, apparently has a trademark lawyer working for them who is willing to break that mold. For he (or she) has written what amounts to the nicest trademark cease and desist letter ever. Which just proves that there’s a first time for everything.
The “dispute” arose when author Patrick Wensink published his new book, “Broken Piano for President”. As you can see from the picture above, the cover of the Wensink book looks something like the Jack Daniel’s label — especially in the scroll work around the border. Jack Daniel’s didn’t like it, but rather than fire off the standard-issue lawyer nastygram, they took a more constructive route. In their very civil letter, Jack Daniel’s makes no request that Wensink pull the book off the shelves — rather, they ask that he re-design the cover for the next printing. If he is willing to do so before that, they add, they will help to cover the cost.
In all, a win-win. Jack Daniel’s gains some great publicity, and Wensink probably sells some more books. All of which is a bit strange considering that Jack Daniel’s trademark claims are pretty weak overall. No one is likely to be confused into thinking that Jack Daniel’s is the source of the Wensink book, or is somehow sponsoring it. Most people will probably understand that Wensink is making a reference to Jack Daniel’s, which the trademark law doesn’t prohibit standing alone.
But whatever. Niceness is its own reward. (Hat tip: Christi Klein).
UPDATE #2: Just spotted on the street in Charlottesville, VA — this Jack Daniel’s-themed poster advertising a show by southern rock band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. Calling Christy Susman . . .