Jack Daniel’s files Trademark Infringement case against Popcorn Sutton’s White Whiskey

A trademark dilution case was filed by the famous Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey against another local distiller in October 2013. Jack Daniel’s representatives have claimed that the accused distillery copied their bottle and label’s legendary design. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey has been distilling and bottling in the state of Tennessee since 1866, and is considered to the best-selling whiskey in the United States.

The lawsuit filed is against the new packaging for a whiskey produced by Popcorn Sutton Distilling LLC of Nashville, Tennessee. The new whiskey is named after Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who committed suicide in 2009 after he was convicted for offenses related to illegal production of home-made whiskey, commonly known as ‘moonshine’.

As per complaints filed by Jack Daniel’s at the federal court in Nashville on October 18, the Popcorn Sutton product was initially sold in transparent Mason jars to honour the containers in which ‘moonshine’ was often sold. Popcorn Sutton’s current owner remembers that the original Popcorn Sutton always wanted to sell his product in a bottle, but could not do so because of lack of funds. He also quoted the original Popcorn Sutton telling him that his whiskey was “too good to be in a jar.”

Popcorn Sutton changed the packaging in 2012, and started selling its white whiskey in pitch-black square bottles with angled shoulders, beveled corners and a white-on-black label. Jack Daniel’s states that this change infringed its trademark and it would suffer irreparable harm from the new labelling. The complaint also alleges that the bottling and labelling for the Popcorn Sutton product is similar to the universal packaging for Jack Daniel’s and was likely to cause customer confusion.

Jack Daniel’s seeks an injunction against the defendant and desires damages from them for willful trademark infringement, deceptive trade, fraudulent misrepresentation, and unfair competition. The company also wants Popcorn Sutton to stop packaging its product in Jack Daniel’s trade dress, and also destruction of all infringing materials.

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