Vehemently protecting a brand never looked so kind. Jack Daniel’s wrote what’s possibly the friendliest cease-and-desist letter ever to author Patrick Wensink, whose new book cover looks conspicuously like the whiskey bottle. Sure, each bottle of Jack Daniel’s has been adorned by that black label since 1911, making it a pretty widespread cultural icon. But that doesn’t mean its design is free for the taking — and the cover image, to be sure, has all the flourishes of that classic label. Which is why Jack Daniel’s Properties, keeper of the brand and its image, sent the cease-and-desist notice to Wensink. But the contents of the letter hardly stood up to the harrowing name of the legal document: The company demanded nothing, only politely asking that he switch up the cover at the next printing. The whiskey purveyor has also offered to help defray the cost of a new design.
While Wensink wrote on his website he has no plans on taking up Jack Daniel’s on “any of that sweet corporate booze money to redo the cover,” he is planning to freshen the look, if only to keep a friend in Jack Daniel’s. After all, they wished him “continued success” in his writings.
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Of course, all this publicity will certainly only serve to help Wensink and potentially push his book to a new printing sooner, rather than later (or never).
Jack Daniel’s Properties had every right to pounce on Wensink with whatever form of legal jargon they needed, but lawyer Christy Susman opted for the gentle hand — just call it some good ol’ Southern hospitality. Here’s an excerpt of her letter:
“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 over design when the book is re-printed. If you would be willing to change the design sooner than that (including on 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.”
See, doesn’t that make getting slapped with a a legal document sound so much smoother?