We previously discussed the United States Supreme Court’s June 2023 Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products, LLC decision, which altered the way the “Rogers test,” a doctrine designed to protect First Amendment interests in the trademark context, should be applied. A recent decision out of the Ninth Circuit, Punchbowl, Inc. vs. AJ Press LLC (“Punchbowl II”), applies the Rogers test for the first time following Jack Daniel’s.
Max Capizzi is an associate in the Litigation Department.
Max earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Michigan Law Review and a teaching assistant for the first-year legal writing program. While in law school, Max interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and participated in Michigan’s Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic. Max holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University.
On June 8, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products, LLC and provided some clarity as to the applicability of the “Rogers test,” a doctrine that grapples with the interplay of trademark law and the First Amendment. The case involved a trademark dispute between Jack Daniel’s Properties, the maker of the famous whiskey, and VIP, a dog toy company that makes and sells a product called “Bad Spaniels.” The Bad Spaniels squeaky toy is in the shape of a whiskey bottle and has a black label with white font similar to Jack Daniel’s; in place of “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” the toy reads, “The Old No. 2 On Your Tennessee Carpet.” After VIP initially filed suit against Jack Daniel’s seeking declaratory judgment that the product did not infringe on Jack Daniel’s trademarks, Jack Daniel’s brought counterclaims under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement and trademark dilution.
The United States Supreme Court recently denied certiorari in Johannsongs-Publishing, Ltd. v. Peermusic Ltd., et al, bringing an end to a copyright infringement suit relating to Josh Groban’s 2003 song You Raise Me Up. Notably, in declining to hear a challenge to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that Groban’s song did not constitute infringement, the Court left in place a circuit split as to the applicable test for assessing substantial similarity between two works of authorship.