There has been a lot of publicity surrounding Jack Daniel’s “cease and desist” letter to Patrick Wensink, the author of a book titled “Broken Piano For President” that features a cover that mirrors Jack Daniel’s famous label. As Businessweek reports:
[I]nstead of asking Wensink to immediately change the cover, the company said it was “flattered” by the imitation and asked only that a new cover be commissioned if the book is reprinted. “If you would be willing to change the design sooner than that,” Jack Daniel’s wrote in its letter, “we would be willing to contribute a reasonable amount toward the cost of doing so.” Companies rarely treat trademark violators this kindly.
The main message of the Businessweek article, which includes a Q&A with a Jack Daniel’s attorney, is that Jack Daniel’s treats many infringers “with respect” and without draconian demands when the infringement is non-competitive and results in minimal harm. This smart approach recognizes that many infringers are actually big supporters of the brand and that vitriolic cease and desist letters can create backlash that, in the aggregate, might weaken the brand overall.