Liquor Company Claims T-Shirt Causes Confusion, Damages Brand

Kohl’s may have to pull a popular teen t-shirt after Jack Daniel’s, or more specifically the brand’s owner Brown-Forman, claimed that the shirt violated its trademark.

The shirt is being marketed under the brand About a Girl as part of the retailer’s back to school sales aimed at preteen shoppers. The black and white design is similar to Jack Daniel’s trademarked logo, but it features the words “Los Angeles,” “Original” and “Premium Quality.”

Brown-Forman said the design might mislead the public and imply an affiliation with Jack Daniel’s products, which could cause customer confusion and damage the brand. The fact that the shirt is marketed to teens is also problematic.

In addition to infringing on Jack Daniel’s 150-year-old trademark, Brown-Forman claims that the design violates the company’s “responsible marketing code.” The liquor giant’s company policy specifically forbids marketing to underage consumers.

Similar retailers have received complaints for irresponsible alcohol marketing. In 2009, Old Navy received complaints over a line of t-shirts with messages like “Beer Pressure – Worth Giving Into” and “Clink ‘N’ Drink.”

Old Navy argued that the shirts were clearly marketed towards adults, but the incident still harmed public perception of the brand.

How Could Someone Else’s Marketing Damage My Brand?

Jack Daniel’s is not marketing the disputed merchandise, but it is still responsible for how the brand appears to the public. If customers believe the liquor company is promoting underage drinking, its sales could suffer.

When trademark infringers mimic your design or product, they risk harming your brand’s public image. Trademark laws are meant to protect your reputation, and help you maintain a bond of trust with your customers.

Klein Trial Lawyers can help you protect the image and reputation you have worked hard to cultivate. Our experienced trademark attorneys can make a big difference in your trademark lawsuit, so call us today for your free consultation.

Klein Trial Lawyers—Los Angeles business litigation lawyers

Did You Know: In 2012, Urban Outfitters received complaints for t-shirts featuring slogans such as “Vote for Vodka” and “USA Drinking Team.”


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