I enjoyed this extremely polite cease and desist letter that Jack Daniels sent out recently to an author who “paid homage” to the iconic brand on the cover art for his book. Despite the fact that Jack Daniel’s in-house attorney is based in California, even my refined southern mother would have approved of the gentle and cordial tone of this cease and desist letter. Jack Daniels is doing a fine job of not being a trademark bully. I have great sympathy for the brand owner who has to protect its brand or lose its rights. To the general public, policing brands against something that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal makes the brand owner look like a real jerk who is using lawyers to coerce and intimidate. However, doing nothing can drain all of the value out of the trademark owner’s most important asset–its brand. There has got to be a happy medium and maybe Jack Daniels has struck the right note here.
Using the same form cease and desist letter for every situation, from the blatant infringer to the little league team who thought it would make a great nick name, is not a good idea. Sometimes, killing them with kindness is the right way to go. At any rate, no matter how big of a hammer you have, you will always catch more flies with honey–or maybe a Jack and Coke. But for goodness sake, put it in a real crystal glass, not a red Solo cup. Manners still matter.