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Jack Daniels writes the politest cease and desist notice ever. (brokenpianoforpresident.com)
237 points by boopsie on July 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments



This is the first time I have read a C & D that made me gain more respect for the company it was from. It wasn't just polite, it was respectful, readable, and reasonable.

I will drink to that.


I am impressed. The fact that this post will no doubt get a lot of attention will strengthen the Jack Daniels brand rather then taint it by making the mistake everyone else does when writing a cease and desist making empty threats and being real rude.

Smart move on their part. I'm pretty shocked they offered cash to help change the cover design. One of the best things I've seen posted to this site in a long time!


>I'm pretty shocked they offered cash to help change the cover design. //

Really? You're shocked that they'd spend a couple of hundred dollars to buy themselves a book author as a small time publicist?


It seems reasonable to be shocked considering how rare this sort of behavior is compared to the opposite, and considering that it really turns the tables on who is legally obligated to do what. What doesn't shock me is that there's someone on hacker news playing the worldly, I've-seen-it-all role. Today, it's your turn to be that guy.


Indeed! most corporations seem to prefer the lawsuit way.


That was quite the daring book cover in the first place... here is the official logo just to jog your memory: http://images.google.com/imgres?q=jack+daniels+logo&num=...

They basically copied it verbatim.


Of course they copied it. Such a brazen knockoff can really only be intentional.

It isn't like it was coincidence; take a look at them side-by-side. The book author replaced some text, everything else is a perfect match.


Previously: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4277485

It appears to be the exact same link, I wonder why this wasn't automatically de-duped?


From the comments in the thread it would seem that started as a boing boing link and got changed.


That's the nicest C&D I've seen. Even offering to help pay for changes to expedite the process. That's just beyond classy.


Makes me want to buy a bottle of JD despite the inevitable hangover. I am surprised they didn't offer to throw in a bottle or two.

When opposing sides get heated, lawyers win. This letter seemed to calm the fire down. It's all class, and more effective as a result.


I always dream of a day when people apologize for bad law. Cops would apologize for being asked to enforce prohibition, lawyers would apologize for even mentioning software patents. While I can forgive people doing the job they are compelled to do by the law (not everyone is ready to put their job on the line) it goes a long way to know that at least their hearts are on the side of reason.


You'd think except there are two ways at least they can allow the use and not dilute their mark.

They can allow the use and have included a statement that the mark is used by permission of the mark owner (whatever it is they are claiming is their registered mark). Or they can require that the claimant makes a statement that they are not associated with Jack Daniels and any similarity of the mark is incidental.

Jack Daniels as an alcoholic beverage doesn't lie in the same Nice classification as literature and so doesn't really infringe. There is no passing off, no trademark infringement just a similarity in design style which is mostly likely a copyright infringement; which again JD could allow if they wished without any prejudicial effect on any other threat of litigation they wish to proffer in the future.


No note is going to prevent the dilution of the mark. Most people won't read the note, or care, and the impact of the mark on bookshelves and elsewhere will be unchanged. Problem is the mark isn't incidental, it's the exact same with different words.


Yes it's copyright infringement. No it doesn't dilute their mark. You think because they've used the same flourishes as JD use that people are going to think this is a bottle of bourbon and not a book? Or that that will have any effect of peoples perception of JD as a drink?

The lack of the brand name and the product name are rather key to the mark as a whole wouldn't you say?


As a recipient of a few of these over the years I have to comment on how humane this is. A particular C&D I once had the displeasure of receiving seemed purposed more towards tying my stomach in knots and keeping me up at night then actually protecting the brand. The outcome here provides the same result, just much, much, more comfortable for the parties involved.


I got a C&D letter once from a real asshole who tried to get me to stop providing after-market documentation for his trademarked software. I responded with a very simple letter. "Thank you for your concern. I will personally audit the documentation to make sure your trademarks are appropriately credited. If you notice any documentation which lacks a notice saying you are the author of this trademark, please let me know as soon as possible so I can correct this oversight."

I never heard back.


Nice. It took me a couple to understand that C&D's were preferred to legal action (I received a few from some really big firms). While researching the issue, under a small bead of sweat, I actually found conference papers from the originating firms outlining the preference of C&D's to expensive legal action. My personal experience with them seemed like glorified take down notices, which were easily complied with, but the language can be damn scary.

They are serious business, but, if some of these cases can be handled as humanely as the OP's example, a lot of people could sleep better at night.


I hope I never have to send a C&D letter. If I do, I will try my damnedest to be this cool about it. Way to be, JD! I don't even drink and now I'm a fan of how you do business.


I got a cease-and-desist from Coke a few months back and it was nowhere as polite and informed as this one.

Kudos to Jack Daniels - though I much prefer Bakers.


Post here please?


Certainly. Its here:

http://donohoe.io/img/misc/cease-and-desist.png

I should add that in the end it was handled amicably and we came to a compromise on some of the original requests (dribbble etc.)


I really love this approach, and I hope that my fear of the outcome of this is an irrational one. By not qualifying the offer to "just this once"/whatever I fear they may inspire more copycats and prove to the rest of the trademark gatekeepers, that being respectful and helpful just invites more infringement.

I can only remember seeing Ben & Jerry's doing this with a C&D request before, but I'm sure there have been at least a couple more companies willing to forego "more effective" intimidation for the "small" chance of creating an ally. It seems to me to have more to do with an overwhelmingly strong culture in those companies to be great at what they do rather than beating everyone else at what they do. Kudos to Christy Susman and anyone else that gave her the freedom to make these choices instead of taking the "easy" way. It gives me hope.


All credit to the letter; nice, polite and the best JD could have done considering the sitution. Also I like that the author acknowledges what good sports they are and is sharing that with the rest of us.

What I am not so impressed about is that the author then uses the whole situation to peddle his book. It seems to me to be against the whole spirit of the letter in the first place.


I seldom drink hard liquor, but I will get one bottle of JD when I travel next time just for this nice polite letter.


Any idea how BPFP got the branches design in the first place? Some freelancer? He found it himself somewhere online under "free vectors"? Curious how the OP was involved in (I guess unwillingly) interfering with JD logo design. And did he know before..


This just goes to show that you don't need to be a complete a-hole to be a good lawyer.



Getty sell images. They rightly pursue blatant [commercial] copyright infringements of those images; they're probably not going about it well but that's another matter I feel. JD sell bourbon, they wrongly pursue IMO the authors of books that use the same flourishes on their jackets as JD use on their whisky bottles.

If the defendant were selling alcoholic drinks, fair dos.


Correction: this isn't a cease and desist letter.


That's an awesome letter. Makes me want to go our and buy a bottle of their whiskey just to support a polite, respectful company.


It's nice to see a company and law firm that not only acknowledges its fans, but doesn't treat them like criminals.




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