June 15, 2023

Munger, Tolles & Olson Partner Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke Discusses Trademark Infringement With IP Law Daily

Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke was interviewed by IP Law Daily about a Supreme Court decision on trademark law last week. 

The article focused on a recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the Ninth Circuit and finding that VIP Products LLC, which makes a dog toy product made to resemble a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, must face trademark infringement claims brought by distillery Jack Daniel’s.  

Ms. Luedtke found the unanimous opinion by Justice Kagan notable in that the Court rejected the argument that an alleged parody of a trademarked brand is automatically subject to heightened scrutiny under the First Amendment. She explained it is interesting that the Court in its remand of the case trusts traditional likelihood of confusion analysis at the trial level to protect freedom of expression and speech and cautions those who wish to partake of a parody of a trademarked brand to draw clear comparisons and distinctions with the humor so that consumers will not be confused about whether it is, in fact, a parody. Ms. Luedtke noted that now that the case has been remanded back to the district court, the parties in the case will have to present evidence that there is or is not confusion among consumers that these dog toys are or are not affiliated with Jack Daniel’s, such as through a survey expert or through evidence of actual confusion. 

Read the full article.

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Munger, Tolles & Olson has a unique, nationally renowned copyright and trademark practice. We advise entertainment, media, fashion companies and others on their most important matters. We defend the rights of intellectual property owners in high-stakes litigation. We help our clients establish vital precedents and defend the IP behind global entertainment franchises. And we are involved in the most cutting-edge matters at the intersection of intellectual property rights and technological change.

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