News & Events

February 23, 2023

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of MSCHF in Jack Daniels v. VIP Products

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP attorneys Bill Patterson and Nicole O’Toole Peterson filed an amicus brief on behalf of MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based art collective in favor of artist’s rights to choose their medium of expression. The brief includes the opportunity for each Justice and clerk to engage in participatory art, highlighting the value of cultural iconography in creating expression, and then argues that the exchange of symbols, including trademarks, when used for speech, as opposed to the sale of goods and services, should remain a two-way street.

The case involves a parody about Jack Daniel’s and commentary about dog owners, placed on a dog toy “Bad Spaniels”. In 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that VIP's dog toy parody was a non-infringing expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection because the toy communicated a humorous message, using wordplay to alter the serious phrases that appeared on a Jack Daniel's bottle. Jack Daniels petitioned the Supreme Court for review. The matter is set for oral arguments on March 22, 2023.

Read the full amicus brief here.

Bill Patterson is chair of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, with a national practice focused on protecting his clients' intellectual property. His experience in advocating for his clients ranges from handling complex litigation matters including trademark, trade secrets and patent infringement matters, to leading the sale of Wordle to the New York Times. Learn more about his practice here.

Nicole O'Toole Peterson focuses her practice on commercial litigation and business disputes, as well as entertainment, media and sports law, and intellectual property and transactional services. She represents national and international organizations in state and federal court in complex commercial litigation and contractual and business tort disputes. Learn more about her practice here.


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