From Hemingway to Kerouac, novelists and whiskey often go hand-in-hand. That isn’t the case with author Patrick Wensink however, and it has nothing to do with a bad hangover, but a lot to do with his latest book. The cover art for Wensink’s new novel, “Broken Piano for President,” bears more than a passing resemblance to the label of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and it drew the attention of the Tennessee beverage maker.
Often when a property dispute and bourbon mix, the results can be less than civil. But when intellectual property and Jack Daniel’s trademark attorneys mix, what you get is a remarkably polite cease-and-desist letter, detailed here on the author’s blog.
As the attorney for Jack Daniel’s notes, the company comes “across designs like this on a regular basis” and this one is quite similar in the colors, filigreed borders, circular design in the center, and fonts. The book’s cover even says it’s “40% ALC. BY VOL.”, which raises the question: Does a reader have to be 21 to purchase it?
Another book, rock band Motley Crue’s memoir, “The Dirt,” also bears a resemblance to the iconic Jack Daniel’s label, although the filigree is different and it lacks the circular design in the center of the label. It’s not clear why Jack Daniel’s chose to allow the Motley Crue book design to go forward.
While novels and whiskey are sold in completely separate streams of commerce, the company said it is seeking to protect its brand from trademark dilution. The cease-and-desist letter said, “… if we allow uses like this one, we run the very real risk that our trademark will be weakened.” One can certainly understand Jack Daniel’s desire to keep its brand from being diluted at all costs, because if there’s one thing everybody hates . . . it’s diluted whiskey.