The Right Tool for the Right Job

By: Jeffrey Hamilton Geiger. This was posted Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

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I commented recently on litigation involving Maker’s Mark Bourbon and its distinctive red wax seal. Understandably, Maker’s Mark did not want competitors to use red wax with their beverages as it would create a false association in the mind of the consumer and dilute the brand. And the court agreed. But at what cost? While I am not privy to the fees expended by the parties in the litigation, I suspect it was well north of six figures.

While the cost (at least for Maker’s Mark) was likely well worth it, I turn evermore to Abraham Lincoln’s admonition to “discourage litigation.” It is with that in mind that I toast a “cease and desist” letter sent by an attorney for Jack Daniel’s as reported in The Atlantic by Megan Garber.

Apparently, a fan of the beverage used as the cover art for his novel a label that looks similar to the label on Jack Daniel’s. Rather, than instituting preemptive litigation or issuing over-the-top demands, the trademark attorney pulled back from nuclear Armageddon and, wait for it, sent a cheery letter asking only that the author not use the cover in any second printing of the book.  That’s it.

The bottom line: one-size-fits-all approaches work as well as Henry Ford‘s quip that “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” You’ve got a big tool box—use it.

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