The Whiskey Rebellion.

[Click to enlarge]

After conferring with my publisher’s legal minds, I’ve been given the green light to post this.

If you haven’t been following, Jack Daniel’s sent me a letter saying the artwork for Broken Piano for President must be changed.

What follows is, perhaps, the most polite cease and desist ever written. If it wasn’t signed by some lawyer, I’d imagine ol’ Gentleman Jack penning it himself, twirling his bushy mustache.

In case you’re wondering, no, my publisher, Lazy Fascist Press, will not be taking them up on their offer. We’re proudly independent and don’t need any of that sweet corporate booze money to redo the cover.

*Good news if you already own a copy of Broken Piano for President: that baby’s going to be a collector’s item.

Powell’s appears to be sold out. [Back in stock, apparently] 

Amazon still has some for sale. Get ‘em while they’re legal-ish.

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298 Responses to The Whiskey Rebellion.

  1. Wow, what a letter! It actually makes these kind of legal matters seem pleasant and amiable.

  2. Lucas Thorn says:

    that really is polite. makes you want to write back to him and ask how his family is and invite him to a barbecue.

    • Andrew Hastings says:

      I assume you mean the author of the letter?

      While I’m sure that ‘Christy’ would be flattered by the offer of some grilled meats, I doubt she would appreciate being mistaken for a man.

  3. I think I’m going to use their trademark as well. It’s been so long since anyone’s written me a nice letter.

  4. Ha says:

    Seems like a reasonable request…the depicted book cover is clearly riding the coat tails of JD’s protected image.

  5. Artor says:

    Someone working for JD must have been following the Charles Carreon case and took notes on how NOT to write a cease-and-desist letter. This is downright pleasant. I didn’t know lawyers were allowed to be decent!

  6. B S 3 says:

    It’s a nice letter – certainly better than the usual brute force; but you are just giving in to the premise that it does infringe and that skips the real question, which is “do they have a leg to stand on”…

    Good summary of trademark law: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm
    JD is clearly trademarked, properly registered even famous as the law defines it. But while they sell a variety of “consumer goods” using the mark, they don’t sell works of fiction – just a cookbook.

    • sardonic_sob says:

      Thanks to the lackeys of BIG IP we laughingly call a legislature, the mere fact that the goods/services are in a different class is not dispositive. The trademark law also recognizes an offense before God called “Tarnishing,” and when the mark is “famous,” basically the holder can obliterate you in the wink of an eye for even getting within hailing distance of it unless you have fifty G’s or so to spend defending yourself.

      I had a client once who tried to use the name of a famous historical artifact for a product. The name also happens to be that of a has-been heavy-metal band. Despite the fact that a) they had no registration for the class of goods the product was in and b) they had no plans to enter the class and c) there was absolutely positively no likelihood of confusion what-so-freaking-ever they wouldn’t back down and the next step was a Federal trademark lawsuit. So he had to change it, because even though I thought we would win he didn’t have the money to defend himself.

    • Ian Osmond says:

      Sure, if it came to a court battle, JD might win, or might lose. And if it was vitally important for Broken Piano For President to have that cover, it might be worth going to the mattresses for.

      But, the way that JD set it up, offering to help redo the cover and all, makes it so that they don’t have to roll those dice. Which is why it’s such a good move for Jack to NOT be a jerk about this — their choices are “be a dick, spend lots of money, and probably-but-not-definitely win” (probably, because our current legal system is biased toward large corporations, not because their case is that strong in reality), or “be nice, spend only a LITTLE money in helping a redesign, and add an extra precedent to strengthen their trademark.”

      From a purely cold, calculating point of view, “be nice” is a better choice here than “be mean.”

      I LIKE it when that happens, and I wish more people would notice that “be nice” is OFTEN the better choice, even from a cold, calculating point of view.

  7. johnnyrojo says:

    I think I would reply: Thanks for your courteous letter. However, the words and typography on my cover are completely different than the words and typography on your label. My book will only be current, alas, for a short time before it is mostly forgotten. Your brand will live on for a good time yet (and I use those words advisedly). If anybody were to confuse Broken Piano for President for Jack Daniels and forsake your brand in a futile quest for Broken Piano for President Whisky, I would respectfully suggest that they should not be doing any more drinking and you should not want them as a fan of your brand. We could go to court over this, but I have checked and under various laws safeguarding freedom of expression, parody and proper use of the courts, I’m pretty sure I would win. So why not relax with a shot of Jack and let this blow over. I’ll happily join you.

    Yours for art and good whiskey!

    • John Galt says:

      Your analysis just is not right.

      1. different words and typography doesn’t cut it: this obviously invokes the JD label.

      2. Freedom of expression: not an issue. What about the JD look and feel is hurting your freedom to express an idea?
      3. Parody: you can parody X, you can’t use X to parody Y. This is the standard “mickey mouse” ruling: you can riff on a big mac ad to parody McDonalds, you can’t use a big mac ad riff to parody Nike.
      4. Proper use of courts? What does that even mean?

      • Johnny Rojo says:

        It means you’re an uptight individual with no memory of the freer and easier days before all this extreme copyright sensitivity. I remember a record album from the late-1960s with the title Ogden’s Nutgone Flake which closely copied an Ogden’s Tobacco brand. Frankly, unless the usage is obscene or depraved, the copyright/trademark holder could simply view it as additional, free advertising. Since I’m not a lawyer, I won’t even attempt to claim my comments had any legal basis. It’s simply what I would say as a polite way of telling them to shut up and go away… which I trust you will now do.

    • 00jm says:

      And as you sign over your last dollar for attorney’s fees about five years later, don’t forget it was your conscious decision to be a jerk that put you there.

      • Ben Culture says:

        A sensible thought well put.

      • Johnny Rojo says:

        Since I am so clearly a fool, I would represent myself and have no fees. My point, overall, is that there is too much kowtowing to authority, however polite it might be. I’m not an “Occupy” person, but they definitely had more of my sympathy than Wall Street did.

      • 00jm says:

        Counselor, I have some bad news. You can pay your lawyers, the other guy’s lawyers, or both. Either way, you’re paying.

      • Johnny Rojo says:

        You’d be amazed what you can get away with when you thumb your nose at authority. But you have to have the courage to try.

      • 00jm says:

        The courage to try is useless without the brains to know when.

      • Johnny Rojo says:

        When in doubt, fall back on fatuous platitudes in the guise of wisdom. Yup, yup, yup!

      • 00jm says:

        Johnny Rojo says: When in doubt, fall back on fatuous platitudes in the guise of wisdom. Yup, yup, yup!

        It turns out you were right. I was indeed just falling back on fatuous platitudes in the guise of wisdom… and not just during my exchange with you, but with life in general. No more. I had an epiphany.

        About 11 last night I was an hour into a 3+ hour drive hauling a boat back to civilization when I had to choose between a 2×4 and a tree branch at 70mph. I should have picked the two-by. The branch caught an e-brake cable, locked up the rear wheels, then took out a tire and the trailer’s lighting for good measure. I’m trying to get a call through and an Idaho cop rolls up and says “We better get some markers out or try to get you further off the road, do you need some help?” What would Johnny do, I wonder. So I say “well fuck you pig cop” and spit in his face. He taxed me and took me to jail. Both the truck and the boat were impounded, but not before some backwoods a-hole ripped off my tools and the outdrive off the boat.

        Suffice it to say it’s amazing what I got away with when I thumbed my nose at authority. Thanks for giving me the courage to try.

      • Johnny Rojo says:

        “Gawrsh,” sez Goofy(TM), “even I ain’t that stupit!” Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. America, all the ships at sea, and a special goodnight to all the proto-fascists biting their pillows tonight.

      • Paul says:

        “Proto-Fascists”. It’s like he can’t help himself.

    • Next time I get almost-sued, I’ll use this approach!

  8. Don’t these people get that this is basically subliminal brand recognition-based advertising for their product?

    • 00jm says:

      Probably, or at the very least they know the book isn’t going to hurt anything. But as they explain in the letter, their hands are tied.

    • jt says:

      They’re protecting their brand from trademark erosion. If they allow the label to be freely copied this way, they may eventually lose the right to register it as a trademark.

      • Jack says:

        This, coupled with the fact that if they let just anyone use what is obviously a play off their trademark, they can’t control who is using it and what connotations come with that use. A simple example would be if Jack Daniel’s was trying to establish themselves as a luxury/top-shelf brand, and a trailer park ran an advertisement in a local newspaper that was in the style of their label; obviously this isn’t a real situation (that I know of), but you get the point. When it’s all said and done, all a company like JD really has is its brand equity.

  9. Rosie Fiore says:

    Won’t take the corporate dollar, though happy to use their reasonable, kind and extremely generous letter as publicity to hawk your copyright flaunting book? Massive double standard, it seems to me.

    • kibbles says:

      errrnt! there is absolutely no copyright infringement here, and likely not any trademark infringement.

      thanks for playing.

    • bambiblue says:

      Ding ding ding!

    • Ben Culture says:

      I don’t think it’s *any* kind of double standard, much less a “massive” one. This letter is more likely to inspire good will towards the Jack Daniel’s company than towards Mr. Wensink or his novel. To simplify, the letter made me more likely to buy Jack Daniel’s, not more likely to buy the book. Speaking personally, I just went to the JD website and sent them kudos via the feedback form, and committed to buy JD the next time I buy liquor, but I haven’t given much thought to reading the novel. I think the attorney’s polite and reasonable attitude is more newsworthy than Mr. Wensink’s novel or its cover. In summary, this letter benefits Jack Daniel’s far more than it does Patrick Wensink.
      Frankly, the way you’re turning Mr. Wensink’s refusal to take their money into a bad thing is just utterly beyond me. I think he’s doing exactly the right thing.

    • Ian Osmond says:

      I don’t see that as a problem. I mean, I’m uncomfortable getting money from my family, for instance, but I’m totally happy to have them talk me up to their friends to have folks throw business my way.

      And, well, it seems clear that Mr Wensink wasn’t intending to flaunt trademark, and is in the process of changing things so that nobody could even SUSPECT that he was doing that. Seems like everybody involved is acting reasonably honorably.

      I mean, I don’t think that this is the ONLY way that this could have honorably played out, but I think that the way this is playing out is AMONG the honorable, decent options.

  10. Dave says:

    From my UK viewpoint, this sounds reasonable, congenial and straightforward! That’s the way to do it, rather than try and put the frighteners on everybody and threaten all sorts of nasties for non-compliance. Certainly puts Jack Daniels in a league of their own for dealing with this sort of thing in a gentlemanly manner! Charles Carreon could learn a thing or two from this! (Nope – on second thoughts, he probably wouldn’t!)

  11. I trust you will be making the changes, but without JD’s money? Else you’ll have no problem if I borrow your writings? My publisher wants me to get to print promptly and I really can’t think of anything to say. Of course I’ll be using my own name on the cover….

    • eeee says:

      Seems like he made it pretty clear that’s exactly what he’ll be doing (making the changes but without JD’s money.) In case you still don’t see it, re-read the bit about the current edition of the book soon becoming a collector’s item.

    • kibbles says:

      i see what you did there. you’re trying to make a 1:1 between him using a JD-inspired graphic style, and you’re suggestion of direct plagiarism of his work. sorry but the two are not the same. one is a certain matter of copyright (taking his writing content), the other is a very gray matter of design language.

      • Aaron Lee says:

        Except the cover of this book does lift actual graphical elements from JD’s design, making it much more than just a “gray matter of design”, and perfectly equivalent to lifting text from the author’s book. Plagiarism extends well beyond writing. Kudos to the author at least for making the change, and kudos to JD for not acting like a hulking corporate greed machine in the process.

    • samoval says:

      Why exactly money? I think they should be asked for a couple of bottles.

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  13. Adam Banks says:

    Great letter. It’s unfortunate that the cover design isn’t a clever homage to the Jack Daniel’s label, but a direct copy, with the typography clumsily replaced. Both copyright and trademark infringements seem obvious, and you were very fortunate to get such a polite letter. Why not hire a really great typographical illustrator to produce an original design for your next edition? You could try http://www.stevenbonner.com/ or http://www.seblester.co.uk/ , for example.

    • kibbles says:

      please expand on the copyright violations?

      since its different copy I’m not sure how that could possibly be true.

      • Jenn says:

        You can parody all you want, but not when you stand to make a profit. Check copyright and fair use under the FCCs rules.

  14. Awesome “demand” letter. Makes me want to start drinking Jack Daniels again.

  15. jdgalt says:

    I wonder if Lynyrd Skynyrd got a similar letter. If their “Old Time Greats” album cover was ever changed so as not to look like a bottle of JD, I haven’t heard about it.

    • davidmland says:

      The Lynyrd Skynyrd cover was an original creation that reflected the Jack Daniels style. Mr. Wensink’s cover is a copy of the Daniels label with the text replaced.

  16. tarlen says:

    I received a cease-and-desist from Hasbro a couple of years ago, for using one of their trademarks without permission (note I thought the use was allowed – I was wrong).

    The letter from the lawyers was every bit as pleasant as this, and the matter was resolved quickly and smoothly.

    A friend of mine has also received a cease-and-desist for something he included in his webcomic. Again, it was polite and friendly, and the matter was resolved to everyones satisfaction.

    It’s good to know that there are more cases like ours out there, and not only the well publicized nasty, drawn out battles.

  17. Cossard says:

    Some people are missing the point here. The point is that it “weakens” their trademark, as the lawyer explains. That is, if enough people are allowed to get away with this sort of thing, then it may become legal for another whiskey manufacturer to do so, at which point they have a problem.

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  27. Hrm… As polite as it is, I was thinking “fair use” and all that, until I did a side-by-side comparison. Most of the book cover is a direct lift from the label – compare all the little swirls and flourishes, all identical. I think if the cover art had used something reminiscent of the JD label without directly copying any of it, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

    Still, good result all round. Glad you didn’t get sued!

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  38. Anthony says:

    You should change the design. They are being very lenient.

  39. Am I the only one that looks at what the company chose to make their policy and goes, “I would seriously change it just to let the world know that decent, polite legal conversation, even if they don’t have a legal basis, works?” I’d change my book (or whatever) for JD if they sent me a letter for that just to support the kindness of their delivery. Besides, from a legal standpoint, there’s only one real question with regards to JD, and that’s, “What would they do if the party said no?” Assuming they have legal ground to stand on, what do you think their reaction would be? Would they still be cool if the party said, “no thanks,” and moved on? That’s an interesting question. In any case it’s somewhat astounding that we’re living in a legal world where politely asking isn’t the norm — where a company acting like a gentlefolk is a newsworthy item. My sincere gratitude to JD for acting out their company values, because this kind of decency and conduct is very becoming an American original. Or maybe the lawyer was just drunk. Either case, with so many aggressive legal assertions, and patents and trademarks effectively broken, it’s awesome, and encouraging, to see this. On a notion, I should add that I think there is a profound lesson here for companies that interact with customers (aka, all companies). JD was a company that grew up on word of mouth (at least until the 50s), never compromised on quality to meet demand (hard in the booze business if you’re popular), and still brings employees together to do ‘Camp Jack.’ I’ve studied them, and you should look them up. They’re kind of an awesome premium brand, and they have a lot to teach other companies about the profits and brand staying power of doing things the right way. I run a tech company, and I’m always looking for people who get this point, because being a quality company is great leadership isn’t something you do, it’s something you are.

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  42. Byron Hathaway says:

    I don’t think it matters whether the author of the letter is a man or a woman, though my guess is that the author is female. What matters is their civility in requesting someone respect their brand and the hard work that went into making it what it is today in such a reasonable, courteous, way.

    Perhaps you should match their opening gambit with a civil, courteous one of your own and ask for one penny’s compensation to change the art now. It would be a gesture-in-kind and would serve your own brand beautifully.

  43. Alex Yuen says:

    “We’re proudly independent and don’t need any of that sweet corporate booze money to redo the cover.”

    the book cover used the JD’s iconic label design, in essence using the corporation’s well-known booze image, yet claiming that you don’t need ‘sweet corporate booze money’. this is an epitome of being hypocritical.

    also, self-righteousness shown here is only seen as a blatant disregard for others intellectual property rights – is it how you define being ‘independent’?

    • nothing says:

      He basically said he will not use their money to fix his mistake that, by all regards, could and should have cost him a lot of his own money in a lawsuit. That’s hypocritical? Sure, he prettied it up with nice language, but that is what writers do.

  44. hawaiispace says:

    What’s a little legal snafu between friends? Seems like this is working for both you and the brand. You should send some cupcakes. Maybe you’ll gentle some Gentleman Jack in return?
    Great cover. Great letter in kind. YOu guys should be friends.

  45. I wonder if Tom Robbins ever got a cease and desist from RJ Reynolds? The cover of Still Life with Woodpecker was a total knock-off of a pack of Camels. It is a quandary – it’s hard to fight the man when he’s being such a gentleman!

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  49. Jack Daniel’s shows a lot of class with the professionalism and tone in this letter. I would respond with, send me a case and I’ll gladly change the next print run! Life is too short to not drink some Jack now and then.

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  53. B'ford says:

    Ever been to Lynchburg, Tennessee? It’s in the smallest county in Tennessee, (and it’s a dry county!), but that’s where they distill every lovin’ drop of Old No. 7. A group of my fellow Barbershop Harmony singers travels to Lynchburg each October for the annual Invitational Barbecue Cookoff, sponsored by JD. The people of Lynchburg (pop.361) and Moore County are some of the nicest folks you’ll meet anywhere, even when the crowd swells to many thousands for their events. Be sure to take the free tour of the Distillery while you’re there!
    I’m not surprised at all that their lawyers are polite, too — jes’ don’t push your luck! After all, NOBODY messes with Jack!

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  55. Tomasz Jedzok says:

    Please publish your reply. Probably lots of people is waiting for it :-)

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  57. G says:

    The unfortunate thing about trademark law is that once an infringement is brought to the company’s attention[*], they HAVE to act. If they don’t, then they may be denied in any future actions. So no matter how small or how weak the infringement, they HAVE to do something.
    [*] They must also be excessively vigilant; if they’re unaware of someone using their trademark, that’s even worse.

    That’s not to say they always win. Sometimes a company welcomes a ruling that says, for example, “Your trademark for wool clothing isn’t valid for sugar-free lollipops,” and then they can leave any candy makers with similar logos well alone. But until it’s entirely clear that they *don’t* have a claim, if it appears there is infringement, they have to do something.

    Otherwise, the next time they go after someone else making psuedowool clothing and using a similar trademark, that company’s lawyers can point to the lollipops and say, “You didn’t act here, so obviously you don’t value your trademark, so we can use it, too.”

    The company doesn’t want bad publicity; the company doesn’t want to fight; the company doesn’t want to argue with someone who likes their product enough to create an homage to it. It’s just that, due to the way the laws are written and enforced, they HAVE to act or lose their right to act in the future. And nobody wants that for these nice genial Gentleman Jack folks, do they?

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  61. radarangel says:

    G has it right; it seems draconian but it’s not the fault of the company or its lawyers. Any failures to defend a trademark will tend to weaken their claim to it in the eyes of the law, and where a design has been repeatedly regurgitated in different contexts an argument starts to build for public domain. The system is totally broken but until someone fixes it everyone’s stuck working within those parameters.

  62. Joseph Corlett says:

    Mr. Wensink:
    You’ve ripped off Jack Daniels and been caught fair and square. Had you ripped me off, I would not be nearly as polite as have they. Please change your stolen cover and don’t do it again. An apology to Jack Daniels would be in order.

  63. Ole Nordmann says:

    This is such a classy letter, that I want to go right out and buy a bottle of Jack Daniels (something I’ve never done) in thanks for being a reasonable and humane company — so unlike most.

  64. daveainthere says:

    kudos to both parties for acting neighborly. i’m buying the book, some jack, and headin to porch to “sit, sip, n read.” good form ladies and gentlemen.

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  73. Joshua says:

    Awesome. With such a polite letter, I would have turned down JD’s money and agree to change the cover on the condition that the peace offerings of a bottle of Jack and an autographed book be exchanged.

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  83. Jeremy Wilson says:

    The author is being an arrogant rip off artist. Cashing in on an established American brand is one thing, then rubbishing them because they were polite to you? Agree on not take taking their money, there is some honour there, but frankly, you’ve stolen some branding and are now using the resultant response as a way of building publicity around your book. Classless.

    • Johnny Rojo says:

      Yet another KoolAid(TM) drinker.

    • Benign Egoist says:

      There is an article on Yahoo with a bit more from the author where he discusses NOT having much to do with the cover art than a stamp of approval. Thanks Jeremy for being the jackass Jack Daniels lawyer wasn’t. You assumed ill intent was involved, JD took the high road and assumed a small mistake was made without knowledge of the damage being done. You’re the reason this type of courtesy which should be more common is newsworthy.

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  86. Matthew House says:

    You know, there’s a marketing ploy in here. Sell the book, -and- a bottle of jack, as a package deal. I’m sure someone could get that going…

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  89. hidflect says:

    You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar. Those JD lawyers do understand that.

  90. Fisty says:

    Seriously? You’re seriously going to reprint with the same ripoff cover? “40% alcohol” reference and all?

    Can’t wait to hear your pathetic cry for sympathy if they sue you (which, given your conscious decision to defy the law despite it having been politely and expressly brought to your attention, I hope they do).

    • Um, the mention of “that baby’s going to be a collector’s item” and “Get ‘em while they’re legal-ish” implies that this cover won’t be reprinted. And the “don’t need any of that sweet corporate booze money to redo the cover.” implies that next print (if any) will indeed use different cover, without costing JD

  91. alterSchwede says:

    I just want to let you know that i just bought your book, which i would never even heard of without this letter (i’m from germany).
    Funny how things end ;)

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  93. Bored Visitor says:

    FAKE.
    Free advertising for Jack Daniels AND an unknown book.
    Win-win, boring…

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  97. I have less sympathy for your cause, having first seen the previous blog post where you cut out all the parts that show that JD was very reasonable when contacting you. That was pretty tacky.

    • No harm intended. I only posted the partial letter because I didn’t know if I was allowed to show the whole thing. Once I got the green light from my publisher I posted the entire thing.

  98. Semih Akalin says:

    Give that Marketing exec a raise..and a drink… amazing brand management.

  99. Bernd Paysan says:

    Print another edition, with the same cover (and for marketing reasons: pretend it is still the first edition). They have absolutely no legal standing here: trademarks are bound to categories of salable goods. A book is a book and a bottle of whiskey is a boll of hicks ey (after consuming it). Two entirely different categories.

    That’s why they are nice. They have nothing, so they can only politely ask you. Jack Daniels uses the same strong-arm methods as they all use when they have a legal standing.

    • Johnny Rojo says:

      Damn! That’s what I wanted to say. I salute you.

    • jt says:

      There’s still something to be said for not being a douche-bag even though it may be perfectly legal to be one.

    • Scarlett says:

      Untrue – Jack Daniels Co. is famous for its work ethic and corporate responsibility. Even though they have to serve lemonade at the end of any plant tours, it is a nice facility to vist. On topic – the contents of the book, from my brief scan, are not augmented at all by the cover design – so, it appears to be a blatant ploy to make the book sell. Not a bad idea, on the surface, but sad if that’s all you can think of to help get book sales. Plus, when one receives a polite request, one should respond in kind instead of trying to make it a David vs. Goliath story. Glad to see an author making a success – it’s sad, though, it had to be in such a manner. I am a Southerner – born and bred in the South – but, to nip any sniping in the bud, I’ve also been in corporate marketing, communications and I’m a published author.

      • jt says:

        I agree completely. It’s unethical to use someone else’s work in this way. There’s no way the author could have gone through the entire publishing process without thinking a rip-off of the JD label would attract attention either through a lawsuit, or just by making it stand out on shelves by using someone else’s very familiar design.

  100. Bruce says:

    Wowser – I loves me some good writin’.

  101. Adrienne says:

    Definitely a well-structured letter and I respect my fellow San Franciscan! You should send Christy Susman your thoughts on her Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/christy.susman or would that be illegal?

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  108. Marti says:

    Congratulations on your book and getting all this great publicity! I wish you much success in the future. As an indie author myself, I know how hard it is to get anyone’s attention, so bless your heart!

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  110. ROG-i says:

    Having read through all the comments I must admit, that for me those of Johnny Rojo seem to capture the issue best – exept that he might have missed that the whole situation could be the mentioned WIN-WIN case and everything has been settled beforehand.( Would any publishing company with all their expertise in IPR take this obvious risk?) But even if their IPR dept was too lousy to check before – well, than JD obviously has launched their new WEB 2/3.0 campaining with fulminant success and we all are their new brand ambassadors. Congrats!

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  114. Kate says:

    I will surely a book and read it. It will be a pleasant time for me.

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  117. Mark says:

    You’re an ass for not re-designing the book. Their logic is sound and your borrowing of their artwork just makes you lazy.

    • Paul says:

      How dare you use logic and the law to argue a point. Most of the commenters here are all about sticking it to the man. Go with the crowd, get all touchy feely. Start “Occupy Jack Daniels”. Be more like Johnny Rojo. Just kidding. You are spot on!

    • I think you misunderstood. We are absolutely redesigning the cover, just not accepting any money. Sorry for the confusion.

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  119. davidmland says:

    I’ve been taught not to judge a book by its cover. But I’m buying a copy of your book — despite having no idea what it’s about, really — because of its cover.

    That said, there are plenty of ways you could change the cover to honor their classy C&D. Think of any bottle of good Scotch you’ve ever consumed and make it feel like that. You can DO this. I know you can.

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  146. Prattle On, Boyo says:

    Let’s hope this kind corporate courtesy sets good precedent for the legal nastigrams wrtten en masse by not-so-nice other general counsel of other companies.

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  150. Jack says:

    That’s a wonderful C & D letter – a great lesson for every attorney.

    Johnny Rojo: Fighting JD here would not be a righteous struggle against The Man, the jackbooted corporate hegemony stomping the 99% to a pulp… It would be a losing battle, and a pointless one.

    Quite simply, you’re wrong on the law, and you don’t know enough to know it. Luckily, the publisher knows better (“Noo!” you say. “The weak publisher was just cowed by the bullying tactics of The Oppressor!!!”). Okay!

  151. dave says:

    How rare it is these days to see a company acknowledge a fan and not treat them as a thief!

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  155. kavithas says:

    While this is all still hot, can we send the book to you for an autograph? :)

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  158. Arguably one of the best written pieces of corporate communications. I mean the letter sent to the publisher by the brand owners of Jack Daniel’s.

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  175. Seriously happy I came across this blog site today has cheered me up quite frankly

  176. whiskeypeepee says:

    Yes, this makes me happy too. Too bad their whiskey sucks.

    No, I’m not trolling nor am I a snooty hipster that’s just too cool for JD because it’s too mainstream or some BS. Look at the bottle you just went out and bought, long time Jack drinker. While imbibing the preferred drink of Frank Sinatra, and Janice Joplin, feeling a little bit better about the world because as bland and homogenized as modern corporate culture is becoming, it’s nice to know that some things never change. And, hey, it turns out their lawyers are nice folks in the bargain.

    Now look at the part that says 80 proof. Standard issue issue for most unflavored hard liquor. Are you the sort who likes to keep empties on a high shelf to decorate? Then go ahead and pull that bottle down that’s been collecting dust for 10 years. I’ll betcha it says 86 proof. In fact next time you’re going through the attic at your grandparents’ house and come across an old bottle, I’ll betcha it’s going to say 90 proof.

    Besides, I think JD tastes like an old tire. It seems the icon is well polished but the drink itself has become an overpriced parody of itself. As far as I’m concerned Jack Daniels has gone the way of wine coolers and Zima. What was once a national treasure is now the stuff of milquetoast yuppies and drunk sorority girls.

    Kudos to their legal team, though.

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  178. That’s funny. My book on Amazon (and Smashwords) has a brilliant cover that a friend did, and after looking at it for awhile, I was like “is that Megan Fox???” and he laughed and said yes, that was the basis for the female character.

    Maybe I’ll have Megan write me a lovely letter, and then IIIIIIIIIII will rake in millions of dollars too! (+/- millions of dollars).

    Best of luck with your book, Patrick!

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  180. Rocky Rosa says:

    Thanks for sharing the sad truth about the kind of money successful authors typically make. Btw, if you haven’t heard this already, that “cease-and-desist” letter from Jack Daniel’s was straight out of Dale Carnegie. I’d bet my bottom dollar that the attorney who wrote it was either a graduate of the course or that the company itself utilized Carnegie’s consultants.

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  182. Wow, very pleasant way they asked. Most companies would have not been so nice. Go ahead and accept their offer to help pay for the redesign of your artwork. It may bring you additional media attention and sales of your book.

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  185. Guy’s right about the watering-down. Not that long ago (counting in decades) I had one of the worst hangovers of my career after drinking 90 proof JD. Ripping off artwork’s not a good thing. I knew the guy who designed the Campbell soup can. Warhol made millions, he was paid for a day’s work. But as a general rule, authors never have anything to do with cover art—though the publisher should have known better. Amazing too how many folks buy books for reasons having nothing to do with the contents. Nicely played, Patrick!

    • You hit the nail on the head. I had no hand in creating the art, but I am very fortunate folks have found my work through the controversy. I can only hope they enjoy what they find. And if not, the book is good at combating wobbly desks.

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  189. Instead of flatly but politely refusing their offer “to contribute a reasonable amount towards the cost …”, I wonder what would have happened if you had responded that you would be happy to change the cover, but would like them to have their design artists create a cover that retains the same distinctive feeling as the current one but which does not put their brand at risk? You even could have offered to give their company credit for the design in the book and/or on the back cover. This would have been a win-win proposal. You would get a great cover at no additional cost, and they would get some positive exposure for their corporate image. Sometimes an unfortunate bad situation (through no malice on your behalf) can be turned into an opportunity for good results for everyone involved. At least it would not have hurt anything to suggest it.

    • Hey Tyger, thanks for the response. Where were you eight months ago! :) That would have been interesting. My publisher wanted to stay out of JD’s hair, I think, so they handled it themselves. JD still got a ton of great attention for how cool they were about the whole situation. Well deserved, too.

      Best,
      Patrick

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  204. Lagaviolin says:

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