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Fireball and JD in cinnamon whisky lawsuit

Sazerac is suing Jack Daniel’s for allegedly infringing the trademark of its Fireball Cinnamon Whisky brand in a Google advert for Tennessee Fire.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire are embroiled in a trademark lawsuit

As reported by Law360, Sazerac has accused Jack Daniel’s of using Google search advertising to “confuse” consumers and “divert” Fireball sales to its own Tennessee Fire variant.

The firm has accused Brown-Forman of using Google AdWords to purchase keywords that caused consumers searching for Fireball to instantly find pages for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire.

It has therefore requested that Jack Daniel’s be banned from using the word “Fireball” in marketing of its cinnamon-flavoured Tennessee Fire brand extension.

Fireball first launched in 1998, with trademarks registered between 2004 and 2013. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire registered its trademark in 2013 and launched the following year.

Since its soft roll-out, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, a 35% abv blend of Jack Daniel’s with a “red hot” cinnamon liqueur, has experienced rapid growth, while Fireball recorded sales of US$65m in 2013.

Cited by Law360, the suit reads: “It is readily apparent that defendant deliberately chose to purchase ‘Fireball’ as a Google AdWords and include either ‘Fireball’ or ‘Fire-Ball’ in the text and headers of its ads triggered by searches for ‘Fireball’ in order to create a false association with or subversively divert consumers away from Sazerac’s Fireball brand.”

Sazerac has asked requested disgorgement of Jack Daniel’s profits associated with the alleged infringement, in addition to payment for damages and costs.

In response the the lawsuit, Jack Daniel’s owner Brown Forman said: “The lawsuit is about common digital marketing practices and we will contest this legal action vigorously.”

In September this year, Sazerac settled a trademark lawsuit with a North Carolina brewery and its Fire Flask malt liquor.

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