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Wild Turkey and Old Crow Give Each Other the Bird... In Court

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 12, 2011 01:00 PM

Wild Turkey's new commercial won't make it on TV but that doesn't mean it won't be seen. Currently the spot is going viral all thanks to a simple (albeit vulgar) twist.

The new commercial hides a background copyright battle for the tagline "Give 'em the Bird," in which Wild Turkey has sued bird-named-liquor Old Crow and, in return, Old Crow has sued back. Yes, the claws are out.

As Wild Turkey's latest ad picks up steam, its lawsuit against Jim Beam Brands Co. is picking up steam in a Kentucky federal court.

The suit accuses Jim Beam's Old Crow brand (both owned by Fortune Brands) of using the "Give them the Bird" tagline in ads, a tagline Wild Turkey parent Rare Breed Distilling LLC claims to have used since 2006.

Rare Breed's lawsuit alleges that "Four (4) years after Plaintiff had begun use of the GIVE THEM [‘EM] THE BIRD mark, Jim Beam embarked on a campaign to unfairly entice consumers to purchase its Old Crow bourbon whiskey by using the identical mark in connection with its Old Crow bourbon whiskey. By doing this, Jim Beam deceives consumers into associating Jim Beam’s Old Crow bourbon whiskey products with Plaintiff’s Wild Turkey® bourbon whiskey products."

The suit goes on to say that Old Crow attempted to register "Give 'em the Bird" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2010 (still pending) and that it "thereafter refused to acknowledge Plaintiff’s prior rights… and has continued to use the mark on its website at www.oldcrowreserve.com."

Wild Turkey's claim to the tagline begins with a 1977 trademark registration for "The Bird is the Word" and goes on the state that "Give 'em the Bird" was first used when the brand sponsored the National Turkey Calling Championships in 2009.

But then Rare Breed filed a counterclaim claiming, according to Wine and Spirits Daily, that Old Crow had "only vaguely identified two sporadic instances in which the phrases 'Give Them The Bird' and 'Give 'Em The Bird' were used as advertising slogans." It also demanded from Wild Turkey an "award of three times the profits realized by Rare Breed from its infringement as well as its unfair competition with Beam."

Who exactly will get the bird remains to be seen; and either way, one of them is going to be eating crow.


Joseph G. United States says:

Whether it's their tagline or not, Wild Turkey's new ad is pretty memorable. I can see that catching on in bars!

July 13, 2011 09:44 AM #

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