Let’s face it: The law can be a pretty dry subject. So when something out of the norm occurs, disrupting our boring little universe, we tend to stand up and take notice. And there have been some fairly odd occurrences lately in the justice system. Take, for example, the following:
Best. Cease and Desist. Ever
Bud Light has gotten a lot of marketing mileage out of its latest ad campaign—a medieval themed series of commercials touting the beer with its “dilly dilly” slogan. So when Minneapolis-based Modist Brewery released its latest craft brew, called “Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA,” you just knew that the small brewery would be hearing from Anheuser-Busch’s intellectual property lawyers pretty quickly. But kudos to those lawyers on the amusing way in which they chose to address the dispute. In December, Bud Light had a man dressed as a medieval town crier personally show up at Modist Brewery’s office to deliver a tongue-in-cheek cease and desist letter. The “crier”, reading from a parchment scroll, informed Modist that while Anheuser Busch was “very flattered by your royal tribute,” the phrase “Dilly Dilly” was “the motto of our realm.” And while the folks at Bud Light were OK with a one-time only run of Modist’s beer, further “disobedience” would be met with “additional scrolls, then a formal warning, and finally, a private tour of the Pit of Misery.” Modist’s lawyer, Jeff O’Brien, appreciated the unusual cease and desist letter and promised that his client would comply. “They did it in a funny way and protected their mark,” O’Brien said. “I thought it was a really cool way of handling it.” Dilly Dilly, indeed.
You Mean My Mom Was Lying?
As a child, you probably were told by your mother that your favorite comfort food was made with love. But apparently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s lawyers frown on companies claiming that their products are made with love. According to a Sept. 22 letter that Massachusetts’ Nashoba Brook Bakery received from the FDA, the company had misbranded its granola by including “love” as one of the ingredients. The agency’s humorless letter admonished that “Love is not a common or unusual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not a part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.” Nashoba CEO John Gates noted that “It sounds like a lawyer wrote that language,” insisting that love is actually “a really important part of what we do.”
Don’t Pop Those Corks Just Yet
The Canadian budget airline Sunwing is facing a lawsuit from a disgruntled passenger, Daniel MacDuff, over its claims of “champagne service.” According to the suit, MacDuff expected an actual champagne toast, only to receive cheaper sparkling wine served in a plastic cup. The airline called the suit “frivolous and without merit,” insisting that terms like “champagne service” referred to the level of service, not the specific type of drink. MacDuff’s lawyer, Sebastien Paquette, maintains that this case is not about petty differences in wine quality, but about deceptive marketing to unsuspecting consumers. Let’s hope the judge has a bubbly personality.
On the Plus Side, It Probably Livened Up Jury Duty
OK, I get it—people often try to avoid jury duty, while those resigned to doing their civic duty try to make it as palatable as possible. But hopefully no one will take it as far as 23-year-old Tyler Huckaby did in Tyler last summer. Huckaby showed up for jury duty at the Smith County Courthouse with a Coca-Cola cup, but others soon noted that he seemed sluggish and was slurring his words. Suspicious deputies smelled alcohol and asked Huckaby what was in the cup. He confirmed it was beer, and was promptly arrested for public intoxication after he stumbled in the jury room.
You heard it here first, folks: Don’t drink and deliberate.
John G. Browning is a shareholder at Passman & Jones in Dallas, where he handles a variety of civil litigation in state and federal courts.