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Still Game stars win trademark battle with Jack Daniel’s

The stars of BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game have won a trademark case with Jack Daniel’s over the naming of their Jack and Victor whisky.

Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill played their characters, feisty Glaswegian pensioners Jack Jarvis and Victor McDade, across 62 televised episodes from the series’ premiere in 2002 to its conclusion in 2019.

In 2021, the double act debuted a blended Scotch whisky named after their characters. Retailing for £35, the spirit is described on the brand website as “the perfect blend for good times, family, and auld pals”, and is produced by Loch Lomond Distillery.

But a hiccup came when the pair attempted to register ‘Jack and Victor’ as a trademark for whisky with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) after objections from Jack Daniel’s.

The written ruling from UKIPO trademark hearing officer Heather Harrison mentioned concerns from the Tennessee whiskey juggernaut’s lawyers: “The opponent’s pleaded case is that the relevant public will believe that the contested mark is used by the opponent or by a party economically connected with or endorsed by the opponent…It further claims that use of the contested mark would constitute free-riding by the applicant on the reputation of the opponent.”

However, the hearing found that, given the huge popularity of Still Game in Scotland, the name ‘Jack and Victor’ would not be confused with the Jack Daniel’s trademarks of ‘Jack’ and ‘Gentleman Jack’. To give perspective on the size of its audience, one episode of the series, broadcast on 15 March 2018, was the most-watched TV programme in Scotland of that year, raking in 1,373,000 viewers, just under a quarter of the northern nation’s total population.

Having lost the case, Jack Daniel’s has been ordered to pay £3,200 to Jack and Victor Limited, and the registration of the ‘Jack and Victor’ trademark can proceed unimpeded.

An Instagram meme from the official Jack and Victory whisky account gave its side to the legal proceedings:

The use of names for drinks brands can be a highly contentious issue. In 2018, BrewDog won its battles against the Elvis Presley estate over the naming of its Elvis Juice beer.

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