LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A white whiskey named for a famed Appalachian moonshiner started out being sold in Mason jars, to honor its roguish roots, but switched to square-shaped bottling.
That new look has the upstart distiller embroiled in a trademark-infringement fight with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.
The legal feuding pits an industry blue blood against a tiny distiller that proudly claims to carry on the tradition of moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.
Sutton, known for his long gray beard and faded overalls, took his own life in 2009 rather than go to prison for making white lightning.
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Now, the whiskey maker he inspired is facing its own legal problems.
The owner of the Jack Daniel’s trademark sued the Nashville, Tenn.-based distiller of Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey. The lawsuit claims the bottling and labeling for the Popcorn Sutton product is “confusingly similar” to the ubiquitous packaging for Jack Daniel’s.
The suit filed in Nashville wants the Popcorn Sutton bottle removed from the market. It says the new packaging hit the shelves in either late 2012 or early 2013.
The small distillery’s website says Popcorn Sutton’s white whiskey is available in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia.