Grace – Cease and desist letter

Who’s ever heard of a polite cease and desist letter?

It’s clear that the cover of Patrick Wensink’s book, Broken Piano for President, is a rip-off of the label for Jack Daniel’s Old Time Tennessee Whiskey. So it’s no surprise to anyone that Jack Daniel’s senior trademark attorney wrote a cease and desist letter to Patrick Wensink for his cover design.

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As one would imagine, these letters are sent out as a threat, a shot across the bow, if you will, for trademark infringement. They are supposed to be threatening. They are designed to get you to comply with their wishes. What the lawyer for Jack Daniel’s wrote, however, is surprising. Here is a snippet:

“We are certainly flattered by your affection for the brand….while we can appreciate the pop culture appeal of Jack Daniel’s, we also have to be diligent to ensure that the Jack Daniel’s trademarks are used correctly. Given the brand’s popularity, it will probably come as no surprise that we come across designs like this on a regular basis. What may not be so apparent, however, is that if we allow uses like this one, we run the very real risk that our trademark will be weakened.

As a fan of the brand, I’m sure that is not something you intended or would want to see happen. …In order to resolve this matter, because you are both a Louisville ‘neighbor’ and a fan of the brand, we simply request that you change the cover design when the book is re-printed. If you would be willing to change the design sooner than that (including on the digital version), we would be willing to contribute a reasonable amount towards the costs of doing so.”

What? The lawyer asked politely! Even more amazing is that they were willing to pay for a redesign of the book’s cover! Jack Daniel’s approach to this has gone viral.

Though you may not agree with their product, their graceful and elegant response has made them look like a very kind and very human company.

The scripture says in Colossians 4:6 that our “speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (CSB). It also says in Romans 12:17 not to “repay anyone evil for evil” (CSB). How much further our reach, how much greater our influence, how much richer our leadership is when we can simply learn to be graceful and kind—even to those who have wronged us.

For more information on influencing people through kindness and grace, read the classic How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie through this affiliate link:

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