The defendant’s product traces its origins back to the tradition of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, the Appalachian moonshiner whose unapologetic stance on making “likker” made him a local legend, and somewhat of a posthumous folk hero. Rather than serving an 18 month sentence in Federal prison for brewing “white lightning,” Popcorn committed suicide at the age of 62 in March 2009. His colorful and controversial history inspired quite a few artists to record songs in tribute to his memory, including Hank Williams III, the son of country music star Hank Williams Jr, who is a financial backer of the Popcorn Sutton brand.
In order to maintain a legal hold on its trademarks, Jack Daniel’s (which has also recently started selling its own white whiskey) must vigorously defend any suspected infringements. That being said, many wonder why more widely-distributed brands such as Evan Williams—a bigger fish to fry than relative newcomer Popcorn Sutton—weren’t their first targets for a lookalike lawsuit. In the meantime, Brown-Forman’s flagship brand is demanding that Popcorn Sutton discontinue packaging their moonshine in a manner that will “deceive and confuse the public.”