Diageo Threatens Legal Action Against the Proud Boys

If you’re part of a controversial political movement and you appropriate a well-known brand or logo, it looks like you can expect lawsuits.

According to The Drinks Business, alcohol giant Diageo has threatened legal action against the Proud Boys for allegedly selling merchandise that bears a similar logo to the Johnnie Walker Striding Man image. The legal threat came in response to an online news video that showed a man at a pro-gun demonstration in Virginia holding up a T-shirt with the words “Proud Boys” above a logo similar to Johnnie Walker’s symbol; it appeared along with the words “est. 2016,” the year that the violent political group was founded.

As VinePair notes, “Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man logo is perhaps as iconic as the Scotch itself,” and it dates back to 1908.

Johnnie Walker bottles
Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The anti-immigrant, all-male Proud Boys have been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and members were part of a larger faction of pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

A spokesperson for Diageo said use of the logo marked a “serious infringement of our intellectual property,” according to The Scotsman.

Last September, clothing brand Fred Perry released a statement denouncing the Proud Boys, threatening legal action and announcing a change to their own clothing line after members of the political group appropriated the brand’s (now discontinued) black polo shirts trimmed in yellow stripes. The chauvinist group was also banned from YouTube in 2018 for copyright infringement (and has been taken off of most mainstream social media). As well, the group’s own trademark is currently under review.

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