Grumpy Cat gets into an IP Spat
“Don’t make me Grumpier than I feel already, or I WILL see you in Court.” – Grumpy Cat
Note: Dear Readers, you will probably best enjoy this post after viewing this video of Grumpy Cat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoSep_Otcvg
Yes, Grumpy Cat a.k.a Tardar Sauce has achieved more than most humans, she is the first cat to have been immortalized by Madame Tussauds wax museum as of 8th December 2015. She has authored three books, been on the American Idol and featured on the covers of Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. Grumpy Cat went viral on the Internet after her owners posted a photograph, full with her unique expression on the news site Reddit on 22nd September 2012.
Since then, her owners have started a company, Grumpy Cat Limited. The owners acquired Copyrights and Trademarks (for the word mark “Grumpy Cat”) in December 2012 and May 2014 respectively, and the company has been very successful thanks to the huge merchandise and product sales, reportedly amounting to almost $100 million dollars in just two short years. For better perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo, top footballer reported earnings close to $42.2 million.
What has the Ohio based cat been up to recently? As of 11th December, 2015 she’s taken to the courts to sue Grenade Beverages, a limited liability company owned by Nick & Paul Sanford, based in Orange County, California, that sells beverages in Los Angeles and other areas. The suit has been filed at the United States District Court of California.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff’s Grumpy Cat Limited entered into a License Agreement in May 2013, granting the defendants limited rights to use Grumpy Cat’s registered copyright and trademark for sale, offer for sale of “a line of Grumpy Cat-branded coffee products” in exchange for royalties as well as a monetary advance and any further use of the intellectual property which would be subject to approval from the owners as well as further negotiations. The plaintiff’s claim that the intent of the agreement was a mutual understanding for the sale of a product titled “Grumppuccino”, an iced coffee beverage made by Grenade.
But, recently, Grenade Beverages have started another line of products, namely, ground coffee beans/ roasted coffee sold under Grumpy Cat titles. The plaintiff’s allege that such a product is not covered by the license as they never approved such use. The suit makes reference to several E-mail exchanges between the companies in October 2015. In view of the above, the plaintiff is alleging the infringement of intellectual property held by Grump Cat Limited and claiming damages, profits from the sale of unauthorized products, attorney’s fees and full costs of litigation, while simultaneously seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction “prohibiting further infringements of (it’s) exclusive copyrights etc.
In total, Grumpy Cat’s lawsuit lists seven claim’s of relief, resulting in damages to the tune of $150,000 for the various IP infringements, as well as additional damages of $100,000 for exploitation of the domain name by the defendant’s website, “www.drinkgrumpycat.com”
It would be appropriate to conclude with the cheeky opening lines of the lawsuit itself: “ Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about.
Authored by Chirag Ravishankar