January 24, 2018 8:09 pm

‘Grumpy Cat’ just won over US$700K in federal copyright lawsuit

In this Nov. 14, 2016 photo, Grumpy Cat poses for photos in New York.

AP Photo/Richard Drew
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The internet sensation we all know as Grumpy Cat has just won over US$700,000 (approximately C$864,000) in a copyright lawsuit.

The cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce, who became famous in 2012 after photographs of her grumpy expression rocketed across the web. The BBC reports that the photos were originally posted to Reddit by the brother of the cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, of Morristown, Ariz.

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The popularity of Grumpy Cat allowed Bundesen to quit her job as a waitress, and eventually led her to form Grumpy Cat Limited, reports the Washington Post. The company went on to produce a line of clothing, pillows, mugs, pens, bags, books and other paraphernalia. The Post reports that the company earned between $1 million and $100 million during the first few years after its creation.

In 2015 however, the Post goes on to report that Grumpy Cat Limited and the Grenade beverage company entered into an intellectual property dispute that began with a licensing deal struck between the two companies in 2013.

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“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,” read the complaint. 

Nick and Paul Sandford, the owners of Grenade, entered into a licensing deal with Grumpy Cat Limited several years ago to sell a line of branded iced coffee called “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino.” However, in 2015, the complaint states that the company went ahead and created a line of “Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee.”

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Grumpy Cat Limited then filed a copyright lawsuit in federal court, claiming that the new line of coffee wasn’t part of the original licensing deal. Grenade was further alleged by Grumpy Cat to have created a line of unauthorized Grumppuccino T-shirts.

The complaint went on to state that Grenade’s T-shirt line “blatantly infringe on the Grumpy Cat copyrights and Grumpy Cat trademarks.”

However, the Sandfords counter-sued on the claim that Grumpy Cat Limited had not held up its side of the deal, which the BBC reports involved mentioning its brand a sufficient amount on social media and during a television appearance.

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Two years after the original suit was filed, a California jury sided with the owner of the cat behind what might be the world’s most universally recognized meme.

Grumpy Cat Limited was awarded $710,000 in damages for copyright and trademark infringement, and a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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