Trademark. Grumpy Cat.
Grumpy Cat is a protectable trademark. Her real name is Tardar Sauce, is an American Internet celebrity, and the source identifier for many products. Born in April 2012, she is known for her permanently “grumpy” facial appearance. Bryan Bundesen, the brother of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, posted a photo of the cat on the website Reddit in 2012. The photo went viral, and, the rest is history.
The grumpy little kitty has since been the talk of the town, and has made her owner a very wealthy woman. This fabulously famous feline with the big blue eyes and the permanent frown on her face has become the it girl of the moment. Her owner, Tabitha Bundesen, built a kitty empire around her beloved pet under Grumpy Cat Limited. She has parlayed her grumpy kitty’s face into a multi million dollar industry with trademarks, copyrights, licensing deals, merchandise.
FYI, because I do not have a license to use the real Grumpy Cat’s image, I purchased an image of a grumpy cat.
This cat makes more money in merchandising than almost any big celebrity. With an array of toys, greeting cards, t-shirts, books and all sorts of nick knacks, she rocks! She is adorable pet, with what some see as a permanently unhappy, or grumpy demeanor. Not to mention a Lifetime movie featuring the cat and a wax figure at Madame Tussauds in NYC.
In 2013, Bundesen set up a licensing agreement with the Grenade beverage company to allow the use of the her prized asset’s face to be affixed to the packaging of their iced coffee drink–Grumpy Cat Grumpuccin.
Then in 2015, Grenade created a coffee line called the Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee. According to Bundesen, the coffee line was not part of their original contract, and the cat’s animation was used without her consent. Grenade counter-sued claiming that that Grumpy Cat Limited “refused to provide any continuing support whatsoever” that was a part of their licensing agreement. A California jury ruled in favor of Bundesen and the Grumpy Cat Limited, awarding the company $710,000 in damages. Bundesen’s attorney, David Jonelis, mentioned that the decision is “just verdict.”
I’m Francine Ward, what are your thoughts? Join my conversation in my Law Facebook Fan Page, my Law Twitter Page, Google+, or in one of my LinkedIn Group discussions.