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Grumpy Cat Wins a $710,000 in copyright and trade mark infringement claim

March 23, 2018, By

Anyone would be grumpy if their IP was infringed, cat or otherwise, and so it comes as no surprise that Grumpy Cat Limited recently sued the owners of US coffee company Grenade Beverage for breaching an agreement over the use of the cat’s brand and image.

Originally posted on Reddit, by the brother of the cat’s owner, the Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) quickly went viral as users added humorous text and captions to the pictures.

In 2013 Grenade Beverage, owned by Nick and Paul Stanford, negotiated a $150,000 deal to market an iced coffee (the “Grumppuccino”) with the cat’s scowl on its packaging. The recent court filing claimed that Grenade had breached the terms of this contract by selling roasted coffee and Grumppucino T-shirts.

Grumpy Cat Limited argued that Grenade “blatantly infringed” the Grump Cat’s copyright and trade marks. A California federal jury agreed and decided on a payment of $710,000 in damages, as well as a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract.

Briffa Comment

Although the parties started with good intentions and did the right thing by entering into a contract, things quickly unravelled when one party went beyond what was agreed. Fortunately however the cranky kitty was able to use the contract to clearly show where the breach lay and ultimately secure damages to account for it. This is a lesson to all rights owners, grumpy or otherwise, that a well drafted contract can pay dividends in a contentious situation… and we hope the judgment managed to put a smile on the face of our feline friend!

Latoya Beckford & William Miles