Cat wins copyright suit with huge payout

| Jan 25, 2018 | Copyright Law

Imagine if your pet could bring in a steady paycheck for you, let alone a $710,000 lump sum payout, just for looking grumpy! Well, that is just what one “grumpy-looking” cat named Tardar Sauce has going for it.

The feline, first posted on Reddit (a social website) in 2012, along with funny captions, soon became famous for its unique expression. The cat has what is known as feline dwarfism along with an underbite giving it a sad and grumpy-looking scowl.

In 2013, the owners of Grenade Beverage made a $175,000 deal with the cat’s owner to use its image to market one of their beverages. The agreement was that the cat’s image would be used on their packaging of their iced coffee, properly named Grumpy Cat Grumpaccino.

In 2015, Grumpy Cat Limited filed a lawsuit against Grenade Beverage for infringing on their copyrights and trademarks. Allegedly, Grenade breached their contract by using the cat’s image on roasted coffee and T-shirts in addition to the beverage agreed upon in the contract.

Grenade Beverages filed a countersuit alleging that Grumpy Cat did not uphold their side of the contract. Apparently, they were supposed to advertise the brand on social media, as well as mention it in a television appearance, and had failed to do so.

The lucky cat won her case and was awarded $710,000 in damages from a California federal jury. Tardar Sauce now has her own company and retail merchandise, which includes soft toys, calendars and clothing. She has made television appearances and even starred in a Christmas film. That’s pretty impressive for a 6-year-old feline!

Some of the credit for her prosperity should probably go to the California copyright and infringement laws. Copyright laws are used for just such a purpose, to protect commercial artwork, writings, music or software from being used without permission by others for financial gain.

If you need to protect any of your own creations, have an attorney help you go through the copyright process to be sure it is done properly. Any agreements made regarding your copyrighted property should be carefully drafted by an attorney also.The wording can be very important should a lawsuit ever be necessary.

Source: BBC News, “Grumpy Cat wins $710,000 payout in copyright lawsuit,” Jan. 24, 2018