Jan 14, 2016

Grumpy Cat has Cause to be...Well...Grumpy!

Grumpy Cat is a cat with a permanent grumpy face due to an under bite and feline dwarfism. Her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, posted a picture of the cat to social news website Reddit in 2012 and an official Grumpy Cat page was subsequently launched on Facebook. By December 2014 the Facebook page had over 8 million likes - a star was born!

There is now a range of Grumpy Cat merchandise available including toys, books and a branded coffee drink called Grumppuccino. Grumpy Cat's owner, Grumpy Cat Limited, holds a number of US copyright registrations and US trade mark registrations for the image of the cat and also for the word mark GRUMPY CAT.

California-based company Grenade Beverage LLC has a license agreement with Grumpy Cat Limited, providing limited rights to sell a line of iced coffee drinks under the brand Grumppuccino and using the image of Grumpy Cat. The drinks are sold under domain names GrumpyCat.com and DrinkGrumpyCat.com.  Grenade do not have rights under the license to sell any other products.  The license agreement states that any further product offerings would require further negotiations and approval from Grumpy Cat Limited. Despite Grumpy Cat's refusal to agree to extend the license agreement, Grenade proceeded to market a range of Grumpy Cat roasted coffee beans.

Grumpy Cat Limited learned that Grenade were selling the roasted coffee in 2015 and recently filed a federal lawsuit in the US against them.

Grumpy Cat's owner claims that Grenade's new product breaches the licensing agreement. Grumpy Cat Limited has requested an injunction to stop Grenade's sales of the coffee beans, damages of $150,000 for each copyright infringement, and $100,000 for Grenade's exploitation of the domain name GrumpyCat.com.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in the article do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or at legal@mcdanielslaw.com

Posted by: in: Case Law, Companies, Contract, News, Trade Marks

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