The Grumpy Cat is getting some additional publicity, but not for a new meme, commercial, or t-shirt design. This time, it’s because Tardar Sauce (the cat’s real name), has been awarded $710,000 in a case by a California federal court. According to Grumpy Cat’s lawyer David Jonelis, it was the first time an internet meme had won a court case. And now you know why this story interests us.
According to the case, Grumpy Cat Limited sued the owners of US coffee company Grenade for exceeding an agreement over the cat’s image. Grenade only had rights to use the cat’s image to sell an ice drink called “Grumppuccino”. Instead, they sold other Grumpy products by selling roasted coffee and Grumppucino t-shirts.
Grumpy cat is famous, mostly online, for its permanent scowl caused by feline dwarfism and an under-bite that makes her lower jaw extend forward. Tardar Sauce’s career first took off in 2012 when the cat owner’s brother began posting memes with funny text captions.
In 2013 a $150,000 deal was stuck by Grenade Beverage, owned by father and son Nick and Paul Sandford an ice coffee beverage featuring the Grumpy Cat. They were sued in 2015 for breach of contract and countersued that Grumpy Cat had failed to mention its brand enough on social media and tv.
According to the complaint in court papers: “Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, the defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about.” Awww…poor Tardar Sauce!
The California Federal Judge sided with Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat’s owner, ordering the payment of $710,000 in damages for copyright and trademark infringement, as well as a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract. According to Courthouse News, the kitty made an appearance in court but wasn’t present for the verdict.
Are you thinking that this is all a bit over the top. Maybe not. Tarder Sauce is six-years old and has a company in her name, clothing, calendars, soft toys, coffee (obviously), a Christmas film, and also has 1.42 million followers on Twitter, 2.4 million on Instagram, and almost nine million likes on Facebook. Oh yes, she also has a book deal, and has had an appearance in a Friskies commercial.
It’s all been enough for Bundesen to quit her waitress gig and manage her cat’s career full-time. We see no reason to be grumpy about that!