Los Angeles – A cat named Meowingtons is at the center of a recent trademark controversy. Meowingtons is a black and white cat adopted from the Humane Society by famous EDM DJ Deadmau5 (pronounced dead mouse). The Meowingtons trademark is currently registered to Emma Bassiri, but Deadmau5 is threatening to sue to cancel her trademark registration.
The DJ, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman, began using the Meowingtons name publicly in 2010. The Meowingtons name is an extensive brand. Several social media accounts are run under the name. There is a Meowingtons headphone line. The name is featured on Deadma5 merchandise, and even was the name of a tour. While the branding is distinct from Deadmau5 branding, it’s closely tied to the Deadmau5 brand.
In 2015, Zimmerman went to trademark the name Meowingtons and found it was already registered to Bassiri. Bassiri lives in Florida and uses the name for her website selling cat-themed merchandise, which opened in 2014.
Zimmerman claims Bassiri knows the name Meowingtons is connected to his business and is trying to profit off an implied connection, since she follows him on social media and even posted a picture of a nearly-identical cat from her social media. He said he made repeated requests for her to cease using the name, but thus far she has refused to comply.
Zimmerman makes multiple claims in a response to office action related to his trademark application. He has also argued that confusion among consumers is likely and to support this he claims to have evidence of actual confusion in the form of several examples of people asking if he’s involved with the store along with examples of people tagging his cat’s social media profile when posting about their purchase from Bassiri’s website.
Consumers aren’t just being confused about Zimmerman’s connection to the other site, Zimmerman argues his brand perception is being damaged by association. Bassiri’s company received an “F” rating by the Better Business Bureau, with complaints about product quality, customer service, and false and misleading advertising. These customer frustrations could damage their perception of Zimmerman’s Meowingtons brand.
Since Bassiri currently owns the trademark registration, Zimmerman cannot register it unless he is successful in canceling the prior registration. He argues he’s being deprived of the ability to control his intellectual property and that if the situation is not resolved, he will proceed to a court of law.