Los Angeles – A Florida based entrepreneur is now suing professional entertainer Joel Zimmerman, better known by his stage name Deadmou5, in federal court over a cat name. The dispute began when Zimmerman filed a Petition to Cancel against Emma Bassiri’s Meowington trademark in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Ms. Bassiri owns the “Meowington” trademark registration, and Zimmerman owns a famous cat that goes by the name “Prof. Meowingtons.” Bassiri applied to register trademark “Meowingtons” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in July of 2014. Her application was approved without opposition from Zimmerman, or anyone else. Therefore, in March of 2015, Bassiri was granted the trademark for Meowingtons.
In 2014, Bassiri created Meowington.com which is an online retail store that caters to what she claims is an, “underserved demographic of cat owners and cat enthusiasts.” Prior to launching her business, she conducted extensive market research. During her process, she discovered that her first choice in brand name, “Meowington,” was available. Over the past three years, Meowington has been a leading producer of cat themed products, selling cat clothing, jewelry, bags, and various other associated products.
Zimmerman adopted his cat, Professor Meowingtons, in 2010. Professor Meowingtons is considered a minor celebrity. The pet cat has an online following, including thousands of social media followers across varied outlets. Zimmerman filed a petition with the USPTO to cancel Bassiri’s trademark after his application for Professor Meowingtons was rejected.
Zimmerman claims that Bassiri is a longtime fan of his music, was aware of his cat’s fame when she registered her trademark, and is seeking to draw a false connection between the two with a brand name that is “confusingly similar.”
Zimmerman filed his “Prof. Meowingtons” trademark application on an“intent-to-use” basis. To this day, he has not provided any evidence of when he has ever used the trademark to sell a product or service.
Regardless, Zimmerman is asserting his common law right to the trademark due to the prior fame of his cat which began in 2011. With the new federal lawsuit, it appears that neither party is willing to give up use of Meowington.