California Intellectual Property Blog


Grumpy Cat Wins $710,001 Copyright Lawsuit Against Grenade Beverage

Orange County – Back in 2012, a Snowshoe Siamese cat named Tardar Sauce became an Internet sensation through photos of the cat’s signature grumpy expression. Tardar Sauce is now infamously known as Grumpy Cat. The cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, created Grumpy Cat Limited to create business opportunities for the cat. The following year in 2013, Grenade Beverage paid $150,000 and signed an agreement to use the cat’s image on its ‘Grumpuccino’ iced coffee.

Shortly after, Grenade started using the cat’s image on other products including t-shirts and other beverages. Grumpy Cat Limited claimed that these uses were not authorized, and so in 2015 Grumpy Cat Limited sued Grenade Beverage for exceeding the agreement and committing copyright infringement. Grenade Beverage responded with a countersuit, stating that Grumpy Cat Limited had not held up its side of the agreement. Grenade Beverage explained that part of the agreement was that Grumpy Cat Limited would promote the coffee by making the Grenade Beverage brand present on Grumpy Cat’s social media.

Grenade Beverage’s attorney pointed out that the product was only promoted 17 times and that Grumpy Cat’s appearance on a Fox News show to promote the coffee was a “disaster” because Grumpy Cat’s people did not refer to the agreed talking points they were given. Allegedly, Grumpy Cat Limited had also told Grenade Beverage that Grumpy Cat would co-star with Jack Black and Will Ferrell in an upcoming movie, which never happened. Grumpy Cat did, however, star in her own Christmas movie that earned a 5 out of 10 star rating. Apart from negotiating movie deals, Grumpy Cat Limited also donates to shelters that help save animals.

Grumpy Cat was present during the January trial, but was not there for the final verdict. The California Jury ended up siding with Grumpy Cat Limited. Grumpy Cat Limited had initially asked for $600,000 in damages but were awarded $710,001 for copyright and trademark infringement, along with a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract.

Though not painful, Grumpy Cat’s face is said to be caused by an underbite and feline dwarfism. Regardless, the six-year-old Tardar is an incredible feline. She has her own business, a massive fan base, has travelled the world, and now can boast of a $710,001 court victory.


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