California Intellectual Property Blog


Tiger King’s Carole Baskins Faces New Trademark Infringement Battle

Tiger King's Carole Baskins files trademark infringement case.

The Netflix show Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness made both Joe Exotic and Carole Baskins household names. The two seemed to constantly be at each other’s throats, and their troubles reached new heights when Baskins successfully sued the “Tiger King” for trademark infringement. Even with Joe Exotic behind bars, though, Baskins is still dealing with intellectual property issues.

TTAB Case Over Tiger King Quote

If there’s one thing Carole Baskins has become known for – other than potentially feeding her husband to tigers – it’s the quote “hey all you cool cats and kittens.” She claims to have used this tagline since at least 2017, but it became internationally recognized when she spoke those words on Netflix’s popular Tiger King show in 2020.

This is the basis of the Notice of Opposition that Baskins filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) on March 8. In the filing, she opposes the application submitted by Daniel Brown for the phrase “hey all you cool cats and kittens” under Trademark Class 35. Brown intended to use the tagline in relation to “shirts, hats and general consumer merchandise.”

While the Tiger King star doesn’t seem to have her own registration over the tagline, this doesn’t necessarily mean she has no rights. In her Trademark Opposition, she claims that she has used the phrase in commerce for years. This may grant common law trademark rights even in the absence of a USPTO registration.  Another question is whether commercial use occurred.

The Case for Trademark Infringement

Carole Baskins has plenty of experience with trademark infringement cases. In fact, she was just recently given ownership of Joe Exotic’s zoo in order to satisfy a $1 million judgment against the Tiger King protagonist as he sits in prison. Unlike that case, the current issue has not found its way to federal courts. The Notice of Opposition is currently in the hands of the TTAB.

In her filing, Baskins says granting registration to Daniel Brown would “falsely suggest a connection” to her and create a likelihood of confusion among consumers. It seems her claim to commercial use of the tagline stems from “educational and charitable fundraising streaming videos related to big cat rights advocacy.”

Another major consideration is whether Brown knowingly infringed upon the phrase “hey all you cool cats and kittens.” This might be an easier issue to prove. Brown’s initial trademark application was filed on April 9, 2020 – less than three weeks following the release of Tiger King. 

What Happens Now?

It’s worth noting that – even though it’s not mentioned in her filing – Baskins has previously sold face masks featuring the phrase “hey all you cool cats and kittens.” This may improve her legal standing. Either way, Brown has until April 17 to file an answer with the TTAB.

If he chooses to do this and continue his case, the fight over ownership of the phrase made popular in Tiger King could extend into 2022. It could even go on longer than that if the parties decide to face off in federal court. The case is unlikely to last that long, but if you’ve seen the story of Carole Baskins and Joe Exotic, you know crazier things have happened.

Stay tuned for the TTAB’s decision over whether Brown’s trademark application filing is legitimate.


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