The jury is in, and awarded $710,001 to Grumpy Cat Ltd. for its lawsuit against Grenade Beverage for copyright and trademark infringement.
Grumpy Cat Ltd. not only owns the actual grumpy cat, but many common law and registered trademarks and copyrights for the name “Grumpy Cat” and images of the internet’s fav bundle of fur. And as the valid owner of this intellectual property, it has entered numerous licensing agreements to allow others to use the image or name for shirts, mugs, etc.
The specific licensing agreement at issue was for Grenade Beverage to use Grumpy Cat’s copyrighted and trademarked image and name to produce an iced coffee called “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino.” This agreement contained key legal terms, and importantly included a clause that gave Grumpy Cat Ltd. prior approval of all uses of the name and image. Some may think this is asking too much, after all Grenade Beverage was paying for the use anyways right?
Well, not only is this type of clause common and necessary, it just makes sense. Part of owning intellectual property is making sure no one is using it without authorization to ensure its value stays high, and it is being used the way it is meant to be used. In fact, if licensors slack off too much they can lose their intellectual property rights entirely!
So, after Grump Cat Ltd. denied Grenade’s request to use the images and name for other products like coffee grounds and shirts, and Grenade proceeded to use them anyways, the company initiated this lawsuit.
Grumpy Cat Ltd. did a purrfect job policing its intellectual property and made it clear that it does not play a game of cat and mouse when it comes to licensing agreements.