Claws out as Grumpy Cat wins $928k in US suit

The famously moody-looking Grumpy Cat, who became an Internet meme and a hugely lucrative brand, was at the centre of a copyright infringement case in a California federal court against drinks company Granade Beverage over the use of the cat's face o
The famously moody-looking Grumpy Cat, who became an Internet meme and a hugely lucrative brand, was at the centre of a copyright infringement case in a California federal court against drinks company Granade Beverage over the use of the cat's face on products.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • It won't put a smile on its notoriously pouty face but Grumpy Cat, the feline who became an Internet meme and a hugely lucrative brand, has just won US$710,000 (S$928,000) in court.

The famously moody-looking moggy was at the centre of a copyright infringement case in a California federal court which culminated with the jury ruling in favour of its human pet Tabatha Bundsen.

The dispute was sparked by a deal between Granade Beverage and Ms Bundsen over the use of Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) for a line of iced coffee drinks.

The five-year-old Web sensation featured in a range of Granade's drinks - dubbed "Grumpiccionos".

But Ms Bundsen's company Grumpy Cat Limited argued that the drinks firm had gone beyond their contract by using the cat's face on a host of unauthorised products, including ground coffee.

A court document obtained by AFP on Wednesday showed the jury sided with Ms Bundsen, awarding her US$710,001. "We asked the jury what they thought was right and they came to the right conclusion," Grumpy Cat's lawyer David Jonelis said, adding he believed it was the first time an Internet meme had won a victory in court.

Grumpy Cat went global in 2012 when Ms Bundsen's brother posted a picture on Reddit of the moggy sporting its now ubiquitous angry-looking face - caused by a pronounced underbite. The cat quickly went viral, spawning reams of "lolcat" memes. It became a celebrity in its own right, making film and TV cameos and featuring in merchandise deals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Claws out as Grumpy Cat wins $928k in US suit'. Print Edition | Subscribe