An Orange County jury awarded the Grumpy Cat $710,001 in damages this week after a beverage company allegedly failed to honor the kitty with the infamous sourpuss image.
“Grumpy Cat Limited” corporation sued Grenade Beverage LLC after signing a contract in 2015 for Grumpy Cat to be the official image for a new iced-coffee drink called Grumpuccino. But the relationship soured, and Grumpy Cat’s filed a complaint stating: “Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about.”
Grumpy Cat Limited sued Grumpy Beverage LLC and its owners, Paul Sandford and Nick Sandford, for cybersquatting on Grumpy Cat’s image on social media and for improper accounting of trademark and copyright royalty payments.
Grenade claimed that Grumpy Cat did not uphold its responsibilities to promote Grumpuccino online and to claim on TV interviews that the kitty was out to displace Starbucks’ iced-coffee.
But an eight-member jury in a Santa Ana federal courtroom unanimously found that Grenade violated its agreement with Grumpy Cat with unauthorized use of the image of the most famous cat on the planet to try to sell other company products.
Grumpy Cat’s “mommy,” Tabatha Bundesen, was working as a waitress in an New York Red Lobster before her brother posted a picture on Reddit of her dwarfish female cat with a distinct under-bite named Tardar Sauce in 2012.
The response went viral and Grumpy Cat Limited emerged to commercialize the kitty frown image that generated about $99.5 million in royalties over the next two years.
Grumpy Cat has starred in Friskies commercials for several years and was inducted into the Friskies Hall of Fame. Grumpy has also done numerous commercials, TV cameo appearances, and speaking engagements. The cat has aunched merchandise lines and even headlined in two made-for TV movies.
With the hectic life of a major class A celebrity, Grumpy Cat’s image was recently estimated by the Huffington Post to be worth about $100 million.
Plaintiff’s attorneys stated that despite the court victory, Grumpy Cat is still frowning on the entire experience.