We all know Grumpy Cat. The frowning feline was a social media sensation five years back, with millions of people around the world falling for its irritated facial expression that never, ever changed.
Now the star of countless memes, Grumpy Cat — real name Tardar Sauce — has just been awarded $710,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit, and no, she’s still not smiling (though it can’t be easy trying to explain to a cat that it’s just bagged a large sum of money).
The award is the result of a long-running dispute between Grumpy Cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen of Morristown, Arizona, and a Los Angeles-based coffee company called Grenade Beverage.
In 2013, as Grumpy Cat’s grumpiness swept across the internet, Grenade Beverage struck a deal with Bundesen that allowed it to use the sourpuss’s likeness on a range of coffee drinks called “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino.”
The coffee company paid Grumpy Cat Limited a one-off fee of of $150,000 and everyone was happy (everyone except Tardar Sauce, of course).
The trouble started when Grenade Beverage was considered to have gone beyond the terms of the deal by using Grumpy Cat’s likeness on some of its other coffee products.
In response, the claws came out, as the cat’s legal team sued Grenade for copyright and trademark infringement, and also for breach of contract.
Having none of it, Grenade Beverage countersued, claiming that Grumpy Cat Limited had gone back on the terms of the deal by failing to mention its brand enough on social media and during an appearance on TV. An alleged promise of an appearance by Grumpy Cat in a movie starring Will Ferrell and Jack Black also came to nothing.
Having considered the evidence, a jury in Santa Ana, California, this week came down on the side of Grumpy Cat Limited and awarded the firm the sum of $710,000.
Tardar Sauce’s unusual facial expression (for a cat) is apparently the result of feline dwarfism and an underbite that causes the lower jaw to jut out.
When Grumpy Cat went viral, owner Bundesen saw an opportunity and so set up a company in 2013 to sell related merchandise. Later that year, the famous pet became the “Official Spokescat of Friskies,” and in 2014 starred in her own movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. It has a wretched 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which would probably elicit an even bigger scowl from Grumpy Cat if she were able to comprehend such things.