Grumpy Cat back in court

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We previously reported on Grumpy Cat Limited’s big win in a copyright and trademark suit. As a recap, Grumpy Cat—the social-media-famous grimacing feline, or rather the holding company owned by her “parents”—filed a lawsuit after the defendants went beyond the scope of a licensing agreement to market a variety of Grumpy Cat-themed coffee products. According to the suit, the contract was only intended to cover bottled iced-coffee beverages called Grumpuccinos.

Though judgment was entered, the tale is not over yet. Grumpy Cat Limited recently asked the court to award it over $320,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees from the defendants, Nick and Paul Sandford of Grenade Beverages (later renamed Grumpy Beverages LLC).The defendants filed an opposition to the motion for attorneys’ fees. The defendants contended, “Plaintiff’s papers are an absolute mess . . . . Plaintiff has simply slapped a half-hearted nine-page motion up against the wall with the hope that something might stick.” They noted that the judgment did not include a finding of bad faith.

The plaintiffs fired back, calling the defendants’ opposition “absurdly vitriolic,” and stating that “the only ‘absolute mess’ here is [the defendants’] own bad faith and deceptive conduct, along with the nonsensical legal and factual positions that they and their counsel have forced Plaintiff and the Court to address throughout this entire case.” Plaintiffs argued that they won a “complete victory” in the case and should be entitled to fees.

Considering the over-$700,000 award in the case-in-chief, if the judge sides with Grumpy Cat, the famous feline could see a total recovery of over a million dollars. The case is a clear warning that licensees should carefully negotiate and make clear the parameters of their licensing agreements—and be sure to stay within those parameters.

Paul Sandford and Grumpy Beverages filed an appeal of the judgment earlier this month, so we may be seeing more of this case and our favorite crabby kitty.


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