Beverage Company Swipes Back at Grumpy Cat in Intellectual Property Lawsuit

Grumpy Cat during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film and  Interactive Festival -Getty-H 2016
Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW

Grumpy Cat's famous sourpuss took the internet by storm in 2012,  but the feline's fame is now at the center of an intellectual property lawsuit. 

The owners of the eternally dissatisfied cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, sued on her behalf in December. Grumpy Cat Limited claims a beverage company overstepped its bounds in a licensing deal by putting the cat's mug on a line of ground coffee and registering the domain

Grumpy Cat argues it granted Grenade Beverage limited rights to exploit its copyrights and trademarks to sell “a line of Grumpy Cat-branded coffee products.”

"The mutually understood intent of the License Agreement was to allow Grenade to produce and distribute a line of 'Grumpy Cat' branded iced-coffee beverages called 'Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino,'" states the original complaint. "The parties further understood and agreed, as clearly memorialized in the language of the License Agreement, that any additional product offerings would require further negotiations and approval from Plaintiff."

The company then launched a line of Grumpy Cat roasted coffee, which Team Tardar Sauce says is unauthorized.

Grenade is planning its own strike in the legal catfight, according to a joint report filed with the court this month. 

The company claims Grumpy Cat Ltd. is liable for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional misrepresentation and/or concealment and reverse domain hijacking. 

Grenade says this agreement was not a straightforward licensing deal and required the formation of a separate business, Grumpy Beverage, of which plaintiff would be a partial owner. 

"When the newly-formed company was established, Grumpy Beverage, LLC held up its end of the bargain by creating distinctive product names such as “GRUMPPUCCINO,” distinctive artwork such as the cartoon image of a cat (referred to as the “Grumpy Cat Cartoon Image”), and distinctive packaging with highly identifiable trade dress," states the report. "After Plaintiff received a $150,000 advance payment, Plaintiff refused to provide any continuing support whatsoever, failed to cooperate with Grumpy Beverage, LLC, and was completely obstructive in all respects of the operation of the business and marketing efforts." 

Grumpy Beverage will be filing a motion to intervene as a defendant, according to the report, and asking the court for leave to file counterclaims against Grumpy Cat.