|Grumpy Cat takes a break to mull trademark options|
The kitty in question is a Snowshoe Siamese with a permanent frown who goes by Grumpy Cat. The cat has achieved fame through sites like BuzzFeed where she worked for a day (see picture at right) and through a large music and tech festival in Texas where people lined up for hours to see her.
Grumpy Cat now has many trappings of fame -- including an IP lawyer. On behalf of the cat's owners, Tabatha and Bryan Bundesen, enterprising Los Angeles lawyer, Kia Kamran, is asking the USPTO to grant trademark rights to Grumpy Cat Incorporated. The applications cover the phrase "grumpy cat" and two image marks described as follows:
The subject matter for the proposed marks include a broad range of products, from t-shirts to beer steins to video games to mouse pads ("Put me down for one of those!" says the IPKat). Kamran explained to paidContent that he is already "swatting away impostors" and expects he will have to take action against the worst of them. He adds that he has already filed trademark suits on behalf of his other feline internet clients, Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat, (these cats too have become internet memes).
The mark consists of the head and neck of a white feline with brown and black ears. The cat has green eyes with black pupils. Surrounding each eye of the cat is an irregular shaped circle consisting of brown, black and beige fur. The cat has white fur above its nose and surrounding its mouth. Its nose and mouth are outlined in pink and black. The cat's mouth is in a frown. Surrounding the mouth are white whiskers.
Grumpy Cat at work for BuzzFeed
Where to begin with all of this? Regular readers of the IPKat will recall that Grumpy Cat is hardly the only live animal in the IP news: even two years after his demise, adorable polar bear cub Knut is at the center of a trademark saga.
Grumpy Cat has so far stayed out of court but, Merpel wonders, how much IP can a live cat claim? Outside of the anticipated trademarks, Kamran says the owners have copyright in the photo above but, after Grumpy Cat's star-turn in Texas, many others have photos of the feline too. Will the image mark described above (if granted) be sufficient to take action if these other photos make their way onto mugs and mouse pads too? And then there is the question of personality rights which, in America at least, do not apply to animals -- a regrettable (though no doubt necessary) sighs the IPKat.