If you think that you cannot make money off of a photograph, a meme of a cat, you are seriously mistaken.
We are referring to the Grumpy Cat Internet meme. To begin with, the Cat became popular after its photo was posted on the Internet website Reddit. The cat’s owner Tabatha Bundesen went further from here, and in 2012 it became a star of a cat food advertisement. Two whole books were written about that cat.
Tabatha even found a company under the name “Grumpy Cat Limited”, which owns the rights to the image of the cat, and in 2013 the company entered into an agreement with a beverage manufacturer company Grenade. Under the contract, the company could produce and sell a coffee drink called “Grumpuchino”. However, Grenade decided to expand the range of its products housing the image of the cat and began to produce “Grumpy Cat” grilled coffee and “Grampuchino” T-shirts.
The agreement did not provide for such use of the cat’s image, and the cat’s owner filed a lawsuit for copyright and trademark right infringement. Grenade argued that Grumpy Cat Limited provided improper assistance in promoting the brand in social networks and on television, that the “Grumpuchino” brand itself was not mentioned enough, and that the cat’s owner announced the drink on social networks even before it entered the market. Also, Grenade reported that under the terms of the agreement, 150,000$ in royalties were paid (to Grumpy Cat Limited) in 2013.
However, the jury took the side of Grumpy Cat Limited and upheld the exclusive copyrights and trademark right infringement claims in the amount of 710,000$.
This piece, although comic in form, shows a vivid example of how you can make money on intellectual property. The pet’s owners realized the commercial attractiveness of the cat’s image in time, registered a company, got rights to a trademark, scrupulously spelled out a agreement regarding use of the cat’s image, and upon discovering a violation they appealed to court and received a decent compensation.
This article was partly drawn from materials gathered from the following websites: pravo.ru, courthousenews.com
Image taken from: yandex.ru.