cat; breach of contract; sues; coffee; litigation


Grumpy Cat Slightly Less Grumpy After Winning Iced Coffee Suit

If there is one truth in the world, it is that the Internet, for some reason, really loves cats. Out of all the famous cats on the web, one stands out among them as the queen, and that is none other than Grumpy Cat. She’s a fuzzball with a perpetual frown that became more than just an Internet sensation. She became the face of her very own company, Grumpy Cat Limited.

Who Did Grumpy Cat Sue and Why?

Initially, everything started amicably between the parties involved. A father and son duo, Paul and Nick Sandford, wanted to put Grumpy Cat’s face onto the bottles of coffee that they used in their beverage business, Grenade Beverage. They knew that they needed to get the rights to use the image, so they spoke with the owners of those rights. They thought that with this agreement, they would be able to grow their business and get more shelf space in stores that sold other brands of iced coffee.

However, after the deal was struck, there were problems regarding the agreement and what licensing rights the coffeemakers had available to them. The actions of the coffeemakers did not sit well with the owners of Grumpy Cat Limited. They claim that they had agreed to a license for Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino, and not a full line of beverages. The beverage makers had named the line Grumpy Beverage because of this.

Grumpy Cat Limited eventually sued for breach of contract when Grenade Beverage started to market coffee that used the likeness of Grumpy Cat without first trying to obtain permission. There was then a countersuit against Grumpy Cat Limited for $12 million in damages. They also said that after Grumpy Cat Limited received the initial $150,000 payment upfront for royalties, they did not participate or “involve itself in the operation of the business or to offer any meaningful support whatsoever.”

The attorneys for Grumpy Cat Limited said that the beverage company was not given permission to create this type of product, and that the ground coffee was a breach of contract. Grenade Beverage claimed that the Grumpy Cat Limited team was not forthright, and that they lied about the involvement of Will Ferrell and Jack Black in a Grumpy Cat movie, which they had thought would help the brand to sell even better. They also said that Grumpy Cat Limited had not done a proper job of marketing the product.

The jury decided that Grumpy Cat was in the right, and they awarded Grumpy Cat Limited $710,000 for infringement on the copyright and trademark, along with $1 damages on the claim for breach of contract.

It appears that there was a substantial amount of miscommunication in this case, which may have been avoided. It’s a shame that people won’t get to drink a Grumpy Cat beverage, but maybe with this win, Grumpy Cat might just get a bit of a smile.