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Grumpy Cat litigation leads to $710,000 award

When it comes to social media, it may be difficult to predict what exactly will attract attention and become a viral sensation. When such fame comes, however, many people in California must work hard to protect their property. For example, the owner of a cat -- known as Grumpy Cat -- turned to litigation after she claimed a company infringed on her copyright.

The cat, whose name is Tarder Sauce, began showing up in a variety of different places after she became famous on social media. Her pictures could be found on book of cat philosophy as well as calendars. In fact, she was included on the Forbes list of Top Influences.

At one point, her owner created an agreement with the father-son owners of Grenade Beverage. The cat owner received $150,000 upfront to use the cat's likeness in the marketing of iced coffee. However, the lawsuit claims that Grenade Beverage when beyond the original agreement, also using the cat to market coffee grounds and T-shirts. The owners of Grenade then countersued, claiming that Grumpy Cat Ltd. had not fulfilled its agreed-upon duties to market and support the line. In fact, they argue that the plaintiff's brother posted a picture of one of the company's products before they were prepared to launch and that a discussed movie involving well-known comedians never materialized.

A jury recently ruled in favor of the cat and her owner, awarding them $710,000 for trademark and copyright infringement. While litigation may seem like an extreme option to some, often it is the only option to protect a person's livelihood. Seeking relief in court may be the best way for people in California to seek justice should they fall victim to copyright infringement or breach of contract.

Source: NPR, "Grumpy Cat Awarded $710,000 In Copyright Infringement Suit", Scott Neumann, Jan. 25, 2018

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