The owners of Tardar Sauce, popularly known through internet celebrity as the curmudgeonly faced Grumpy Cat, are suing the California-based company that recently began selling roasted whole-bean coffee with the Grumpy name and an illustrated image of the cat.
Grumpy Cat Limited filed suit in a California federal court late last week, suggesting the coffee company has ignored previous licensing agreements and exploited the cat’s name and image for financial gain. The owners are seeking financial compensation as well as permanent injunctions against defendants Nick and Paul Sanford, who are doing business as Grenade Beverage LLC.
The lawsuit actually begins somewhat friskily:
Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about.
The plaintiff acknowledges that Grenade was granted license to use the cat’s name and image for its RTD bottled cold brew coffee line Grumpuccino, which launched in 2013, but claims that the defendants’ newest coffee line and uses involving the grumpycat.com domain name exceed the scope of the licensing agreement and trademark laws.
“Although, as required by the License Agreement, Defendants sought Plaintiff’s approval of use of the Licensed Properties in connection with the proposed roasted coffee ground product, Plaintiff never approved such use,” the complaint states. “Defendants were repeatedly told by Plaintiff (both in writing and verbally) that the Licensed Properties could not be used in connection with a roasted coffee ground product.”
Grenade launched a packaged, roasted coffee line earlier this month, including three different coffee offerings and purporting direct-trade sourcing relationships.