Cats, Coffee, & You:
Grumpy Cat’s Big Payday

Cat Gets Fat Stacks From Lawsuit


Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat should be doing anything but frowning after receiving over $700,000 in a lawsuit.

The frowny feline known as Grumpy Cat’s rise to popularity began in 2012 when her down and dismissive attitude won over the hearts of the meme market. Grumpy Cat’s stardom prompted her owner to monetize on that success, so she started Grumpy Cat Limited. The potential for profits from the sourpuss generated licensing deals with numerous companies.  One of those companies was Grenade (a beverage company).

Unfortunately, a licensing deal between the two companies to allow for the creation of iced coffees called “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino” did not end well.  Grenade may have thought they weren’t doing anything wrong when they produced a line of “Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee” products.

And that is where the real grump begins.

Drawn into a dispute, Grumpy Cat (the company, not the cat) brought Grenade to federal court in a copyright lawsuit.  Grumpy Cat Limited claimed the roasted coffee featuring Grumpy Cat and Grumppuccino t-shirts which Grenade was also making and selling was not part of their licensing agreement.  The company claimed in court they had only licensed the use of Grumpy Cat for the ‘Grumpuccino Iced Coffees’.  Grumpy Cat Limited claimed that by using Grumpy cat to sell another coffee line and t-shirts, Grenade was stealing from them.

Grenade then turned around on Grumpy Cat Limited and filed a countersuit. They stated the crabby cat wasn’t promoting the iced coffee the way the licensing agreement had said she would.  Basically, Grenade claimed the grump’s slump of a movie career was a violation by Grumpy Cat Limited of stipulations in the licensing agreement.  To support the claim of contract violation, the company’s attorney pointed out an instance where the owner failed to mention the Grumpuccino Iced Coffee in a live appearance on Fox News (as promised), and the minor amount of social media posts about the chilled beverage from accounts controlled by Grumpy Cat Limited.

These claims though fell on deaf ears as the jury threw out the countersuit and decided in favor of Grumpy Cat Limited, awarding the cat (or at least her company) more than $700,000. Following this decision, the favorable feline can now hold her head high while hanging her frown low.


1) The 7th amendment of the constitution guarantees the right of trial by jury in serious criminal cases and certain civil ones like this.  Both sides, in this case, are entitled to request a jury trial to decide the verdict.  Grumpy Cat is a known icon on the internet and is bound to have some sort of diverse fanbase.  Do you believe a person’s status affect juries in court, and if so, how?

2) Why do you think Grumpy Cat’s status as a famous internet cat was or was not a factor in the outcome of her court case?

3) Explain what you think courts do to to make sure someone doesn’t avoid getting in trouble just because they are rich or famous.  Does that work? Why or why not?

4 ) Grumpy Cat Limited’s initial lawsuit was over Grenade’s infringement of copyright. What are some otherways people can get in trouble for ignoring someone’s copyright rights (for ignoring that they own the rights to a character, image, or idea)?

4) After being sued by Grumpy Cat Limited, Grenade launched a countersuit against the company in an attempt to defend themselves (that means they got the law suit, and before the case went to trial they filed a lawsuit back at the plaintiff calling them to court). They claimed that Grumpy Cat Limited didn’t deliver on the duties they promised to fulfill in the agreement by not making enough social media posts promoting the product, and the Fox News shout-out that didn‘t happen. If Grenade was claiming they used Grumpy Cat on the other coffee and t-shirts to make up for the money they lost when Grumpy’s company didn’t do those things (even though they said they would in the contract), why should they or shouldn’t they have had a chance to win in court as they defended themselves?

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here


-Submitted by J. Floyd

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