Everyone’s favorite ill-tempered cat, Grumpy Cat — or rather the company that represents her, Grumpy Cat Limited — sued Grenade, a beverage company, over an intellectual property violation.
BBC News reports that in 2013, Nick and Paul Sandford, the owners of Grenade, struck a licensing deal with Grumpy Cat Limited to sell a line of iced coffees called “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino.” However, in 2015, Grenade decided to add a line of roasted coffee using Grumpy Cat’s image. The coffee, “Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee,” was never part of the original deal, which caused Grumpy Cat Limited to file a lawsuit in federal court.
According to court documents published by the Washington Post, “In particular, this case arises out of the unlawful and inexplicable conduct of Defendants, who included Plaintiff (the lawful and exclusive owner of the copyrights and trademarks in and to the valuable ‘Grumpy Cat’ brand) to grant them limited rights of the ‘Grumpy Cat’ brand, only to repeatedly abuse and infringe those rights by creating and exploiting unauthorized ‘Grumpy Cat’ branded products and further failing to account to Plaintiff for the sale of the only product that was actually authorized to be sold by Defendants.”
The trial lasted a week, and on Monday the jury awarded a payment of $710,000 in damages for copyright and trademark infringement, as well as a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract.
The cash cow — or rather cash cat — has turned out to be a little feline gold mine for her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, as well as her brother Bryan and daughter Crystal. Business Insider reports that Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce or “Tar,” was born April 4, 2001, alongside her brother Pokey in Bundesen’s home in Arizona. Tardar Sauce was born with a form of dwarfism and an underbite that causes her to look upset all the time. Her brother Pokey does not suffer from the condition.
One lucky day — on Sept. 22, 2012, to be precise — Bryan took a photograph that would change their lives. He took a picture of the sour-faced kitty and posted it on Reddit. The picture went viral, reaching 1 million views on Imgur within 48 hours. Tardar Sauce, now Grumpy Cat, became an internet sensation.
At the time, Bundesen was working as a waitress, but thanks to Grumpy Cat’s meteoric rise to stardom, she was able to quit her job just days after Grumpy Cat made her online debut.
Grumpy Cat has been featured on countless memes, has her own YouTube channel, and is the “author” of two books. She also has an endorsement deal with Friskies cat food and starred in her own Lifetime Christmas movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.
Grumpy’s success has led to the speculation that she’s earned $100 million for her owner, which Bundesen claims to be “completely inaccurate.”
Regardless of how much money Grumpy Cat is generating for her owner, Bundesen now lives the life many dream of living. “I’ve been waitressing for 10 years, barely making ends meet,” Tabatha told Mental Floss. “Now I get to travel with the cat, and I’m homeschooling Crystal, so we get to spend more time together. I hardly ever saw my brother before all this happened, maybe once or twice in 10 years, and now I get to see him every couple months at least. It’s a huge positive change. Plus, there’s the joy that Grumpy Cat is spreading—or grumpiness. But really, everybody’s smiling.”