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Grumpy Cat, Internet Sensation and Intellectual Property Visionary, Dead at 7

Josh Conley \ May 17, 2019

With the rain falling outside my office, it seems that the world has recognized the great loss everyone suffered today.  Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has passed away. She passed away peacefully in the arms of her “mommy” as a result of complications resulting from a urinary tract infection.

As many people know, Grumpy Cat is more than just an animal, a cat, or even a pet––she was an Internet phenom.  What some people don’t know, however, is that Grumpy Cat was an intellectual property powerhouse.

Tardar Sauce was the face and entire driving force behind Grumpy Cat Limited, an organization formed to protect all things “Grumpy Cat”.  Her IP portfolio includes numerous trademarks covering a wide assortment of goods and services, including shirts, toys, tea, cell phone covers, and Christmas cards.  Grumpy Cat is also covered by multiple copyrights, including her New York Times-bestselling book Grumpy Guide to Life.

She also had her own social media presence that spanned her YouTube channel, Facebook, and Instagram.  Her image was used in conjunction with ads for McDonald’s and Honey Nut Cheerios. Presumably, these commercials were the result of lucrative licensing arrangements intended to try to satisfy Tardar Sauce, which we all know is not an easy feat.

There were times when people tried to cross Tardar Sauce, which was addressed with a ferocity one would expect from someone with an IP portfolio as strong as Grumpy Cat’s.  A license deal gone bad led to an award in Tardar Sauce’s favor in excess of $700,000 in damages, which came from a combination of damages for copyright infringement and trademark infringement damages.

As we look back on “The world’s grumpiest cat! Grumpy Cat®” it is important that we not take for granted what she gave to us.  She maintained a disdainful demeanor that brought millions joy (though she was actually a very happy feline). On top of that, she and her family were pioneers in protecting, enforcing, and monetizing the power of Internet memes.

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