Grumpy Cat Protects Trademark

Grumpy Cat, the feline Internet sensation, had people lining up for hours to see her at the recent South by Southwest Conference.  And her owners aren’t taking any chances over Grumpy Cat’s intellectual property rights.  They have filed for U.S. trademark protection for Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy cat trademark

Grumpy Cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce.  By all accounts she is a sweet-tempered cat but has a naturally sourpuss expression on her face.  She is owned by Tabatha and Bryan Bundesen, sister and brother, of Arizona and Ohio.

She became an overnight sensation after one of the owners posted her picture on under the title “Meet grumpy cat.”  Fans took to her grumpy expression — and ran with it,  sharing pictures of her all over the Web often with funny captions.

Pretty soon Grumpy Cat had a website, a Facebook Fan page, and a store selling merchandise.  She’s appeared on the Today Show. Just recently she landed a Friskies cat food commercial.

The trademark application is on public file at the website.  Grumpy Cat’s trademark application covers such things as mobile phone cases, videos, greeting cards, coffee mugs and T-shirts.  Under the trademark application, the owners seek protection for the name “Grumpy Cat” and her image.  One trademark document features a picture of her and refers to the distinctive feature of her mouth being “in a frown.”

The trademark application was filed in January 2013 by trademark attorney Kia Kamran on behalf of Grumpy Cat Incorporated of Ohio, a company set up by the owners.  According to Paid Content,  “Kamran, who also represents Mike Tyson, says he hasn’t filed any Grumpy Cat lawsuits yet, but probably will soon in response to the ‘current wave of infringers that are popping up.’  He adds that, while he’s sensitive to the cultural dimensions of internet memes, he’s had to take action on behalf of other clients, Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat.”

Hmm, maybe we should apply for a trademark on Small Biz Cat (@SmallBizCat on Twitter), our unofficial mascot here at Small Business Trends.

Image credit: Reddit


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

11 Reactions
  1. Oh boy, that is some grumpy cat! This just shows you the power of social media even with sites like Reddit that are on the fringe of mainstream social media. Very well done to the Bundesen family for spotting a unique opportunity. This follows along the same lines as the you tube video “Charlie bit my finger” which is reported to have made the family over $1.2 million – viral marketing at its best!

    [Edited by Editor]

  2. I’ve never comprehended the name Tardar Sauce for this cat. First of all it’s TarTar Sauce. And since she’s a grumpling wouldn’t it make more sense if her nickname was Tart?

    • Kerry, that’s funny. Yes, “Tart” would make more sense. Personally though, I like “Grumpy.” The word makes me smile every time I say it.

      – Anita

  3. Martin Lindeskog

    I hope that the “grumpy” cat will become happy after the owners have secured the trademark. Maybe I should start taking more photos and videos of our family’s cats, Robin & Rufus. Nowadays they are all into chasing the red dot of a laserpointer… 😉

  4. Well, they should check out if they want to bust trademark infringers. That site is filled with grumpy cat items for sale.

  5. Good for her, and I guess, good for her cat. I see a lot of grumpy cat look alike stuff all around. It says sad cat, grumpy cat, mean cat, etc. I wonder is it just the words or the face too? I guess it’s time for her to start shutting everyone down. I know the trademark owner of got beef? and heard he’s been going through hell trying to get everything shut down off the internet. It seems some marketplaces like to play hardball (wont say the names he gave me) are taking thousands of dollars PER case in legal fees, cease and desist and more just to get the knockoffs off the market. All the while they are placing high in google shopping results and killing his brand while the larger marketplaces stall. I think it’s easy for him to track use since it’s words got beef? but for a cat’s pouty face? I don’t know. Lucky for grumpy cat, everyone knows and loves him, so maybe they will report others for using it. I wonder how many grumpy cat copycats are out there?

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