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The cat memes in Scribblenauts are illegal, claims cat meme duo

May 2, 2013 | By Kris Graft




The owners of a couple of the most famous cat memes in internet history are suing Warner Bros. and independent game studio 5th Cell for allegedly using those cats without permission.

Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres hold the copyrights and trademarks to "Keyboard Cat" and "Nyan Cat," respectively.

In a complaint filed on April 22, they claim that 5th Cell's Warner-published game series Scribblenauts infringes on their cat-centric copyrights and trademarks by using the cat memes without permission in the games, and to promote the series.

The memes have been viewed tens of millions of times. "That popularity makes them extremely valuable for commercial uses. Unlike WB and 5th, many other companies, respecting plaintiffs' intellectual property rights, regularly pay substantial license fees to use plaintiffs' memes," the complaint reads. The filing also claims that "Keyboard Cat" and "Nyan Cat" are used in Scribblenauts by name.

"Keyboard Cat" is a video of Schmidt's cat "Fatso" (pictured), who's wearing a shirt and sitting upright while playing a keyboard. Torres' "Nyan Cat," is a video of a cartoon cat that has a pink-frosted Pop Tart for a body, with a rainbow trailing behind.

Schmidt and Torres add in the filing, "The 'WB' logo also is a meme, even though it is only two letters inside the outline of a shield. Of course, WE employs an army of lawyers who use trademark and copyright law to zealously protect its intellectual property, including its logo."

The plaintiffs are seeking judgment for damages (plus interest), legal fees and an injunction against the sale and marketing of allegedly-infringing Scribblenauts products.

Complaint [PDF] and image via IP Trademark Attorney.



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