The creators of two popular cat-related internet memes are suing Warner Bros for using their creations in video games dating backt to 2009.
The plaintiffs in the case, Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres*, are the creators of Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat, respectively. They allege that Warner Bros' use of the characters in various Scribblenauts games amounts to copyright and trademark infringement. The game's developer, 5th Cell, is also named in the suit.
Here's what Schmidt and Torres are accusing Warner Bros of:
Plaintiffs accuse Warner Bros and 5th Cell of including, without any licenses or authorizations, the Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat characters in their original Scribblenauts videogame released in 2009, the 2010 Super Scribblenauts, 2011 Scribblenauts Remix, and the 2012 Scribblenauts Unlimited. Defendants are accused of shamelessly using identifying “Nyan Cat” and “Keyboard Cat” by name to promote and market their games. Plaintiffs claim that Warner Bros and 5th Cell’s trademark infringement was willful and intentional and are requesting an award of treble damages
Maybe the best part of this whole thing is the lawyers' descriptions of the memes. Especially Nyan Cat:
"Nyan Cat is a cartoon. Nyan cat, a character with a cat's face and body resembling a horizontal breakfast bar with pink frosting sprinkled with light red dots, flies across the screen, leaving a stram of exhaust in the form of a bright rainbow in its wake."
The lawsuit explains hows both videos were viral sensations, Keyboard Cat being named to many "greatest viral videos" lists and Nyan Cat winning the 2012 Webby award for "meme of the year."
Both Schmidt and Torres have copyrights for their memes registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Schmidt has two pending trademark applications and Torres has one.
*It's important to note that Torres created the Nyan Cat animation, but is not the one to set it to that famously annoying music and throw it up on YouTube.[Milord & Associates via Ars Technica]