Internet memes take many forms, but whether they are images, videos or phrases, it is important to understand that memes are also subject to copyright protection. “Keyboard Cat” is a 1984 video of a cat named “Fatso” in a blue shirt that appears to be playing an electronic keyboard that was uploaded to YouTube in 2007. “Nyan Cat” began as a hybrid GIF animation image of a cartoon cat with the body of a Pop-Tart flying through space and leaving a rainbow trail behind it that was later turned into a YouTube video in 2011. The video game news website Gamasutra noted that the memes “have been viewed tens of millions of times.”
However, Gamasutra reported on May 2 that Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres, who respectively hold the copyrights and trademarks to “Keyboard Cat” and “Nyan Cat,” filed a lawsuit against the developer and publisher of the Nintendo DS puzzle action game Scribblenauts. The lawsuit accuses the game’s developer, 5th Cell, and its publisher, Warner Bros. Games, of trademark and copyright infringement for using the infamous cats in the game without permission.
“We reached out to the companies in hopes of working out an amicable resolution of the issue, yet were disrespected and snubbed each time as nothing more than nuisances for asking for fair compensation for our intellectual property,” Torres wrote in a May 2 post to his personal Tumblr. “That’s not right. I have no issues with Nyan Cat being enjoyed by millions of fans as a meme, and I have never tried to prevent people from making creative uses of it that contribute artistically and are not for profit. But this is a commercial use, and these companies themselves are protectors of their own intellectual property.”
You can learn more about trademark infringement by visiting our website. If another party is using your original material without your permission, fill out the form on this page or contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 to have our Los Angeles copyright infringement lawyer review your case.
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