Nyan Cat Meme Maker Takes On Scribblenauts Developer

The maker of the Nyan Cat meme, otherwise known as Christopher Torres, has launched a lawsuit against 5th Cell and Warner Bros. for implementing Nyan Cat into Scribblenauts. Along with Charles Schmidt, better known for creating the Keyboard Cat video, the two alleged that the publisher Warner Bros. and the game’s developer, 5th Cell did not have their permission to use their creations in the game.

The bulk of the complaint was published on Kotaku:

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 and requesting the case be deemed exception under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), thereby entitling Plaintiffs to an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees.

In other words, the duo claim that their content was used without their permission to promote an entire line of games. It’s stretching the truth, when one takes into consideration that Scribblenauts came out in 2009 and is arguably vastly more popular than either Internet meme.

Due to the fact that the memes are no longer hot, commenters on Kotaku and elsewhere have suggested that the lawsuit is an attempt to keep beating their respectively dead horses. Schmidt in particular has rubbed many people the wrong way by his repeated attempts to recreate the popularity of Keyboard Cat. The original cat, Fatso, died in 2000 long before the video went viral.

According to Torres, the duo reached out to the publisher and the game developer to work out the issue, but he claims that they were “disrespected and snubbed each time as nothing more than nuisances” for requesting compensation.

“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.”

He claims that many other companies have licensed Nyan Cat to use commercially, but neither 5th Cell or Warner Bros. are willing to play ball with either him or Schmidt.

“Just because popularity with millions of fans has caused Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat to become famous by virtue of their viral or meme nature, doesn’t give these companies a right to take our work for free in order to make profits for themselves, especially considering too that they would be the first to file lawsuits against people who misappropriate their copyrights and trademarks. It just isnt fair.”

In related weird news, the lawsuit bears some resemblance to the claim by Games Workshop that it owns the term “Space Marine.” The company had forced Amazon to block the sale of an original fiction novel for children called “Spots the Space Marine.” It beggars belief that such a generic term, much like the memes, could be trademarked.

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1 Comment on Nyan Cat Meme Maker Takes On Scribblenauts Developer


On May 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Warner Brothers is ruthless when it comes to copyright laws [they are an avid supporter of CISPA, SOPA and PIPA] and would go after anyone that used their IP for commercial use in a heartbeat.

It’s only fair that the little guy be defended by the same copyright laws for their independently created IP regardless as to when it reached it’s peak of popularity.

I do however that they might be exaggerating when it comes to how much Nyan and Keyboard cat influenced sale they still deserve some form of monetary compensation for their intellectual property.