Two Meme Creators Are Suing The People Who Made Scribblenauts

Illustration for article titled Two Meme Creators Are Suing The People Who Made Scribblenauts

Oh man. The guy who created Keyboard Cat (Charles Schmidt) and the guy who created Nyan Cat (Christopher Orlando Torres) are suing Warner Bros. and 5th Cell for using the two cat memes in their game Scribblenauts.

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This complaint comes a little bit late: Scribblenauts came out in 2009. But hey, trademark lawyers are gonna do their trademark lawyer thing:

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.

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The lawsuit, which is worth reading in its entirety, has a few great gems, like: "Nyan Cat, a character with a cat's face and a body resembling a horizontal breakfast bar with pink frosting sprinkled with light red dots, flies across the screen, leaving a stream of exhaust in the form of a bright rainbow in its wake."

Amazing. We've reached out to Warner Bros, 5th Cell, and the lawyers involved. We'll update should we hear back from any of them.

To contact the author of this post, write to jason@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

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DISCUSSION

jonathanponikvar
Jonathan Ponikvar

... memes are copyrighted?

Edit: And to clarify, before this comment EXPLODES with responses, I just mean since the structure of the internet and viral nature of memes makes it almost impossible sometimes to trace the origin of certain things after they grow in popularity. It's possible, but tough. Also, the case of the Nyan Cat including an obvious Pop Tart without permission (and if I remember, even included the Pop Tart name in the original description when it first came onto the scene) makes me wonder if it's in a gray area for them to be able to claim copyright of it in a lawsuit.

I'm not claiming that something online can't be copyrighted or any of that jazz. I deal with copyright stuff myself. Just was questioning the logistics of how you copyright an immensely-popular internet meme, which by definition will end up getting shared, rebranded, parodied, and dissected over time.