Internet Meme Creators Sue Warner Bros.

May 2, 2013 -

Warner Bros. Interactive is no stranger to the fighting battles about trademarks and copyrights in courts, but a case filed by two Internet meme creators has the industry giant in a role reversal. According to this NeoGAF thread Charles "Keyboard" Schmidt (Keyboard Cat meme) and Christopher "Nyan" Orlando Torres (Nyan Cat meme) filed a lawsuit against publisher Warner Bros. and developer 5th Cell for "shamelessly" using their copyrighted Internet memes in the game Scribblenauts Unlimited without their consent, permission and without proper compensation. The plaintiffs claim willful and intentional copyright infringement, and seeks treble damages.

One of the challenges for the plaintiffs in the case is that the alleged infringements occurred in 2009, but trademarks were filed in 2010.

You can read the court documents related to the case here.

Editor's Note: Orlando Torres says via his Tumblr page that the dates are wrong on a couple of  reports (which includes ours): "'Nyan Cat' was a valid copyright as of April 2011, and Scribblenauts unlimited wasn’t released until late last year (2012)," he writes.

Source: Destructoid


Comments

Re: Internet Meme Creators Sue Warner Bros.

If they are suing for copyright violation what does the trademark have to do with it. They are separate objects. Also you dont have to file anything to have a legit copyright claim.

Re: Internet Meme Creators Sue Warner Bros.

While it does not directly impact the case, having a trademark already assigned would have strengthened their claim of copyright.

So they are not hurt by filing after the infringement, but it would have helped if the reverse had been true.

Re: Internet Meme Creators Sue Warner Bros.

While you don't have to register your copyright to receive many of the benefits of it, you do lose out on some legal ones. For example, if you don't register your copyright, you are not able to receive statutory damages. You can only sue for real damages.

For instance, if you make a game but don't register the copyright and I make and distribute illegal copies of that game. You are limited to only suing me for the retail price of the copies I made. So if you sell your game for $5 and I made 100 illegal copies, you could only get $500 from me.

However, if you registered your copyright, you would be entitled to sue for statutory damages which could equal up to $150,000 per infringement.

I hope that helps explain the importance of registering a copyright. There are more reasons, but that is just one.

As for trademark, they are suing over that because players have to write "Keyboard Cat" or "Nyan Cat" in order for the in-game representations to appear. They hold the trademarks on those phrases. So it is a combo trademark/copyright lawsuit.

 
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