Warner Bros. and 5th Cell have been hit with a lawsuit for the inclusion of two feline Internet memes in their hit series Scribblenauts. Both Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat have appeared in all of the Scribblenauts games as Easter Eggs, most recently turning up in Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U.
Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres, the respective creators of the memes, have filed for copyright infringement against both Warner Bros. and The 5th Cell.
“For the past three years, WB, along with game developer 5th, have knowingly and intentionally infringed plaintiffs’ copyrights and trademarks by using ‘Nyan Cat’ and Fatso’s image in WB’s top selling ‘Scribblenauts’ games. Including, most recently, ‘Scribblenauts Unlimited’, which WB released in 2011.”
Sounds like they do have a case since they do own the trademarks, however the first Scribblenauts game was released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS. Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat were not trademarked until 2010.
Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of this lawsuit. 5th Cell are simply paying homage to Internet memes we all known and love, and these two are hardly the only ones. Rickrolled and Dramatic Chipmunk are all included in the game, which features over 22,000 nouns.
Sounds a little petty to me. Take it as a badge of honor that these guys are fans of your work and move on. Don’t risk face by using this innocent reference as a cash grab.
One can only imagine if H.P. Lovecraft emerged from the dead and demanded compensation for adding Cthulhu in their game.