5 Real Lawsuits That Sound Like Hilarious Madness
You know how it goes: you tell your neighbor his lawn gnomes look like Backstreet Boys, he kidnaps your flamingos, and things just escalate from there until you're in court for destroying thousands of dollars worth of Christmas lights. Yes, sometimes, the silliest disputes can become real legal matters. For example ...
The Grumppuccino Lawsuit
Say what you will about the Grumpy Cat craze, but don't act like you wouldn't leap at the opportunity to become a multimillionaire for the service of owning a cat. Grumpy Cat's owners have plastered her surly face on everything from t-shirts to what has to be simply awful-smelling perfume, and in 2013, they partnered with Grenade Beverage to market a bottled iced coffee drink called Grumppuccino. As tends to happen with stupidly named products, people went nuts for it.
But it wasn't all cocaine and catnip. In 2015, Grumpy Cat Limited filed a complaint against Grenade Beverage for breaching their partnership contract, claiming that it only covered the iced coffee drinks and not the other merchandise, like roasted coffee and Grumppuccino t-shirts, that the beverage company had begun selling. Grenade Beverage sued them right back, claiming that Grumpy Cat Limited took the money and skedaddled on their promotion obligations, leaving them holding the bag full of novelty feline coffee. They also alleged that Grumpy Cat Limited falsely told them the cat was already set to star in a Hollywood movie, marking what is almost certainly the first time someone has taken legal action in part because a cat lied to them.
Despite claiming they lost $12 million in revenue after Grumpy Cat Limited dropped their end of the yarn, the California federal jury sided with the cat, ordering Grenade Beverage to pay $710,000 in damages for copyright and trademark infringement plus $1 for breach of contract. That's what you get for making deals with cats, folks. They can't be trusted.
The Founder Of Fuct Spent Decades Trying To Trademark His Brand
Erik Brunetti is the founder of Fuct, a street apparel brand that specializes in dissing people, companies, and probably at least a few adorable dogs in the form of shirts and other wearable items. Much like the Batmanny music video for Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," it was a cool thing in the '90s that's kind of hard to explain now.
Just because his trade was on the outlandish side doesn't mean Brunetti wasn't a prudent businessman, though. Like any wise CEO, he applied to trademark his brand, but the old coots in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (UPTO) denied his application again and again for a one simple reason: The name wasn't very nice. The result was a multi-decade battle between one man and a government office in courtrooms of ever-escalating importance to trademark a misspelled profanity.
Brunetti, for the good of him, does not know when to give up. He pushed to appeal and reappeal until his case finally reached the Supreme Court in 2019, where he and his lawyers successfully argued that prohibiting the trademark just because it was crude was unconstitutional. In doing so, they definitely forced Ruth Bader Ginsberg to say "fucked" over and over in an official legal context, so really, we're all winners.
A Man Sued An Airline For $34,000 Over One Wrong Letter
In 2014, Edward Gamson and his wife took off from London for a long-awaited holiday in the idyllic Spanish town of Granada ... or, at least, that's what they thought for the first 20 minutes of the flight. That's when Gamson noticed that the in-flight monitor showed their plane heading west of England, not south, the direction you usually go when you want to end up in a place south of where you are. He asked an attendant why, exactly, they were going west, who told him they were going to the Caribbean country of Grenada. As Gamson tells it, the airline's helpfulness ended there.
British Airways claims they apologized and offered the couple a flight to another destination plus enough frequent flyer miles for another trip, but Gamson says that didn't happen, and apparently, the couple went through a "three-day" ordeal after landing in the Caribbean and never actually got to, you know, Granada. That all made Gamson pretty unhappy, as he says he provided the exact city, country, and airport code when booking the flight, so he came up with how much he lost in return flights and wages - $34,000 - and sued British Airways for it.
It went well at first: The presiding judge tossed out an attempt to strike out part of the lawsuit and allowed it to head to a full hearing, explaining that "This case proves the truth of Mark Twain's aphorism that 'the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug,' except here, only a single letter's difference is involved." Unluckily for Gamson, the judge's appreciation of Mark Twain seemed to wane, since the lawsuit was later dismissed and British Airways walked away without having to pay a penny. The latest word was that Gamson was deciding whether or not to appeal, but that was in 2014, so he probably just shook his fist at legalized corporate tyranny and moved on. At least there's a kind of happy ending: He and his wife got to Granada later on and said it was so beautiful, it was worth the wait. Maybe not worth $34,000, though.
Louis Vuitton v. The Poo Handbag
Being rich is, like, so hard. You have to deal with your rich people problems like being too bored or having too much food or whatever, and you also have to put up with people making fun of you. Louis Vuitton knows about this hardship all too well, and that's why they lost their shit when toymakers MGA released a colourful poo handbag named Pooey Puitton that was clearly designed to mock LV's ridiculously overpriced luxury goods.
Richman Fancybrand (that's probably the name of the guy who owns Louis Vuitton, right?) allegedly got his very expensive panties in a bunch and started shit-talking MGA to its customers, implying that they would take action against the toy company for copyright infringement. In response, MGA filed a motion to declare their product a work of protected parody and prohibit Louis Vutton from taking action against them. It was eventually dismissed by the judge, as shit-talking is notoriously hard to prove and Louis Vuitton never actually took action against MGA. That apparently settled the matter, and now we're all free to pay $80 for a hollow scrap of plastic shaped like a colorful turd. You know, as a statement against conspicuous consumption.
It Turns Out Emojis Are Legally Binding
Texting has been a boon for fast, easy communication, but introducing pictures into the whole deal added a confusing dimension that our stupid brains aren't quite built to process. Is your partner trying to initiate sex, or are they just sweating over an oven full of eggplant parmesan? Such was the dilemma (sort of) of an Israeli landlord who received a text message from a couple who seemed to want to rent a house from him. "We want the house," they texted, which is a fairly unambiguous statement, and followed up with a series of emojis that included dancing girls, champagne, and ... a squirrel? That's a little less clear, but it proved to be their undoing when they subsequently ghosted the landlord without warning, not even the silly ghost emoji.
We've all dealt with flaky people whose non-commitment translated into a huge pain in the ass on our end (if you haven't, you're the flaky asshole), and in the landlord's case, it meant he took down his ad and delayed his search for a tenant who could perform the bare minimum courtesy of texting back. That meant the flaky couple was legally on the hook for a few thousand bucks, and it was specifically the emojis, which the judge explained "convey great optimism" and "naturally led to the plaintiff's great reliance on the defendants' desire to rent his apartment," that proved it. So make sure, in the future, that your emoji use doesn't get out of hand and you truly did cry with laughter at that gif someone sent you. If they can prove you only forcefully exhaled through your nose, you're boned.