Published May 12, 2017Back in March, Canadian electronic music icon deadmau5 (a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman) found himself locked in a trademark battle over the name of his pet cat, Prof. Meowingtons. The latest move in the legal battle finds the producer filing a countersuit against the owner of a cat-themed online retailer that used the name for her business.
Zimmerman is suing Emma Bassiri for trademark infringement, cybersquatting and unfair competition over the name of her business, Meowingtons. Bassiri's suit in March alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition on Zimmerman's part.
"Two months ago, a company that hijacked our clients' trademark MEOWINGTONS filed a lawsuit against our clients, deadmau5 and his companies, including Prof. Meowingtons Ltd," Zimmerman's lawyer Irene Lee told The Hollywood Reporter. "Despite our clients' efforts to resolve the matter amicably, the company — which took the very mark as its name: Meowingtons, LLC — has been relentless, now forcing our clients to protect their trademark rights and intellectual property by filing a counterclaim."
Within the claim, Zimmerman notes that he first used the Meowingtons mark in 2011, while Bassiri first used it in 2014. He argues that in between those years, he sold "tens of thousands of units" of merchandise that featured the cat's likeness. He also points to use of the name in the title of his "Meowington Hax Tour," which also spawned the Meowington Hax Tour Trax tour CD and an accompanying video.
In a more local tie to the legal case, Zimmerman is also suing former Toronto DJ Scott Hutchison, who manages Bassiri's website. The complaint shows a photo of Hutchison spinning deadmau5 tracks from his computer in 2010, with Zimmerman adding that it's "simply inconceivable" that the former DJ was unaware of his pet's name.
What's more, Zimmerman claims a time-limited Google search of "Meowingtons" in 2013-2014 produces multiple references to the Canadian producer on the first page or search results.
"Thus, a simple Google search of 'Meowingtons' at the time would have shown both a link to deadmau5 and his use of MEOWINGTONS in commerce in connection with, at the very least, deadmau5's music," Zimmerman's countersuit states. "If Counter-Defendants indeed engaged in diligence prior to adopting the MEOWINGTONS mark, they would have promptly uncovered deadmau5's use of the mark."
In addition to having Bassiri's trademark claim cancelled, Zimmerman also aims for the suit to take her website's current URL of www.meowingtons.com offline. The Hollywood Reporter notes he's seeking forfeiture of the domain, plus disgorgement of profits or statutory damages.
Bassiri has yet to comment on Zimmerman's countersuit. Find the complaint below.