News recently hit the wires that Grumpy Cat Ltd., the company behind the Grumpy Cat Internet “person”ality, was awarded over $700,000 in a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit. The defendant was a licensee who was found to have overstepped the terms of a trademark and copyright license agreement relating to iced-coffee, including by selling “Grumppuccinos.”

For those unfamiliar with this character, Grumpy Cat is an Internet sensation, known particularly for YouTube videos featuring her displeased mug. However, what separates Grumpy Cat from other fly-by-night online personalities are the practical steps Grumpy Cat’s owners took to protect and monetize the intellectual property associated with her persona. Since arriving on the scene, the business entity behind the feline has been very savvy in seeking trademark registration for the GRUMPY CAT name and her image for key product categories. The Grumpy Cat website features various merchandise for sale, including co-branded Gund GRUMPY CAT plush toys, books and paper products, and pet toys.

Interested in making your pet into the next YouTube sensation? Here are five steps to consider:

1. Think like a marketer: Come up with a catchy –and protectable — name for your pet’s social media accounts.
2. Promote: Have your pet comment on current events with sharable memes featuring her furry face and brand.
3. Protect: If your pet’s antics have traction, consider filing for trademark protection for the entertainment services and potential licensable merchandise.
4. Monetize: Seek licensing opportunities –for the images and videos, and for co-branded merchandise.
5. Police and enforce: Monitor third-party usage, and move promptly to take down infringing content.

Who knows –done right, your pet may end up making you some serious scratch!

This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of MarkIt to Market. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.