A cat-themed online retailer is suing electronic music icon Joel Zimmerman in the midst of a trademark fight over "Meowingtons" and "Prof. Meowingtons" -- one a website, the other a famous pet.
Zimmerman, known by his stage name deadmau5, filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December seeking to cancel a Florida woman's "Meowingtons" trademark after his own application was rejected. He wants to protect his cat's brand. Professor Meowingtons, who Zimmerman adopted in 2010, has a verified Instagram account and thousands of social media followers.
Emma Bassiri created meowingtons.com to sell cat-themed apparel and gifts -- and Zimmerman believes she chose the name because she is a longtime deadmau5 fan and was aware of his celebrity cat's moniker.
Bassiri isn't taking Zimmerman's move lightly. On Monday, she filed a lawsuit against him in Florida federal court.
She says she launched her brand in 2014 because she "saw massive opportunities in businesses that target the underserved demographic of cat owners and cat enthusiasts." After searching for trademarks, domain names and corporate names she understood that her first choice -- Meowingtons -- was available.
Bassiri says Zimmerman's claims that she is a longtime fan of his are false and are damaging to her reputation and business. (Read the full complaint here.)
A spokeswoman for Bassiri issued a statement on Monday: "The act of naming your pet animal is not protected by the trademark laws of any country of which I am aware. The mouse (Zimmerman) is clearly the copycat in this case, and our legal team is confident that Ms. Bassiri, a creative and hardworking entrepreneur who has built a successful online retailing business, Meowingtons.com inspired by her love of cats, will prevail as the rightful and sole owner of the mark 'Meowingtons.'"
The website owner is suing for trademark infringement and unfair competition, and is asking the court for a declaration that she has senior use and priority right to the disputed trademark.
Zimmerman's attorney Dina LaPolt sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the complaint. "deadmau5 has been extremely generous and attempted to resolve this matter amicably," she says. "However, as demonstrated by their legal action, they have no intention to address and remedy their intentional infringement and now attempt to extort and deprive our client of his rights and we will take all available measures to protect and enforce his rights."
The artist himself also sent THR a statement on Tuesday, and it foreshadows a contentious battle ahead.
"From the very beginning I was working to find a way to resolve this situation amicably," says Zimmerman. "Now I am forced to litigate this woman out of existence. Bye bye Emma Bassiri. I am going to protect the trademark I have been using since 2011."
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.