We have to give credit to iHeartRadio for calling this trademark story “a game of cat and mau5.”
Electronic music producer and DJ deadmau5 (a/k/a Joel Zimmerman) has a cat named Prof. Meowingtons, PhD (“Meowingtons” for short). Prof. Meowingtons is reportedly the only animal with a verified Twitter account and it boasts nearly 31,000 followers. The cat’s name has been used as the name of a deadmau5 tour (the Meowingtons Hax Tour), on deadmau5 merchandise and album covers, and even on a line of headphones for cats (yes, you read that correctly).
Although the Meowingtons name has been in public use since 2010, Zimmerman didn't move to file a trademark for his cat's name until 2015. The USPTO rejected Zimmerman’s application since a Meowingtons trademark is already owned by a woman named Emma Bassiri who runs a website called meowingtons.com that sells cat-themed merchandise.
Zimmerman has petitioned the USPTO to cancel Bassiri’s trademark, claiming that meowingtons.com has caused confusion in the marketplace and prohibits him from effectively managing his intellectual property. The petition goes on to claim that Bassiri “has been a long-time fan of deadmau5 and his music and followed him on social media.” You can read the full petition here.
The Meowingtons name came from the fact that the cat meowed excessively when Zimmerman first adopted it. So where’d the deadmau5 name come from? Its origin is spelled out in the USPTO petition. Turns out that back in 2002, Zimmerman pulled apart his computer to fix it and found a dead mouse inside. Afterward, he posted the story on an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel where he became known as the “dead mouse guy.” He then tried to change his IRC username to “deadmouse” but was held to the IRC 8-character limit on usernames, so he chose “deadmau5.”
BTW, today just happens to be Zimmerman’s birthday — Happy birthday, deadmau5!
Update, March 20, 2017: According to The Hollywood Reporter, last week Bassiri filed a lawsuit against Zimmerman in Florida federal court.
In a statement, Zimmerman wrote: “From the very beginning I was working to find a way to resolve this situation amicably . . . 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.”