What the Keyboard Cat Has to Teach About Lawsuits

Even established businesses like Threadless get caught in the lawsuit web. The Chicago design company is in the process of a lawsuit for allegedly infringing a copyright via a T-shirt that pays tribute to Charles Schmidt's keyboard cat. 

In a lawsuit filed June 21 in Seattle federal court, Schmidt contends that Threadless' 2009 Three Keyboard Cat Moon T-shirt violated the copyright he has established for images of his late kitty, Fatso, and the phrase "Keyboard Cat."  

Unless a small business is careful most attorneys say it can expect to face a major lawsuit some time during its first five years of business. And the more successful the business, the greater the likelihood of being sued. That’s rough. So small business lawyers say you should pay particular attention to "litigation sensitive" areas like these: 

  • relationships with investors 
  • how you go about raising money
  • consult your business advisor
  • product names - be careful, you might not be the only one out there.
  • and employee relationships - always have an employee handbook at the ready.
 Poor Fatso aside (he died in the late ‘90s, according to Wikipedia), be sure to protect your products with trademarks and copyrights. And if you don’t have a lawyer or a consultant, get one.
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