Katy Perry Claims Left Shark is Her Intellectual Property and Files Suit

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Katy Perry’s halftime performance at last week’s Super Bowl was really great, but it wasn’t without its moments of humor. Unfortunately, one of those moments of humor has now sparked the pop star’s legal team to file a lawsuit.

One of those great moments that came out of the performance was during Perry’s rendition of her hit song “Teenage Dream.” She did it as a beach-themed segment of the show, and no beach-themed dance would be complete without giant humanoid sharks doing complicated choreography. Unfortunately, one of Perry’s two sharks, now dubbed “Left Shark,” didn’t really do so well. Instead of following the sharp choreography, “Left Shark” kind of just flopped around. See for yourself:

Oh Left Shark. We’ve all known the struggle.

Left Shark has sparked a bunch of spin offs though:

Everyone really does love Left Shark. So much so that people have started producing Left Shark items. One company that tried to monetize Left Shark was called Shapeways; it’s a 3D printing company that sells 3D-printed figurines of famous people, such as politicians or celebrities. It started selling a Left Shark figurine; however, it just received a cease and desist letter from Perry’s lawyer.

Fernando Sosa who runs Shapeways, posted a picture of the cease and desist letter on Instragram. It claimed that Left Shark was Perry’s “intellectual property.” Part of the letter read:

As you are undoubtedly aware, our client never consented to your use of its copyrighted work and [intellectual property], nor did our client consent to the sale of the infringed product. Your infringing conduct entitles our client to significant legal relief against you, which may include actual damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages, as well as immediate and permanent injunctive relief.

What exactly does Katy Perry claim is her intellectual property though? The shark costume itself? It looks like a pretty basic shark costume if you ask me, and courts have often ruled that you can’t trademark costumes. Because they’re clothing, and viewed as an “essential article,” they’re often considered beyond what copyright protection can protect.

So, is she trademarking the concept of “Left Shark” then? That also seems like a stretch. The whole Left Shark debacle occurred because the dancer screwed up and/or forgot the choreography. It wasn’t planned, it was a happy, hilarious accident. Can she really claim that something is her intellectual property if it wasn’t something she came up with?

The cease and desist letter seems more like it was an attempt to scare Sosa and Shapeways, rather than a legitimate threat of legal recourse. Sosa has stopped selling the figurines, but it still seems like a petty move on Perry’s part. After all, all the buzz about Left Shark means people are talking about her halftime show. There’s also been plenty of other Left Shark merchandise produced:

Will Katy Perry send letters to everyone who creates something that’s Left Shark-themed? With the proliferation of pictures on the internet, that may be difficult. It will be a shame if Left Shark disappears just because Katy Perry is grumpy.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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