Sanrio Ordered to Stop Making Kathy Items in 3 Nations

posted on by Egan Loo
Amsterdam court: Hello Kitty's rabbit friend copied from Dutch rabbit Miffy (Nijntje)

After ruling that Sanrio's Kathy character infringed on the copyrights of the Dutch character Miffy (Nijntje), a court in Amsterdam has ordered Sanrio to stop making and selling items based on Kathy in three European countries on Tuesday.

The court ruled that the Japanese rabbit character Kathy (pictured at left) was "too similar" an imitation of Dick Bruna's rabbit Miffy (pictured at right). The cease-and-desist order applies to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. If Sanrio does not comply with the order, the court will require Sanrio to pay 25,000 euros (about US$35,000) a day to Mercis, the Dutch company that manages Bruna's copyrights.

83-year-old Bruna began writing a series of picture books featuring Miffy (known as Nijntje in Dutch) in 1955. Translated versions of the books became popular in Japan, and they even inspired several animated television series.

While some of the animated works were produced in the Netherlands, Toshio Nishiuchi directed a 1997 version of Anime Bruna no Ehon (Bruna's Picture Book Anime) at the Japanese studio Product Team Sarah. Keiko Hoshi conceived of this anime, and the Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired it. Pony Canyon released this series on home video in Japan, while Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc. did the same in North America. The Miffy and Friends television series also aired in North America.

Kathy (also written as Cathy) is one of the friends of Sanrio's most prominent character, Hello Kitty. Kathy appeared in the anime series Hello Kitty and Friends, which ADV Films released in North America. When Mercis' lawsuit became public last month, Sanrio's publicity department said that it thought that Kathy did not resemble Miffy.

Sources: 47News (link 2), Yomiuri Shimbun

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