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Sanrio, Mercis Settle Lawsuit, Donate to Quake Efforts

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Both companies to donate US$220,000 & end suit over Kathy/Miffy similarities

Sanrio and the Dutch company Mercis jointly announced on Tuesday that they settled their dispute over the Sanrio character Kathy (pictured at right) and Dick Bruna's character Miffy (pictured far right) out of court. Sanrio had already stopped using the character Kathy in new products (including licensed goods) as of November of 2009.

Last November, a court in Amsterdam ruled that the Japanese rabbit character Kathy was "too similar" an imitation of Dick Bruna's rabbit Miffy (Nijntje), and ordered Sanrio to stop making and selling items based on Kathy in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Sanrio then appealed the ruling, stating that no copyright or trademark infringement was intended and asking for Miffy's trademark to be revoked.

Both companies announced in the press release that they agreed that in the wake of the March 11 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) disaster that money spent on the lawsuit could be better spent to "rehabilitate and reconstruct" Japan. Therefore, the companies decided to withdraw their legal actions and donate 150,000 euros (about 17.5 million yen or US$220,000).

Bruna also drew a picture of Miffy (pictured at left) to express his condolences to Japan regarding the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant accident.

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.

[Via Tadashi Sudo]

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