Fur flies over ruling on Hello Kitty rabbit

Thu Nov 4, 2010 12:41pm EDT
 
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Sanrio, the maker of Hello Kitty character goods, said on Thursday it planned to object to a Dutch court ruling that its rabbit character Cathy too closely resembled Miffy, a popular Dutch rabbit character.

A court in Amsterdam ruled on Tuesday that Sanrio's Cathy, depicted as a friend of the popular feline Hello Kitty, infringed on the copyright for Miffy, a well-known and beloved Dutch character created by Dick Bruna.

The ruling called for an immediate halt to the production, sale and marketing of Cathy goods in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, and ordered Sanrio to pay 25,000 euros ($35,360) a day in the event of non-compliance, up to a total of 2 million euros.

"We object to this ruling and do not believe any copyright infringement took place, a view we intend to express legally," Sanrio said in a statement. "At this point, we believe any impact on company earnings will be limited."

A Sanrio spokesman said the company believed the ruling equaled a temporary injunction under the Japanese legal system but declined to give further details, citing the possibility of future legal action.

Miffy, a small female rabbit, was created in 1955 by Bruna and has since appeared in scores of books and inspired a television series, as well as clothes and other character goods.

Cathy, also spelled Kathy, is a friend of Hello Kitty and has appeared in an animated series about the enigmatic feline and the characters that populate her world.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato)

 
<p>A performer dressed as a Hello Kitty masot wearing a kimono performs a classical Japanese dance at a event named "Let's learn Japanese culture with Hello Kitty" at Tamagawa Takashimaya shopping center in Tokyo September 2, 2007. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>