I was reading up on the different Sanrio characters last night and I read something very interesting about Sanrio's character Cathy, Hello Kitty's bunny friend.
You may have noticed that Cathy isn't really around anymore.
Let me tell you why....
This is Cathy:
Miffy (left) VS Cathy (right)
They kinda look similar, no?
In November 2010, Dick Bruna, the creator of the popular Dutch children's character Miffy (who you may recognize) sued Sanrio for copyright infringement, through the company Mercis. Sanrio appeared in a court of law in Amsterdam where they objected to the court ruling that Cathy too closely resembles Miffy. The court ruling forced Sanrio to immediately cease all production, sale and marketing of Cathy merchandise in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
A legal representative from Sanriostated:
"We object to this ruling and do not believe any copyright infringement took place, a view we intend to express legally. At this point, we believe any impact on company earnings will be limited."
The lawsuit was however dropped after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, as both sides of the lawsuit decided to come together to help the victims of the Tohoku disaster. Sanrio agreed to retire Cathy and the saved legal costs, from both sides of the lawsuit, were donated to the victims.
How Miffy has changed throughout the years....
Miffy, the popular Dutch children's character, was first introduced into the world in 1955 but she didn't really make it big in Japan until around the 1970s. Which was around the same time that Hello Kitty first came out in 1974. Cathy, Hello Kitty's bunny friend, was created 2 years later and there has since been a lot of controversy as to whether Cathy was based on Miffy.
In my opinion, despite agreeing that Cathy looks somewhat similar to Miffy, I wouldn't agree that it was right for the creator of Miffy to sue Sanrio for copyright infringement as I personally don't think that the two characters look similar enough to sue Sanrio for.
The ways in which one could draw a white bunny are very limited. There are only so many ways which anyone can draw a white bunny rabbit character without it looking like a copy of a million other drawings.
Musti (left) VS Miffy (center) VS Hello Kitty (right)
Saying that, there also seems to be a lot of controversy regarding the similarities between Musti AND both Miffy and Hello Kitty. Musti was created in 1945 by Ray Goossens- far earlier than Miffy and Hello Kitty....