A court in Amsterdam has ruled that Sanrio’s Cathy, depicted as a friend of the popular cat Hello Kitty, infringes the copyright for Miffy, the well-known Dutch character created by Dick Bruna.
Miffy, otherwise known as Nijntje in Dutch (wonder how that is pronounced), has an “x” for a mouth, and Cathy doesn’t. Otherwise, the two creatures are rather similar. Then again, flat line drawings of rabbits would expect a generic likeness.
The ruling ordered Sanrio to immediately stop making, selling and marketing Cathy goods in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, and ordered the company to pay €25,000 (£21,800) a day in the event of non-compliance, up to €2m.
Bruna created Miffy (Nijntje) in 1955 and translated versions of his books soon became popular in Japan. Cathy has been marketed since 1976 as one of the friends of Hello Kitty, born in 1974. Both rabbits have appeared in an animated series with spin-off clothing and merchandise popular with pre-school children.