Japan's Hello Kitty resolves bunny battle with Miffy

Cartoon images from Sanrio's rabbit character Cathy (L) and Dutch children book author Dick Bruna's famous rabbit character Miffy (R). Sanrio, known as its character Hello Kitty, has agreed with Mercis, copyright management company of Dick Bruna's creations to drop copyright disputes and instead join hands to help victims of the March quake and tsunami

The Japanese company behind Hello Kitty has agreed with the Dutch creator of bunny character Miffy to end a copyright row and instead donate legal costs to victims of the March quake and tsunami. An Amsterdam court in November 2010 ordered Sanrio to halt production and sales of Cathy -- Kitty's rabbit friend -- merchandise in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg after finding the Japanese bunny closely resembled Miffy, created by a Dutch children's author in the 1950s. Sanrio argued no such infringement had taken place and appealed the injunction which had been sought by Mercis, the Dutch copyright management firm acting for Miffy's creator Dick Bruna. But after a lengthy dispute the two companies issued a joint press release late Tuesday announcing that they had reached "a worldwide settlement ending all legal disputes" and spelling the end for Cathy. "Mercis and Sanrio prefer to donate the money that should be spent on legal proceedings, to the reconstruction and recovery of Japan," they said. "At its own free will, Sanrio will cease and desist from the use of the character Cathy," they said, adding the two companies would "make considerable efforts to keep a respectful distance from each other's characters." They will jointly donate 150,000 euros ($220,000) towards Japanese reconstruction efforts. Miffy was created in 1955, while Cathy has been marketed since 1976 as one of the friends of Hello Kitty, a character that made its debut in in 1974. Hello Kitty has since spawned a massive global industry with sales of some 50,000 Kitty products in nearly 60 countries, including two theme parks in Japan and a third costing $230 million planned for China.

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