Quick. Can you tell the difference between the two rabbit characters below?
One is Japanese “Cathy” and the other is “Miffy” of Holland, but which is which?
Miffy yes, Sanrio no
The Japan Times | Nov. 4, 2010—
A court in Amsterdam on Tuesday ordered creator Sanrio Co. to halt production of goods related to its rabbit character Cathy on the ground that it is a close imitation of famous Dutch rabbit character Miffy….The court said Cathy is an imitation of Miffy and called for an immediate halt of production, sales and marketing of Cathy goods in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and told Sanrio to pay 25,000 euro a day in the event of noncompliance. …more…
I have to say that I never saw Miffy before I came to Japan. The first time I saw Miffy in a Japanese bank promotion in the 1980s, I just assumed it was a rip-off of Hello Kitty and that some lawyer slapped a “Dick Bruna” copyright to prevent lawsuits.
It turns out that Hello Kitty actually was a “copycat” of Musti, a cartoon character, created by Flemish graphic artist Ray Goossens in 1945. Sanrio’s “Cathy” was
just created a few 36 years ago as a brand extension of Hello Kitty (and now has totally disappeared from Sanrio website.)