Hello Kitty sues Oklahoma child beauty pageant
The Oklahoman reports,
The Japanese company that owns the Hello Kitty brand has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against an Oklahoma child beauty pageant that reportedly used the cartoon cat’s image on its tiaras and trophies.
Sanrio Co. filed the suit in federal court against Cherilyn Holden and Kristi Musick, who run beauty pageants in Oklahoma under the name Definitely Divas. The suit claims Definitely Divas used the image without permission in the “Tickle Me Pink” beauty pageant last September.
By all appearances Sanrio has a very strong case.
The complaint can be found at this link.
But what really “tickles me pink” about this lawsuit, is that Sanrio takes a stand against child beauty pagaents.
Sanrio explains that it is its “policy to utilize the popularity of its internationally famous HELLO KITTY character to promote girls’ rights and the improvement of girls’ wellbeing worldwide.” And later it notes that it does not “authorize use of its famous HELLO KITTY character name or image in connection with children’s beauty pageants, nor does Sanrio authorize any manufacturers to create Hello Kitty crowns, trophies, t-shirts, or other merchandise to be used in children’s beauty pageants.”
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching Toddlers and Tiaras as much as anyone (or maybe more), but I’m not a fan of child beauty pageants.
As for the lawsuit, the Defendants have a tough road ahead of them.
Defendants, according to the complaint, promised Sanrio that it would stop using the Hello Kitty name and image:
We will definitely remove all Hello Kitty on anything that even sounds like Hello Kitty . . . As of now, we have not purchased crowns nor trophies . . . We are going to give crowns that do not have Hello Kitty on them nor trophies . . . . After getting your email we cancelled our order . . . .
But then, Defendants went ahead with the Hello Kitty pageant anyway:
Defendants distributed counterfeit HELLO KITTY crowns and counterfeit HELLO KITTY trophies to pageant participants. Defendants also gave the participants sashes displaying the “Definitely Divas” name along with the HELLO KITTY name and image and used a HELLO KITTY image as a hand stamp.
Below is a video of a contestant in the pageant at issue. If you watch until the end, you can see all the Hello Kitty loot she wins.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I don’t think you will see Definitely Divas using Hello Kitty’s image anymore. In fact, you may not see much of Definitely Divas after this.