8 February 2019Copyright

Hello Kitty owner targets counterfeiters in TM infringement suit

The owner of popular children’s character Hello Kitty, Sanrio, has taken legal action against a California-based company which it alleges is producing counterfeit products that infringe its trademarks and copyright.

The complaint, filed on February 2 at the US District Court for the Central District of California, said online marketplace GearLaunch owns and operates numerous websites which manufacture and distribute Hello Kitty apparel, mugs and other items without a license.

Japan-headquartered Sanrio is the exclusive owner of all Hello Kitty trademarks.

The websites named in the complaint include, and among others.

Sanrio said the websites also sold apparel which infringed trademarks for some of its other characters, including Dear Daniel, Keroppi and My Melody.

The complaint also named an individual, Thatcher Claflin Spring, as a supervisory employee of GearLaunch.

Sanrio said GearLaunch had “used substantially identical likenesses” of 11 of its trademarks without its consent by manufacturing, advertising, selling and distributing counterfeit products.

The complaint said that since March 2018, Sanrio has sent GearLaunch at least five written notices of its alleged unauthorised activities, but those notices were ignored and GearLaunch’s “infringing activities did not relent”.

Sanrio said that it has sustained substantial damages as a result of GearLaunch and sought $2 million per trademark infringement.

Sanrio also asked the court to order GearLaunch to cease all production and distribution of the allegedly infringing goods.

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10 July 2019   Europe’s antitrust authority has hit Sanrio, the licensor of the Hello Kitty brand, with a €6.2 million fine for restricting cross-border sales of merchandise.