Japanese company Sanrio is suing pageant organizers Cherilyn Holden and Kristi Musick for using HK without permission to promote their “Tickle Me Pink” pageant. The women handed out counterfeit merchandise bearing the icon’s likeness as prizes to contestants. Hello Kitty’s real owners threw a hissy fit, insisting the pageant organizers pay for their im-purr-tinence.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time trademark wars over the kitty have sent fur flying. Several U.S. companies have found themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit over the past several years. In 2005, Sanrio reported no fewer than 38 Chinese enterprises engaged in infringement.
According to Sanrio, it’s not uncommon for die-hard Hello Kitty admirers to tip off the company to illegal use of the image. As swimsuit and short-shorts season continues, the approximately 9 million post-adolescent girls with Hello Kitty tattoos are advised to stay away from these rabid fans, lest they, too, fall prey.