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Sanrio
a.k.a.
Hello Kitty
Hall Of Shame Member
Added May 22, 2007

Last Updated November 28, 2009

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Why is the little kitty so happy? It can't be because Sanrio encountered Tabberone. Another faltering step by an ego-centric VeRO member who didn't believe licensed fabric could be made into an item and then sold. It's amazing how many companies actually believe that self-serving lie and continue to terminate perfectly legal eBay auctions only to back off quickly when sued. Sanrio is a really good example of that.

Tabberone had listed an auction of a fleece blanket made from licensed Hello Kitty fabric. This was a licensed fleece panel and the ONLY thing done to it was to serge the edges of the fleece panel. On January 28, 2004, eBay, in it's infinite wisdom and superior knowledge, terminated the auction at the demand of Sanrio who claimed the auction violated Sanrio's copyright, trademark, or other rights.

A flurry of emails followed between Tabberone and Sanrio. Becky Hui, the Sanrio contact person appeared clueless. When asked why was the auction terminated, Becky Hui replied, "Can you send me a photo of the item you had listed so I can see why it was removed?" Huh? Becky, don't you keep track of what you are doing? Don't you keep files? If not, why the hell not? Someone could sue Sanrio for what you did! And someone did! Tabberone!

On February 2, 2004, Randy Patterson (remember this name because it will come up again) bluntly responded that "Auctions are terminated when the products being sold are unauthorized or counterfeit." Randy, were you playing in the kitty litter again? The fabric wasn't counterfeit and Tabberone was not violating the Lanham Act (the "unauthorized" part). Tabberone wasn't doing anything wrong. Randy did a lengthy song-and-dance routine defending their actions while admitting he had no clue as to why the auction was ended because his staff did not maintain records of what they had done. Very professional there, Randy. A lot of loose cannons rolling around on the deck of the USS Sanrio.

So, unable to resolve the issues with the dimwits who were running the Sanbrio offices, Tabberone filed a federal lawsuit against Sanrio on February 12, 2004, a mere fifteen days after the auction was terminated.

Guess what? The first word out of the mouths of Sanrio, and Randy Patterson (we told you to remember his name), was SETTLEMENT, which became effective May 3, 2004. From start to finish, a tad over three months. Now don't you suppose that a large, multi-national company like Sanrio, with really deep pockets, would embrace the chance to litigate the "issues" in federal court and let the sewing world know that licensed fabric could not be used for commercial purposes as stated on the selvage?

"Intended solely for non-commercial use" is written on the selvage of Hello Kitty fabric. Some sewing groups wrongly promote the notion that a fabric manufacturer can set limitations on the use of their fabric. Tabberone, representing herself, has been in federal court with M&M/Mars, Disney Enterprises, Major League baseball, United Media (Peanuts fabric), Sanrio, and others, over the commercial use of their licensed fabrics, and EVERY ONE of them has chosen to settle rather than become the losing side.

These VeRO bullies are brave until confronted with a federal lawsuit.


UPDATE - April 18, 2009 - It appears that Sanrio is still lying about their rights under trademark law and copyright law. The web site Etsy has been under attack by Sanrio because crafters there are (and/or were) selling items made from Sanrio fabrics and Sanrio again perjured itself telling Etsy to stop the sales. There are several blogs on Etsy that talk about this.

Etsy, like eBay, is protecting itself under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA. But, unlike the cowardly eBay, Etsy appears to allow all takedowns to be challenged. However, like the cowardly eBay, Etsy appears to not require a specific statement of infringement that can be verified by their staff lawyer, Susan Feingold. Their is no legal liability to Etsy, or any other provider, if there is no infringement. Sanrio is lying about the infringement if the claim involves the use of licensed fabrics.

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