Felix the Cat and Kit-Kat Clock Felix the Cat and Kit-Kat Clock
Cartoon Culture

Felix the Cat vs. Kit-Cat Klock

Felix vs. Kit-Cat Klock

An article in today’s NY Daily News talks about how the owners of Felix the Cat, Felix the Cat Productions, are suing the California Clock Co., the company that manufactures the Kit-Cat Klock. The article doesn’t explain why the owners of Felix have suddenly decided to sue now when the clock has been continuously manufactured for the past seventy years. I’m no lawyer, but perhaps it would help the California Clock Co.’s case if their HTML code didn’t proclaim them as the home of the “The Authentic Original Felix Clock!”

(Thanks, Mark Gittman)

  • Brian O.

    “why the owners of Felix have suddenly decided to sue now”

    Publicity and money.

    Union Pacific railroad tried to do the same thing to the model railroad manufacturers. Model makers have been using UP graphics for decades without incident then all of a sudden UP wants licensing agreements and royalties. Too little, too late. UP settled with the model community.

  • Bill Field

    Hearst owns Felix, but except for a brief comicstrip with Betty Boop, most of Felix’ appearances since the 1958 Trans Lux series, Felix has evolved past whiskers, or started shaving, take your pick. The fact is, he doesn’t look anything like the clock now, no bowtie, no claws, he has 3 fingers, the clock has 4, and no whiskers to boot! If they ditch the name Felix, in the url, the only similarities left will be- it’s a cat, and it’s black and white.

  • tom

    I dunno. I think that while the Kit Kat clock has been around forever, they only recently seem to have started to call it a Felix clock, and I don’t blame Felix’s owners for trying to stop that. Felix has proven to be a fairly strong brand in the last few years, and they can’t allow the precedent to be set that unlicensed use will be tolerated. That’s just how copyright and trademark law works.

  • John A

    The Kit Cat Klock is such an icon on its own, why it feels it needs the extra “Felix” association to generate public intrest is beyond me. However, if they want to pony up the dough to licence a genuine Felix Clock with an original Felix design, that’s something I’d be willing to buy.

  • Chris

    tom, copyright law doesn’t work that way. Trademark law does work that way.

  • Right or wrong, I’d wager this will be thrown out. Too much time has lapsed and the clock has developed it’s own identity.

  • I did a TESS search and a TARR status search on the US Patent & Trademark Office website, because I too am stricken with disbelief that Felix attorneys would have waited seven decades before prosecuting the makers of the Kit-Cat Clock.

    According to the Federable Gummint, Felix is protected by a live trademark with Serial number 76674332 – No Registration Number is available. This trademark application was filed March 20, 2007, little more than a fortnight before this news article appeared. The TARR report notes “Current Status: A non-final action has been mailed. This is a letter from the examining attorney requesting additional information and/or making an initial refusal. However, no final determination as to the registrability of the mark has been made.”

    What’s more interesting, Felix The Cat Productions claims November 1991 as date of initial use (!!) for the following: “Electric, photographic, cinematographic, optical, apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images, magnetic data carriers, recording discs, data processing equipment and computers used for theatrical exhibition, TV programs featuring animated cartoons, video and DVDs of animated cartoons and pre-recorded goods, namely audio tapes, video cassettes and apparatus.” An initial use date of July 2003 is claimed for another registration covering “Musical instruments, namely guitars”.

    Note that neither trademark registration covers clocks, watches, or other forms of chronometric (I just made that word up) devices.

    My “OH NO, HORRORS!” question is whether the current trademark registrants (note, the registration is NOT FINALIZED – last activity is August 3, no registration and no national coverage) could stymie any releases of earlier Felix cartoons, from Messmer, Van Bueren, or even Joe Oriolo, because of trademark registration issues. This is where someone needs to file the equivalent of an Amicus Curae with the Trademark Examiners….anyone know the procedure for that?

  • The answer to this question is “Duh!” The owners of the Felix the Cat trademark now have their own Felix the Cat clock. Therefore, the unauthorized version has to go.