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Obesity clinic defeats doll maker in lawsuit over character
  • By Constance Williams
  • Published 2017.06.05 17:23
  • Updated 2017.06.05 17:23
  • comments 0

Liposuction hospital “365 mc” has recently won a legal battle over Dodam Korea, a doll manufacturing company that infringed on the intellectual property right and copyright of the hospital’s popular character named “Jibangi”지방이(Fatty).

Dodam Korea had illegally labeled its fake Jibangi dolls as genuine and sold them online, and also used it as prizes in the popular claw machines installed throughout the country, according to officials at 365mc

This is ‘Jibangi,’ a character doll made by 365mc.

365mc, headquartered in the affluent district of Gangnam, southern Seoul, is Korea’s largest obesity clinic that offers bariatric surgery, liposuction surgery, calf reduction, diet therapy, behavioral modification, medication therapy, injection therapy and mechanical therapy. It is renowned for its well-known marketing method by creating its official mascot Jibangi, a chubby cartoon character nicknamed “Fatty” for its commercials.

Instead of using traditional plastic surgery advertising, represented by before and after photos, the hospital chose to broadcast a light-hearted, adorable representation of the fatty character to get closer to consumers.

In the commercials, Jibangi obsessively clings onto a woman who is trying to lose weight or influences her not to work out and to eat something sweet. In the end, Jibangi is left crying in 365mc with a doctor who grabs the character firmly, representing the hospital’s assurance of running successful operations.

PR industry people evaluate the advertisement, broadcast first in 2012 on subway commercials, as a fresh way to attract public’s attention. It received the first non-TV award for medical ads in the 2012 Korea Advertising Awards, the silver medal for non-TV ads in the Seoul Video Advertising Festival in 2013, and the bronze prize in 2016 Korea Advertising Awards.

“Fat is usually perceived negatively in Korean society, but is now portrayed more cutely because of the Jibangi character,” said Choi Yoo-nah, a Jibangi doll-owner in her mid-20s. “Traditional advertisements are usually depicted so seriously but 365mc’s commercial made it fun to lose weight, and it made me change my perspective.”

The hospital gives its dolls to customers for free instead of selling them so that people can use it as a remedy for obesity behavioral treatment.

In making the ruling, the Seongnam District Court said, “The character has a round face with black round eyes and mouth are shown only in part, with its body and limbs are short and fat to portray a cute image. It has the original characteristics of the artist that are required by copyright law, and so it has the right to be protected.”

"The debtor (Dodam Korea) should not have used the character in the doll, toy and advertising advertisement, packaging, and containers that it had made and sold," the court added.

A 365mc official released the hospital’s positions on the ruling. "We will retrieve and return the entire profits Dodam Korea had made back to society through charities,” the official said. "We sincerely regret that we couldn’t prevent the dolls, which are loved by everyone, from being sold illegally. I hope this ruling will eradicate illegal activities such as unauthorized copying.”


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