CBS Broadcasting has been hit with a lawsuit over a farting hippo. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that the company was sued for alleged copyright infringement for selling a farting hippo puppet that has been featured on the network’s “NCIS.”
The plaintiff, Folkmanis Inc., says it created a version of the Hippo in 2002, with CBS using it as a prop the following year. The complaint says, “It was often accompanied by a dubbed sound effect of a fart attributable to the Hippo 1 puppet, and the show puppet was referred to and came to be known as ‘Bert the Farting Hippo.'”
Folkmanis said it created a second version of its Hippo in 2009, which it calls Hippo 2, while CBS decided to start selling farting puppets to “NCIS” fans. The network reportedly contracted with Folkmanis to make a new version, which included a mechanism inside that makes a farting sound.
According to a report on TheWrap: “For a few years, everyone was happy. Folkmanis’ business was booming; they produced 30,000 farting hippos to CBS to sell in its online store and at other retailers, which meant a nice profit for the network and delighted, fart-loving fans. In 2011, the network even commissioned a smaller farting hippo keychain, so people could take Bert and his gas wherever they went.
“Then, everything (allegedly) fell apart.”
The lawsuit alleges that CBS then hired two companies to contract a Chinese manufacturer to make the toys, ending its deal with Folkmanis.
“This did not please Folkmanis, which is suing the defendants for copyright infringement,” TheWrap reports. “They are looking for $733,000, the alleged profit made on the faux-Farting Hippos, as well as piece of the profits made as an indirect result of the infringement.”
CBS reportedly responded to the suit with a statement that said, “We believe this to be a flatulent abuse of the legal system, and we intend to clear the air on this matter immediately.”