CBS Sued Over Farting Hippopotamus

A recurring stuffed animal on the hit CBS show, NCIS, is causing the broadcasting corporation legal woes this week.  On August 25, CBS Broadcasting was sued by world renowned puppet maker, Folkmanis Inc.,  for infringing its copyrights by producing and selling “Bert the Farting Hippo” products.

Abby Sciuto, the goth forensic scientist on NCIS, introduced her furry, farting stuffed animal, Bert back in 2003.  Since his first appearance, Bert the Farting Hippo has made over a dozen appearances on the television show, garnering a significant fan base.  Fans have shown such an affinity for Bert that CBS determined it would be lucrative to produce and sell Bert.

CBS contacted Folkmanis, the original creator of the stuffed hippo used on the show, to create a line of “Bert the Farting Hippo” products in 2010.  Folkmanis agreed and produced the stuffed hippo and similar key-chains using its copyrighted stuffed hippo puppet design.  In 2012, CBS stopped production and employed Shanghai Oriland Toys, based in China, to produce the “Bert the Farting Hippo” products.

Folkmanis brought this lawsuit claiming the new Bert hippos are identical and infringe on their copyright in violation of the Copyright Act, Title 17.  Folkmanis is seeks to recover profits resulting from the infringement which are estimated at $733,000.

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