The golden age of television
Folkmanis Inc., a stuffed animal purveyor, is suing CBS Broadcasting for selling a puppet of a farting hippo featured on NCIS.
Folkmanis says it created the first version of its stuffed hippo in 2002, and the hippo appeared on NCIS in 2003. "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,'" the complaint states. Folkmanis then created a new version of the hippo, Hippo 2, in 2009, with a copyright for a "sculpture/3D artwork."
The lawsuit alleges that CBS then contacted Folkmanis, saying that "a hippo puppet would be a profitable product to offer for sale on the CBS Store." CBS then "contracted to have a special edition of the Hippo 2 puppet made exclusively for DA and CBS" to sell in its store. The CBS version adds a collar and a fart sound box to the Hippo 2 prototype. Things took a turn for the worse, though, when in 2012, CBS allegedly shipped the Bert items out of China, which the lawsuit claims is "unauthorized" distribution.