CBS sued over 'NCIS' stuffed farting hippo, network hopes to 'clear the air' on issue

By Daniel S Levine,

A soft sculpture company called Folkmanis, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against CBS and the problem at the center of the case isn’t one of the usual issues the networks face in court. No, the company is suing CBS over a farting hippo toy linked to the most-watched network drama, NCIS.

Folkmanis claims that it first produced the Hippo 1 in 2002. A year later, Hippo 1 was featured in an NCIS show, where a fart sound followed it around. The toy became known as “Bert the Farting Hippo” and developed into a fan-favorite gag in the show and among its audience.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Folkmanis created Hippo 2 in 2009 and got a copyright for a “sculpture/ 3-D artwork.” Then, CBS and CBS Store operator Delivery Agent contacted the company about creating an exclusive version of Hippo 2 known as “Bert the Farting Hippo.”

Now, here’s where the problem comes in. Back in 2012, CBS started selling Bert Hippos made in China without Folkmanis’ consent. The Wrap notes that Folkmanis claims Delivery Agent began a partnership with a Chinese manufacturer and then duped CBS into selling unlicensed versions of Bert, a breach of copyrights.

Folkmanis is looking for $733,000 in damages, alleging that this amount is the profit CBS has made off the unlicensed Berts. They also want unlicensed Berts and other items like t-shirts and key chains that feature Bert destroyed.

CBS, which has removed Bert from the CBS online store, came up with the perfectly worded response to this case.

“We believe this to be a flatulent abuse of the legal system, and we intend to clear the air on this matter immediately,” the eye network said.

image of Mark Harmon courtesy of INFphoto.com

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