Today’s Top Story: CBS Is Being Sued Over A Farting Hippopotamus Puppet

08.26.14 3 Comments
farting hippo


Today in legal and/or farting hippopotamus news, a toy-making company named Folkmanis, Inc. is suing CBS for copyright infringement over a plush doll called “Bert the Farting Hippo.” Quick backstory via The Wrap.

It all goes back to 2002, when Folkmanis first produced a “20-inch, three-dimensional, soft sculptural puppet emulating a hippopotamus,” which the lawsuit refers to as Hippo 1.

The next year, CBS got its hands on a Hippo 1 puppet and used it in as a prop in its procedural program “NCIS.” According to the lawsuit, “When Hippo 1 appeared on the CBS ‘NCIS’ show, it was often accompanied by a dubbed sound effect of a fart attributable to the Hippo 1 puppet.” The puppet’s propensity to fart earned it the nickname “Bert the Farting Hippo,” and it became such a favorite that it has appeared in over a dozen episodes of “NCIS” since first gracing the screen in 2003.

Because of the farting hippo’s popularity, CBS and Folkmanis entered into an arrangement to sell the doll on the CBS website, as you can see in the above screencap. This is where things started to go sideways. Allegedly, other companies teamed up with a Chinese toy manufacturer named Shanghai Orlind Toy Co. to produce unlicensed farting hippos on the cheap (“Hey, got a proposition for you.” “Shoot.” “So there’s this popular flatulent hippopotamus…”), and CBS proceeded to cut Folkmanis out of the deal to start selling the knock-off Chinese version. Now Folkmanis is suing CBS and the other companies for over $700,000 to make up for lost profits.

“Wait,” you’re probably saying. “$700,000 for a bunch of plush hippos. Isn’t that, like, a lot?” Well, yes, that would be a lot if it were just the doll. But CBS has turned Bert the Farting Hippo in an entire mini-industry, with keychains and t-shirts and a $100 Halloween costume. I am not joking.


Please God let them enter that into evidence with a person inside it. It’s what Franklin and Bash would do.

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