CBS Is Being Sued Over NCIS's Bert the Farting Hippo

By LizRaftery

Aug 26, 2014

CBS has found itself at the center of a lawsuit regarding "Bert the Farting Hippo," a recurring prop on NCIS, The Wrap reports.

The company Folkmanis, Inc., which manufactured the original stuffed animal used as Bert, is suing CBS and affiliated companies, alleging that the network has been selling unlicensed Bert the Farting Hippo toys manufactured by a company in China, and ended its contract with Folkmanis as a result.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, explains that Bert the Farting Hippo first appeared on NCIS in 2003, a year after Folkmanis started making the plush toys. The flatulent puppet, which belongs to Abby, became a fan favorite and has since made an appearance in more than a dozen NCIS episodes.

Folkmanis stopped making the hippos in 2006, but began manufacturing a smaller version in 2009. The following year, CBS reached a deal with Folkmanis whereby the company would make a special version of the puppet that would include the farting sound effect and which CBS could sell to fans. More than 30,000 puppets were produced and sold, and Folkmanis eventually started making Bert the Farting Hippo keychains as well.

Now, Folkmanis is suing Delivery Agent Inc. and S.F. Global Sourcing for copyright infringement, alleging that both companies reached out to China-based Shanghai Orlind Toy Co. to obtain unlicensed Bert toys. As a result, Folkmanis says, CBS stopped ordering from Folkmanis. The company is seeking $733,000 in lost profits.

There's typically a whole host of Bert merchandise available in CBS's online store, including T-shirts, keychains, and a full-size costume in addition to the stuffed animals. However, as of Tuesday afternoon, all of the items had been removed.

The network responded to the lawsuit with a tongue-in-cheek statement: “We believe this to be a flatulent abuse of the legal system, and we intend to clear the air on this matter immediately.”

As part of the lawsuit, Folkmanis is requesting that merchandise based on the impostor Bert the Farting Hippo be destroyed.


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  • jhusbands Mar 17, 2015

    This is an odd story, and makes me wonder if Folkmanis is trying to (falsely) get CBS to settle. You see, I own one of the Folkmanis puppets and it carries both CBS (NCIS) tags and Folkmanis tags. The Folkmanis company has them produced in China, which is clearly stated on Their tag.

  • dav38spl Oct 22, 2014

    Look people, it's all about the dollar. If you could save $0.03 on each unit and you are buying 1 million units, you would change suppliers too.

  • numberonecubsfa Aug 29, 2014

    Ok, CBS' response makes me want them to go down hard in this lawsuit. How unprofessional.

  • JT_Kirk Aug 27, 2014

    Ha ha, but that's seriously fucked up that CBS couldn't just be happy with the original licensing deal, they had to undercut them for some ridiculous reason. Big guy trying to take from the littler guy, and for what? A few extra bucks. Not cool CBS, not cool... wait, this story is about a farting stuffed hippo on a 12-year-old procedural, nothing was cool to begin with.

  • safibwana Aug 26, 2014

    This says a lot about the state of original creativity in Hollywood. The universe has a sense of humor.

  • Brady120 Aug 26, 2014

    This just smells like Hippo Farts...possibly due to the fact that lawyers are involved.

  • Writerpatrick Aug 26, 2014

    Expect Bert to disappear from the show.

  • daveruccio Aug 31, 2014

    CBS will issue a statement saying they offered him a ton of money, but he wanted to move on to other things.

  • SusanGreene8077 May 20, 2015

    Ouch!

  • Irishelf67 Sep 03, 2014

    LOL! I wonder how many other posters get who you are referring to!

  • gzeigler3 Aug 26, 2014

    It smells like a pretty clear cut case of trademark infringement.

  • TrollingRules Aug 26, 2014

    It smells 'cause it's a farting hippo! :D
    ...
    No?...