BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

OFF BEAT: Puppet maker says CBS violated copyright on gassy stuffed hippo


There are some phrases one simply never expects to encounter in a professional context — and until now, “the farting hippo” was certainly among them.

Folkmanis Inc., an Emeryville, California-based puppet manufacturer, has sued CBS Broadcasting Inc. for illegally copying one of its stuffed animal designs for a line of merchandise related to the network’s “N.C.I.S.” television program.

According to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, “N.C.I.S.” has been using a stuffed hippopotamus manufactured by Folkmanis as a prop since 2003. On the show, the toy belongs to an eccentric U.S. Naval forensic scientist who has named it Bert the Farting Hippo. For comedic effect, a superimposed fart sound is emitted whenever one of the characters gives Bert a squeeze.

Over time, the toy became a popular recurring gag on the show. CBS began selling replicas of Bert the Farting Hippo in 2010 that were purchased from Folkmanis. Two years later, the network allegedly switched to a Chinese manufacturer to supply the replica hippos, along with key chains, slippers and T-shirts bearing the stuffed animal’s likeness.

Currently, all Bert the Farting Hippo merchandise has since been removed from the network’s online store.

In its lawsuit, Folkmanis says the merchandise violates its copyright on the design of the original hippo. The company is seeking at least $733,000 in damages, which it says is roughly equivalent to CBS’ profits from the sale of the merchandise, plus an injunction barring the network from further sales of products bearing the contested design.

In the meantime, there’s no word on whether the dispute will lead to an untimely “N.C.I.S.” ending for the flatulent Bert.

Read Next

  • OFF BEAT: Traffic hackers get the green light

    Whether hackers are looking to shave time off their commutes or pull off a gold heist like Michael Caine's character in 1969's “The Italian Job” (or Mark Wahlberg's character in the 2003 remake), authorities can add “tampering with traffic lights” to the growing list of cyber risks.