Those who are familiar with Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor were not shocked when he released the rated-R comedy “Ted” in 2012. Most people were not shocked either by the more than $500 million it grossed in box offices worldwide.
What some people might be shocked to hear though is that the movie’s vulgar -- yet cuddly -- main character may not have been MacFarlane’s own idea. According to a lawsuit filed recently, MacFarlane could be guilty of infringement, which could cost him depending on how the courts decide.
The lawsuit was filed by Bengal Mangle Productions after it noticed similarities between MacFarlane’s Ted and its own “Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear” character. According to the federal lawsuit, Bengal Mangle claims that it released “Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear” in 2009, which gained popularity through June 2012. Among its 1.2 million viewers during that time, the lawsuit claims, was MacFarlane.
Just like the character of Ted, Bengal Mangle points out that their character also has human friends, does drugs and alcohol, and is physically and verbally abusive. These similarities have led the web-series creators to believe that Ted “constitutes [as] infringement,” which is why they are seeking an injunction and damages.
Though there are similarities between the two characters, it’s worth pointing out that proving copyright infringement can be incredibly complex. Though the plaintiff’s may be able to point out similarities between the works, in order to win their case, they will need to demonstrate to the court that the defendant’s used the plaintiff’s work as their own. Even if MacFarlane did not do so intentionally, he may still be held liable in court, which is something that could cost him down the road.
Source: Courthouse News, “Court Fight Over Rude Teddy Bears,” Matt Reynolds, July 17, 2014