‘Teletubbies’ Owner Sues Wal-Mart Over Dolls
First Teletubbies had to worry about evangelist Jerry Falwell accusing purple Tinky Winky of being gay, and now the British television characters allege that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is ripping them off.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, was sued Monday by the owner of the “Teletubbies” characters for allegedly swiping the design of “Tinky Winky” and his friends.
The suit claims that Wal-Mart’s “Bubbly Chubbies” dolls copy the appearance of the Teletubbies TV characters and toys popular with toddlers.
“It’s not flattery. It’s just illegal,” said Kenn Viselman, the chief executive of New York-based Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., the exclusive marketer of Teletubbies in the Americas. Itsy Bitsy and Britain-based Ragdoll Productions Ltd., owner of the Teletubbies characters, filed suit in Manhattan federal court alleging trademark and copyright infringement.
“Wal-Mart would never knowingly infringe on copyright or trademark law,” said company spokeswoman Laura Pope. Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart hasn’t seen the suit and can’t comment on specific allegations, she said.