An advertising agency in North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against the creators of the Cartoon Network show "Annoying Orange."
In the civil suit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court by H2M, a Fargo-based advertising and marketing agency, the plaintiffs allege that Cartoon Network writers Dane Boedigheimer and Spencer Grove ripped off a copyrighted character called “The Talking Orange” that was created for television commercials for the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The commercials aired in North Dakota and western Minnesota from 2005 to 2010.
“The Talking Orange” is a fictional character who's essentially just an orange with a superimposed human mouth and eyes. According to the lawsuit, the character has a "snotty, annoying and slightly obnoxious" voice, which gives it an abrasive and abusive persona.
"Like 'The Talking Orange,' 'Annoying Orange' appears to speak with a 'voice' that is perfectly in sync with the movement of the actor's mouth, lips, teeth and tongue," according to the lawsuit.
The suit notes that Boedigheimer and Grove are both North Dakota natives and attended college at Minnesota State University-Moorhead before relocating to California.
The lawsuit also names as defendants Annoying Orange LLC and Annoying Orange Inc., both of which are owners of the trademark and copyright for the character.
H2M is seeking damages, an injunction prohibiting Boedigheimer and Grove from profiting off their product, and attorneys' fees.
An attorney for the plaintiff spoke to a local Fargo news station, saying “They [Boedigheimer and Grove] picked up, moved to California and started another version of it. That’s essentially what our case is about.”
Boedigheimer posted several “Annoying Orange” videos on YouTube beginning in 2009, racking up more than 1.2 million views and eventually launching a line of T-shirts, toys and a video game. “The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange” first aired on Cartoon Network in May 2012.
NDDOT - Talking Orange- "Return of the Cones"
Annoying Orange - "Mommy and Me"