California Intellectual Property Blog


Seth McFarlane Sued Over Alleged “Ted” Copyright Infringement

Teddy bearLos Angeles – Seth McFarlane is known for his crude humor and most notably as the creator of Family Guy. In 2012, McFarlane took his unfiltered creativity to the big screen with the movie premiere of “Ted.” The movie portrayed a vulgar teddy bear (“Ted”) and his life and relationships in the human world. Ted is not your typical teddy bear as he enjoys the wilder side of life by drinking, smoking, and partying. Since its release, “Ted” the movie has become a worldwide blockbuster netting around $550 million.

In July of last year, Bengal Mangle Productions sued McFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Production Company as well as Universal Pictures and Media Rights Capital filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. The lawsuit alleged copyright infringement of an animated bear named Charlie. Bengal Mangle claimed that it created a screenplay, “Acting School Academy” in 2008 that featured a character named Charlie, “a teddy bear who lives in a human, adult world with all human friends. Charlie has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes, and is a generally vulgar yet humorous character.”

Bengal Mangle Productions launched a number of web series in 2008 including “Charlie the Abusive Teddy” and “Acting School Academy.” In both series, Charlie was portrayed as a wild and bad-mannered teddy bear who also lived among humans.

The lawsuit that was launched against McFarlane and the “Ted” producers claimed that Charlie and Ted were similar in physical attributes and that there were striking personality similarities. Bengal Mangle claimed that the foul-mouthed teddy bears were thus substantially similar and that McFarlane had unlawfully copied their animated bear.

A Los Angeles federal Judge dismissed the case in mid-March, claiming that Ted was not a copyright infringement. The ruling states that McFarlane had independently created “Ted” with no imitation of Bengal Mangle’s Charlie bear.

After the case, the plaintiffs conceded that they believed Seth McFarlane had created Ted independently of Charlie. Representatives of both Universal Pictures and McFarlane commented that they are satisfied with the ruling. Media Rights Capital stated: “This lawsuit was without merit and has been dismissed. The plaintiff has conceded that the Ted character was independently created by Seth MacFarlane using his own efforts and creativity.”

The result of the case is good news for McFarlane and Fuzzy Door Productions as the sequel “Ted 2” is set to hit theaters in June.


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