Dane Boedigheimer and Spencer Grove, the creators of the Cartoon Network show, Annoying Orange, have been named in a lawsuit claiming the duo copied their citrus from a previous ad campaign for the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Reports indicate the creative team is being sued by H2M, an ad agency based in Fargo, North Dakota. As upcoming videos indicate, the crux of the lawsuit is that Boedigheimer and Grove copied their Annoying Orange character from a similar character H2M created for aforementioned NDDOT ad push.
The lawsuit states:
“Defendants Dane Boedigheimer and Spencer Grove were raised, resided, educated, attended film school, were employed and first obtained access to ‘The Talking Orange’ in North Dakota and western Minnesota — the same area where Plaintiff H2M’s ‘The Talking Orange’ and its derivatives, were widely disseminated on cable television….”
Here are some examples of the H2M’s creations with the character in question:
And just in case the lead image didn’t jog your memory, here’s a video of the Annoying Orange:
Oh, and there’s a trailer for the fruit’s upcoming return to Cartoon Network:
Another aspect of the lawsuit states the infringement is, in part, based on the fact that both characters use a voice that is “perfectly in sync with the movement of the actor’s mouth, lips, teeth and tongue…”
The obvious difference comes from the eyes, of course, but is that enough to claim Annoying Orange is, if not an original creation, different enough to be considered fair use or, perhaps a satirical recreation? Or is this just a case of an ad agency seeing something similar to their creation take off in ways they didn’t imagine, and now they simply want a piece of that Cartoon Network pie that helps sustain Boedigheimer and Grove?
The fact that the two resided in the same area the Talking Orange campaign hits, however, does seem to imply some kind of inspiration for their popular Annoying Orange character? With that in mind, what are the chances Cartoon Network just settles with Fargo ad agency and moves on with minimal change to their popular fruit character?