A North Dakota advertising agency is suing the creators of a Cartoon Network show, alleging that they copied a state marketing campaign.
H2M, a Fargo-based advertising and marketing agency, filed the lawsuit against Dane Boedigheimer and Spencer Grove in U.S. District Court in North Dakota on Monday. Boedigheimer and Grove are the creators of the animated series "Annoying Orange."
H2M alleges Boedigheimer and 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 lawsuit also names Annoying Orange LLC and Annoying Orange Inc., both based in California.
"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," the suit states.
The Talking Orange is comprised of an inanimate orange that has a superimposed mouth with lips, tongue and teeth. An actor's mouth speaking the character's part is composited onto the orange. It has a "snotty, annoying and slightly obnoxious" voice, which gives it an abrasive and abusive persona, the lawsuit stated.
"Like 'The Talking Orange,' 'Annoying Orange' appears to be speaking with a 'voice' that is perfectly in sync with the movement of the actor's mouth, lips, teeth and tongue," according to the lawsuit.
Boedigheimer and Grove are both North Dakota natives and attended college at Minnesota State University-Moorhead before relocating to California, the lawsuit said. Both still have family members in North Dakota and western Minnesota.
H2M is seeking damages, an injunction prohibiting Boedigheimer and Grove from profiting off their product, and attorneys' fees.
Emails sent to the "Annoying Orange" official website and a representative of Boedigheimer and the producers of the show were not immediately returned Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Cartoon Network said the station had no comment.
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