'Cartoonist' Troy Walker is looking to sue Nickelodeon and parent company Viacom for $1.6 billion dollars. Yes, billion.
According to online reports (I started on my virtual paper with The Beat) Walker apparently created a character called Bob Spongee in 1992, illustrating him in a series of comic strips and even manufacturing him as a doll - "yellow sponges with a 'drawn-on' face that he sold as collectibles in flea markets and through the mail." As you can see from the image above, Bob Spongee is clearly a desirable and collectible. Ahem.
There was an episode of Spongebob in 2004 called Sponge For Hire, which Walker cites as 'undeniable proof' that he was ripped off. From his statement: “It is more than ironic that two working-class sponges are named Bob. Both characters are unemployed. Both characters live in a house concept.”
Two working class sponges being called Bob is ironic? Cue Alanis Morisette gags... and how about this house concept? I think... think... I live in one of those too, just about. I'm just like Bob Spongee, me, living in a house concept, experiencing a life concept with my friend concepts and family concepts.
Viacom lawyers responded, in court documents, "Defendants’ work(s) are not substantially similar to any protectible elements of any of plaintiff’s allegedly infringed works."
Nice to live in a world where even something as patently insane as Spongebob can 'appear to be' an act of plagiarism, though. Gives me hope for the future of human creativity.