Man Sues for $1.6 Billion Over Rights to Sponge Bob Square Pants

March 13, 2007

Troy Walker claims he created Bob Spongee, an unemployed cartoon sponge who lived with his family on Apple street, in 1991.

So in 2002 when Walker saw Nickelodeon’s “Sponge Bob Square Pants,” a wildly popular animated sponge who lives among friends and foes beneath the waves in a city called Bikini Bottom, he saw too many similarities.

The 40-year-old Walker has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Nickelodeon, Viacom Inc., Paramount Studios and Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob. He has demanded $1.6 billion in damages, and alleged that the defendants used his idea without his permission.

“They took all of it,” said Walker.

Walker claims to have made 1,000 Bob Spongee dolls, which he sold throughout Northern California. Walker believes the doll inspired the producers of the show to duplicate his character.

Hillenburg could not be reached for comment and a spokeswoman at Nickelodeon said in a letter that they believe Walker’s claim is baseless. Viacom’s attorneys have said in court documents that Sponge Bob is different from Bob Spongee.

The suit alleges that Walker created “Bob Spongee, The Unemployed Sponge” during the recession of the early 1990s. He claims to have kept advertisements he ran in the Oakland Tribune for the doll.

Walker points to a SpongeBob SquarePants episode called, “Sponge for hire!” as proof that Nickelodeon stole the idea.

“It is more than ironic that two working class sponges are named Bob,” Walker says in his complaint. “Both characters are unemployed. Both characters live in a house concept.”


Information from: Contra Costa Times

Topics Lawsuits

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