NCIS's "Bert the Farting Hippo" Gets CBS Sued for Copyright Infringement

I must admit that I have never seen an episode of NCIS but “Bert the Farting Hippo” may convince me to tune in. CBS was sued for copyright infringement for allegedly stealing the look of a puppet hippo and using it to make merchandise branded as “Bert the Farting Hippo”.
For the past 40 years, Folkmanis (yeah, don’t say the name of this company out loud around impressionable youngsters) has been the creator, manufacturer and distributor of fine stuffed animal puppets. In 2002, Folkmanis began distributing its stuffed hippopotamus that can be seen on the left below. In 2003, the puppet started appearing as a prop on the CBS hit show, NCIS, and was accompanied by a dubbed sound effect of a fart attributable to the big guy. The puppet was referenced as “Bert the Farting Hippo” and has appeared on more than a dozen episodes of the show.
In 2010, Folkmanis agreed to produce Bert for sale on CBS’s online store and later made key chains with a smaller version of Bert on them. In 2012, CBS cut out Folkmanis and had a company in China produce another hippo that was still branded as Bert. Folkmanis claims that this new version of Bert is a copy-hippo of their copyrighted version of the animal.
In order to establish copyright infringement, Folkmanis must show that the two works pictured below are substantially similar. Also, a hippo is a hippo and unless there is something unique to a design, the look of a hippo is not protectable under copyright.  Folkmanis seeks profits which it estimates as $733,000. Maybe CBS should have stuck with another stuffed character like “Flatulent Fox”.