A maker of the popular British television series Teletubbies filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) on Monday, alleging the world's largest retail chain infringed on its trademark for dolls based on the series' characters.
England-based Ragdoll Productions Ltd and its North American licensing agent itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. brought the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging that Wal-Mart's small figurine characters known as "Bubbly Chubbies" copied its popular "Teletubbies" characters.
The Teletubbies characters, "Tinky Winky," "Laa-Laa," "Po," and "Dipsy" have been featured on BBC since 1997, the lawsuit said.
The series now airs or will soon air in about 120 countries and in 21 languages and dialects. Since last April, it has been broadcast on 323 Public Broadcasting System stations, reaching 97 percent of U.S. households.
Ragdoll alleged in the lawsuit that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has capitalized on the fame and widespread recognition of the "Teletubbies" characters with its own line of similar dolls right down to their name, "Bubbly Chubbies."
The lawsuit called the dolls "obvious, studied knockoffs of the famous 'Teletubbies' characters."
The lawsuit sought unspecified damages, including the withdrawal and destruction of the Wall-Mart dolls.
"We have not been served with the lawsuit," said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Laura Pope. She added, "Wal-Mart would never knowingly infringe upon copyright or trademark laws."
Wall-Mart stock closed down 1 7/16 Tuesday to 93 5/16.