A Calfornia cartoonist is suing Sponge Bob creator Stephen Hillemberger and Nickelodeon claiming the underwater toon icon was a rip-off of his own “Bob Spongee”:

Cartoonist Troy Walker created a comic strip in 1991 about a sponge with a personality.

Bob Spongee had eyes, legs and arms. He lived on Apple Street with his wife, Linda, and their daughter, Bubbles.

Walker, of Fairfield, Calif., then produced 1,000 dolls: yellow sponges with a “drawn-on” face that he sold as collectibles in flea markets and through the mail.

In 2002, he learned about Nickelodeon’s buck-toothed animated character, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” who lives underwater in the fictitious city of Bikini Bottom.

“They took all of it,” Walker said this week. “I sold the Bob Spongees all throughout Northern California. It obviously fell into the hands of one of the producers of the show. It’s a clear pattern of duplication.”

Walker is suing for a mere $1.6 BILLION in damages.

Nickelodeon attorneys say the claim is “without merit.”


  1. He found out about in 2002?
    What, he doesn’t own a TV set? It first aired in the late 90’s. If this character he created was so imprtant, you’d think he’d have found out about “the rip off” quicker than 3 years.

  2. Everything’s been done before. It’s the writing and actual production in SpongeBob that makes the show sell, not the character concept alone. You might as well have two artists concieve of an unemployed talking tube of toothpaste, but neither are going to write or draw it exactly alike. That idea you have in your head that you think is so unique? There’s probably somebody on the other side of the globe already working on something just like it.

    There have also been a few good arguments about a popular consciousness which often explains trends and fads . . . that we often think along similar lines of thought because of access to all the same forms of mass media. It isn’t so far out of reach to believe that other people are thinking the same thing at the same time, even with what seem like new ideas.

  3. While you have a decent point Rivkah, if someone published a “Men who Watches” comic about a group of heros made illegal spanning over a 40 year time-frame, featuring Man of Owls and such published three years after Watchmen, you could be sure DC would sue(even though the ending for watchmen is a rip off of an old Outer Limits).

    The prelim figure to be sued for is probably made for adjustment so when the Judge makes it for less it’ll be something the man can live off of forever(or for the lawyers to talk him down to 20 million if they really did knowingly steal it). Either way, the 1.6 Billion is still less than the amount Sponge Bob has made the world over including the show, toys, the movie, etc.


  4. Yeaaahhh… presented a good 8 years after the show premiered, became a hit, a movie, etcetera, is there really a case!?

    Besides, Hillenburg had ‘Bob the Sponge’ well into the early 80’s before his work on ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ [according to the DVD]. A sponge named Bob shall always be and always was….

  5. Oh My God! Sponge Bob SquarePants is a rip-off of a character I created 20 years ago called Falafel Bill FancyPanties. Gimme my $1.6 billion, please …

  6. If Troy Walker entered into a business venture selling what he believed to be a unique idea/product and he didn’t attempt to legally protect it, then too bad for Mr. Walker. Oh, by the way, I once painted a face on a dried up starfish…

  7. THe fact is that ANYONE COULD have thought of it is immaterial FACT IS they didnt nor did they register it as the law states.
    Troy created it first ahead of Stephen Hillenberg and in the eyes of the copyright law it is his creation and deserves his dues.
    YOu know international copyright law does protect titles…the Danish Copyright act for instance does this and titles are considered as protectible elements in a piece of work..everyone I know knows that the coincidence of it is just too much for it to be a coincidence.

    Copyright Law does not say that things that are protected cannot be ordinary day things..they can and are protectible elements when used in a creative way and protected.
    Clearly an ordinary sponge is nothing but call it BOB SPONGEE or SPONGE BOB and it is then a violation of Troy Walkers right NOT TO have their work stolen, to enjoy the work of his hands etc.

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