Ragdoll Ltd, the producers of Teletubbies, are suing the Commonwealth of Kentucky. They claim that the state's new license plates are a derivative work based upon the popular children's show, and they did not authorize it. They are seeking unspecified damages.
Nigel Weems, a spokesman for Andrew Davenport, the co-creator and sole writer of Teletubbies told us, "This is just not right. This license plate presents a kind-hearted, friendly, and welcoming image, just like the land of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa, and Po. Teletubbyland is a wondrous and welcoming place for children, and for anyone in fact. Kentucky is nothing of the sort. I was in Kentucky once, and the people there were absolutely cruel. They told me I "talk funny." Well, really! I am English, they are the ones who speak English improperly. They told me I dressed funny and called me names like 'pantywaist' and 'sissy boy.' One man named Bubba Ray even asked me why the British are all a bunch of faeries. To be blunt, I never met a bigger bunch of uncouth yahoos, and rude ignoramuses than in Kentucky. When I told Mr. Davenport what they were up to, and related my experiences to him, he was greatly saddened."
We also spoke to a clerk at Kentucky Governor Paul Patton's office. We were told, "No one is going to prove that our new plate is based on that Teletubbies show. Our design consultants come up with that all themselves. That's our story, and we're sticking to it. This is all off the record, right?" Our reporter told her that we could make no such promise, as we were seeking comments for a news story, and she replied, "Well you're just a bunch of snakes, ain't ya? Just like the reporters who made a big deal out of the Tina Conner thing!" She then hung up, and we have not been able to get any further official comments.
This is not the first time Kentucky has been accused of infringement. When the US signed a treaty agreeing to honor international copyrights, a German artist pointed out that an image of a mare and foal that the Commonwealth had used on license plates, and at the Kentucky Horse Park was his, and he did not approve of their use of it. In a related controversy, Kentucky used the phrase, "A Little Bit of Heaven" to promote tourism, which ran afoul of West Virginia, whose trademark is, "Almost Heaven."