Robbed, I tell you

Do you recognize this sponge? Do you really?

Oh, sure. You’re most likely thinking that this is a no-brainer; that’s Spongebob Squarepants. But are you sure? Look closely.

Might it be… Bob Spongee?

Well, as it happens, this particular picture is Spongebob Squarepants. But there’s a man in northern California who begs to differ about that.

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.

You know where this is going, right? Walker only wants what’s rightfully his, of course.

The 40-year-old cartoonist has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Nickelodeon, Viacom, Paramount Studios and Stephen Hillenberg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Walker has demanded $1.6 billion in damages, alleging that the defendants used his idea without his permission.

Well, it all makes perfect sense. I mean, the two characters sound completely identical. Gary the Pet Snail is clearly the wife, Linda; and Patrick the Starfish is obviously Bubbles. Also, Apple Street? Pineapple under the sea?

Why, the blatant thievery is shocking.

And I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that when I notice that someone has infringed on my intellectual property in 2004 (5 years after the series launched), I wait until 2007 to file a lawsuit. I just think that increases my chances of winning, what with all of the additional pain and suffering.

In fact… well, I think I can share something with you, seeing as how we’re so close and we’ll just keep it between us, Internet. I’m not going to move on this one for a little while, yet, but just so you know, these backpack clips? Totally my idea. Why, once in eighth grade I removed a barrette from my hair—a yellow barrette, as it happens—and clipped it onto my backpack. It had a couple of ribbons hanging down and I ended up drawing on some eyes and then… well, it’s very painful to talk about. I’m still reeling from the theft of my unique idea, as I’m sure you understand. But in a year or three, I’ll be seeking retribution.

Yeah. Um, good luck with your lawsuit, dude.

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