Seth MacFarlane sued for stealing idea for Ted

Producer-director Seth MacFarlane has been sued by a California production company for allegedly stealing the idea for a foul-mouthed talking bear with a penchant for drinking, drugs and prostitutes for his 2012 hit movie Ted.

In a complaint filed on Tuesday in a Los Angeles court, Bengal Mangle Productions LLC said Ted is "strikingly similar" to its own teddy bear Charlie, who was created in 2008 for the screenplay Acting School Academy and has appeared on websites such as YouTube and FunnyorDie.

Bengal Mangle said the bears physically resemble each other, have similar personas and verbal deliveries, have human friends, spend much time on the living room couch with a beer or cigarette in hand, and have active social media presences on Facebook and Twitter with similar, often profane postings.

It also said Acting School Academy got about 1.2 million online views between July 2009 and June 2012.

A scene from an episode of Charlie. Screengrab: ActingSchoolAcademy/YouTube

Movie still from the movie Ted. Photo: UIP

"Defendants never sought nor obtained plaintiff's permission to use the Charlie character and continue to infringe the Charlie character," the complaint said.

Bengal Mangle is seeking to recoup profit stemming from the alleged copyright infringement, and halt further infringement.

MacFarlane's agent could not immediately be reached on Wednesday for comment. Universal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Released in June 2012, Ted grossed about US$550 million (S$683.4 million) worldwide, making it the highest grossing R-rated comedy. A sequel is planned for next year.

- Reuters