TVO Threatens Legal Action over Polkaroo Pothead Parody "Tokaroo"

The broadcaster says it poses "a very real threat of tarnishing Polkaroo's reputation"
TVO Threatens Legal Action over Polkaroo Pothead Parody 'Tokaroo'
Photo: Adina Bresge
Ontario broadcaster TVO is threatening legal action against a mascot maker who has gained notoriety online for a pothead parody costume of popular children's television character Polkaroo.

Last Wednesday (October 17), mascot maker Mark Scott celebrated Canada's legalization of cannabis in Toronto's Trinity-Bellwoods Park dressed as "Tokaroo," a red-eyed riff on the popular TVO character that has appeared in children's programming since the 1970s.

In a cease-and-desist notice sent to Scott on Tuesday (October 23), a lawyer wrote that TVO feels Scott's costume is an "unauthorized use" of the character, claiming it could pose "a very real threat of tarnishing Polkaroo's reputation."

"Polkaroo is an established and trusted trademarked TVOkids mascot that is appreciated across generations," TVO said in a statement to the Canadian Press. "While we can understand the nostalgia, TVO does not endorse this parody of Polkaroo, or the fact that it is being associated with an activity that is neither legal for children nor recommended for use by children."

TVO's letter demanded that Scott cease and desist his activity by tomorrow afternoon (October 26), though he is intent on continuing the project. 

"I think that TVO is being a little bully-ish about this," he told CP. "[Their slogan is], 'Never stop learning,' and they're doing a lot of 'never' and 'stopping.'"

Scott's connection to Polkaroo goes back to dressing up as the psychedelic marsupial for over two decades of TVO promotional appearances. He says similarities between the original character and his Tokaroo are "purely coincidental."

Scott explained that Tokaroo is only one character in a group of "Candoroos," which he hopes to develop into a educational web series for adults. Other characters include the LGBTQ-focused Rainbowroo; Signaroo, who is deaf; and Reddyroo, who has special needs.

Scott added that he one day hopes to turn the character into an "infinite symbol of representation" through creating characters of "many shapes, sizes and colours" — unless TVO takes him to court.