The Peacock owns the intellectual property behind such popular O’Brien characters as Pimpbot 5000 and Conando, as well as recurring segments such as In the Year 3000 and Desk Driving. Sources involved in the settlement negotiations say NBC is keeping the copyrighted and trademarked elements of O’Brien’s shows as part of the deal. That means the bits and characters will likely never be seen after O’Brien’s “Tonight” ends its run Jan 22.
While the vast majority of the characters O’Brien introduced are said to owned by NBC, it’s unclear who controls Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the crass canine puppet that is perhaps O’Brien’s most popular recurring bit. Triumph was originated by writer and longtime O’Brien pal Robert Smigel, whose reps declined to comment on whether Smigel or NBC owned rights to the character.