The lawsuit over “The Happytime Murders” trailer featuring “ejaculating puppets” reached an explosive climax on Wednesday, with a judge shooting down Sesame Workshop’s claim that the trailer for the Melissa McCarthy film, which bears the tagline “No Sesame. All Street” infringes on the Workshop’s trademark.
Sesame Workshop sued STX last week, taking issue with the tagline for the trailer, alleging that the trailer “tarnishes” the Sesame brand.
“Sesame seeks to enjoin Defendants’ deliberate effort to appropriate its SESAME STREET mark, and its trusted brand and goodwill, to promote their R-rated movie, The Happytime Murders, by way of a violent and sexually-explicit trailer. SESAME STREET is a registered trademark of Sesame, an organization with a long and storied history of ‘helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder,'” the suit read. “Defendants’ widely-distributed marketing campaign features a just-released trailer with explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets, along with the tagline ‘NO SESAME. ALL STREET.’ Defendants do not own, control or have any right to use the SESAME STREET mark. Instead, they are distributing a trailer that deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame’s brand.”
However, the New York Daily News reported that Judge Vernon Broderick said that the tagline actually distinguished the upcoming film from Sesame Street in a “humorous, pithy way.”
TheWrap has reached out to Sesame Workshop for a statement on the judge’s decision.
According to a description of the film, “The Happytime Murders” involves “the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show” that “begins to get murdered one by one,” prompting “a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet to take on the case. It is directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson, and counts The Jim Henson Company’s alternative banner Henson Alternative among its producers.
In a statement to TheWrap on Wednesday, STX’s representative in the matter, Fred, Esq. — who, we will remind readers, is a puppet — said that the company is “obviously very pleased” with the ruling.
“We fluffing love Sesame Street and we’re obviously very pleased that the ruling reinforced what STX’s intention was from the very beginning — to honor the heritage of The Jim Henson Company’s previous award-winning creations while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created,” Fred said. “We believe we accomplished that with the very straightforward NO SESAME, ALL STREET tagline. We look forward to continued happytimes as we prepare to release Happytime Murders this summer.”