California Intellectual Property Blog


Sesame Street Sues Over “No Sesame. All Street” Trademark in Movie Trailer

San Diego – Sesame Workshop, founder of the children’s show “Sesame Street,” has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York against STX Productions over use of its trademark in a movie trailer. The offending movie is titled “The Happytime Murders” which is a romp centered around puppets being killed. It stars Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Joel McHale.
Sesame Workshop claims that the movie trailer has left the Sesame brand tarnished. The lawsuit continues to say that the movie trailer does not uphold Sesame Workshop’s message and uses the Sesame Street brand without authorization at the end of the trailer when you see the line “No Sesame. All street.”
Sesame Street is a registered trademark of Sesame Workshop, and the organization’s message is “helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.” The lawsuit claims that the recently released movie trailer goes against the core Sesame Street message with violence, drug use, profane language, and puppets engaging in sexual activity. Sesame claims that the trailer leads consumers to believe that Sesame Workshop has endorsed the movie.
Sesame Workshop has now been the victim of social media anger from “appalled viewers” because the viewers mistakenly believe that Sesame Workshop supports the film and has broken their trust. Sesame has put in almost 50 years striving to build and maintain its reputation and trust with the parents of young children everywhere. Now with the adult movie trailer centered around puppets going viral, Sesame’s reputation is in jeopardy of being damaged.
“The Happytime Murders” is scheduled to come to theaters August 17, 2018, and is directed by Brian Henson. The description of the film is “When the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.”
STX Productions claim they are “confident” in their legal position. STX collaborated with Jim Henson Company and Henson’s son Brian Henson, American Puppeteer, in the creation of “The Happytime Murders.” The film is the untold stories of the puppeteers lives when the children aren’t around. STX continues to say they were “incredibly pleased” with the success of the trailer and viewer’s reactions although were “disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun.”
Sesame Workshop later said, “We take no issue with the creative freedom of the filmmakers and their right to make and promote this movie, rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association.” Sesame has reached out to STX Productions to request that the Sesame name be removed from the film but were met with a firm no.
In the trademark infringement lawsuit, Sesame Workshop seeks to have its name permanently removed from the film’s marketing and that the film should stand on its own.


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