Sesame Workshop, the extensive team behind the beloved kids show Sesame Street, is suing STX Productions, because of the use of specific language in the trailer for their upcoming film, The Happytime Murders.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York on May 24, takes particular issue with the line that goes “No Sesame. All Street.” This, according to them, is an unauthorized use of the Sesame Street trademark, and “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.”
They also state that STX is “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…Sesame has worked for nearly 50 years to build, cultivate and maintain trust with its audience of parents and young children built on its reputation for wholesome educational programming.”
The company is looking for permanent injunction on the use of its marks in the promotion for the film, as well as unspecified damages.
This might seem a little confusing, as the puppets used in the movie have been developed under the supervision of The Jim Henson Company, but Henson never owned any part of the Sesame Street brand, just the puppets used on the show. Therefore, while people might associate Muppets with Sesame Street, the two are not one in the same.
STX has been giving out some pretty positive statements, like this one given to io9 by “Fred Esq.” a puppet representing the company:
STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they’re not performing in front of children. Happytime Murders is the happy result of that collaboration and we’re incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience. While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position. We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer.
The solution may be as simple as changing the marketing, but it might take more to appease Sesame Workshop, given just how raunchy the content is.