U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick ruled Wednesday that Melissa McCarthy’s upcoming R-rated movie titled The Happytime Murders can continue using the tagline “No Sesame. All Street.” in advertisements. Fox News reports that Broderick indicated in his decision that he believed that the movie tagline used humor to set the movie apart from the beloved children’s show and does not tarnish its image or infringe upon its trademark. The following language was included in the suit filed by Sesame Workshop.
“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… 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 judge found nothing to validate non-profit Sesame Workshop’s claim that moviegoers would be confused by the movie that uses Henson-like puppets that are very similar to the Muppets of Sesame Street fame. The Wrap indicates that he further indicated that Sesame Workshop didn’t demonstrate that parents and sponsors were complaining. Movie distributor STX Entertainment issued a statement they attributed to puppet lawyer Fred, Esq.
“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.”
Sesame Workshop filed the suit because the trailer indicates that the movie includes scenes of “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets.” Their attorneys argued that The Happytime Murders would tarnish the Muppets image like the 70s pornographic film Debbie Does Dallas tarnished the image of the Dallas Cheerleaders. The cheerleaders filed and won a lawsuit related to that film. The judge denied any similarities between the two cases because the movie in the Dallas Cheerleaders case was pornography, and The Happytime Murders is not.
A description of the movie indicates that it’s about the murder of puppets who are cast members of an ’80s children’s television show. Another puppet, a disgraced former LAPD officer who now runs his own private detective agency, takes on the case. Two of Muppet creator Jim Henson’s relatives played significant roles in the movie. His son, Brian Henson, directed while his daughter, Lisa Henson, worked as executive producer.
The Happytime Murders will hit theaters on August 17.