‘The Happytime Murders’ wins legal fight against claims its slogan might be mistaken for ‘Sesame Street’
A trailer for an R-rated movie featuring puppets having sex adequately distinguished itself from “Sesame Street,” despite claims to the contrary by the makers of the kid-friendly show, a Manhattan federal court judge ruled…
…Sesame Workshop sued the film studio behind the raunchy comedy “The Happytime Murders”… alleging that the movie’s slogan — “No Sesame. All Street.” — confused the public and harmed its wholesome brand. The trailer, featuring Melissa McCarthy, showed puppets joking about drugs, offering sex for money and shooting guns.
But Judge Vernon Broderick said the slogan actually distinguished the movie from the Sesame Street trademark.
He said the “No Sesame” tagline was a “humorous, pithy way” of letting viewers know “The Happytime Murders” was not Sesame Street.
During nearly two hours of arguments before he read his decision, attorneys for Sesame Street sought to link their trademark case to an earlier one involving the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and the famous 1978 porn flick, “Debbie Does Dallas.”
“Debbie Does Dallas was a pornographic movie. There’s no question,” Broderick said.
“This is an R-rated movie. There’s a distinction.”
Sesame Workshop attorney Mary Mulligan said the slogan was the nonprofit’s only concern.
She even went so far as to suggest appropriate taglines for “The Happytime Murders” that would not allegedly infringe on Sesame Street, such as: “Naughty Puppets,” “Bad Puppets,” “Puppets After Dark” and “Puppets Get Freaky.”
Movie maker STX issued a statement attributed to a puppet lawyer named 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 while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created,” the statement said.